Toyota’s California design studio, CALTY, is turning 50 years old. The organization was founded in 1973 and has contributed to a number of the Japanese automaker’s production vehicles over the years. The more intriguing portion of its work, however, is the vehicles that never saw the light of day, such as the mid-engined Toyota MX-1 and MX-2.
The two cars are part of a small collection of photographs released by the automaker to celebrate CALTY’s 50th. Besides the two-door sports cars, pictures of a 4th-generation Supra concept as well as other interesting design exercises have also been shared. It all amounts to a very interesting peek into what could’ve been.
The automaker gave few details of the two high-performance mid-engined concepts created by CALTY, only commenting on features that were plainly visible in the images. Needless to say, though, nothing like these two cars was ever built. The closest thing to the MX-1 or MX-2 with their Mazda-eqsue naming schemes was the Toyota MR2, which only really shares the two cars’ mid-engine layout.
The two unbuilt sports cars weren’t the only enthusiast vehicles on display. The automaker also shared images of an unbuilt FJ40 concept, as well as CALTY’s proposal for the A80 Supra. The California design studio’s take on Toyota’s two-door sports GT never made it to production, but some elements from the design were used in the final, fourth-generation car.
As well as showing off these historical concepts, Toyota also revealed a new rendering to mark the 50th birthday of CALTY. Called the Baby Lunar Cruiser, the automaker says it would be “built to conquer rugged terrain on Earth and beyond,” and “embodies a unique mix of adaptive technology and heritage design cues from the original FJ40 Land Cruiser.” It’s complete with wraparound glass, futuristic lighting signatures, and airless tires.
Of all of these concepts, Toyota definitely should have gone through with something like the MX-1 or MX-2. There’s just something about the shape of ’80s and ’90s mid-engine cars that’s proven to be timeless. We can see modern interpretations of this design language in cars like Hyundai’s N Vision 74. That car proves the aesthetic is still relevant, and with a few modern design features, cars like the MX-1 and MX-2 aren’t that far from realization in 2023.