Toyota’s CALTY Celebrates 50 Years By Revealing Unseen Sports Cars

Toyota’s CALTY design studio in California is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Established in El Segundo in 1973, the group has over the years made contributions to a number of the Japanese brand’s production vehicles. These include concept cars that never saw the light of day, like the mid-engined Toyota MX-1 and MX-2, as well as more recent work like the upcoming Baby Lunar Cruiser concept. More on that later.

The Toyota MX-1 concept. The red MX-2 concept is our cover photo.

And just because the brand is finally showing us these aging concepts now, don’t think that you will see them in showrooms any time soon. They have been signed off to the ‘what could have been’ shelf.

The automaker included the two mid-engined vehicles in a modest gallery of images to commemorate CALTY’s 50th anniversary. Along with the two-door sports cars, images of a concept Supra from the fourth generation—that was not the winning design—and other intriguing design projects have also been published. All in all, it provides a really intriguing window into what might have been, and what will be, all at the same time.

According to Kevin Hunter, president of CALTY Design Research, “Back in the 70s, California was a youthful, vibrant epicenter of fresh ideas, a cool car culture, and the glamorous movie industry that inspired CALTY to create innovative designs and establish new trends. It still is.” When bosses decided to expand and relocate, the groundbreaking design studio didn’t go far, moving down the coast to Newport Beach in 1978. That same year, CALTY’s first production car design, the second-generation Celica, became a global hit and the designers haven’t looked back since.

The design team celebrates the launch of the Celica in 1978. Love that 70’s hair!

The manufacturer only commented on aspects that were clearly evident in the photographs and provided little specifics about the two high-performance mid-engined concepts penned by CALTY. But it goes without saying that nothing like these two cars was ever built. The nearest thing to the MX-1 or MX-2 with their Mazda-like names was the Toyota MR2 which shares the two cars’ mid-engine layout.

The Baby Lunar Cruiser concept.

In addition to the surprising mid-engine concepts, Toyota also unveiled a new rendering to commemorate CALTY’s 50th birthday. The brand says its aptly named Baby Lunar Cruiser will be “built to conquer rugged terrain on Earth and beyond,” according to the company, and “embodies a unique mix of adaptive technology and heritage design cues from the original FJ40 Land Cruiser.” It has airless tires, wraparound glass, and futuristic lighting signatures. However, that’s all the details Toyota has let out so far.


When you look at the brand’s lineup over the years, sure the Supra, MR2, and Celica were all highly successful models, while the GR86, GR Yaris, and GR Corolla from the last decade define a new breed of sportscars. But we feel that Toyota should definitely have pursued either the MX-1 or MX-2 concepts for some extra street cred and that ‘wow’ factor back in the day. Perhaps there’s still time for Japan’s No 1 carmaker to at least adapt some of that retro mid-engine styling into a future model. We can only hope.

More Articles for You

New Lexus LM Debuts In Malaysia From RM1.23M

Lexus has a new flagship minivan. The original Lexus MPV vehicle was the first-generation LM and it had only been …

Mercedes EQE 350+ SUV Debuts In Malaysia With 596km Range

In addition to the Electric Art Line launched last week, one extra new EQE SUV version has just been added …

New Mercedes EQE 350+ Electric Art Debuts In Malaysia

The Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ Electric Art Line is the new entry-level version of the EQE sedan that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has …

Kia Unveils Affordable EV3 Compact Electric SUV Starting Around $30K

Kia has taken the wraps off its highly anticipated EV3 compact electric SUV, delivering an elevated EV experience with innovative …

New Volkswagen Golf R Debuts In Malaysia

With a price tag of RM332,990, the hotly anticipated Volkswagen Golf R (CKD) has finally made its debut in Malaysia. …

GWM Tank 300 Goes On Sale In Malaysia

What looks like a Bronco wannabe is the GWM Tank 300. And its just opened for bookings in Malaysia for …