Posts Tagged ‘convertible’

Fiat 124 Spider Will Be the Italian Mazda MX-5

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

2016 Mazda MX-5

We’ve known for a while now that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Mazda were working on a partnership around Mazda’s new MX-5 Miata roadster, which made its European debut last week in Geneva.

Thanks to a report from AutoExpress, we’ve just learned that Fiat’s version of the new roadster will be sold as the Fiat 124 Spider.

This fits perfectly in line with earlier rumors from late last year that Fiat had trademarked the 124 nameplate. At the time, the trademark application was confusing because Fiat actually already sold a 124 Spider from 1966 to 1980… We had no idea whether the trademark was meant to protect their old model’s name or introduce a newcomer. Turns out, it’s a little of both.

Old Fiat 124 Spider

The old Fiat 124 Spider was a four-seat convertible. With this news, we know that the new one will be a two-seat roadster sharing the same engine and platform as the Mazda MX-5. However, while the underpinnings will remain the same, Fiat plans to launch their sister car with a more retro styling than allowed by Mazda’s Kodo design language. Their car, execs say, will more closely emulate the early Fiat 124 of the 60’s – a traditional European roadster.

Click here to see Fiat’s first official projections for what the new 124 Spider might look like.

We also learned specific details of the partnership between Mazda and Fiat at Geneva. Both cars will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant. However, Mazda will get to take center stage with their new MX-5 for a full 12 months throughout 2015 and into 2016. Then, Fiat will launch their new Miata-based 124 Spider in 2016 once Mazda’s had plenty of time to make rounds through all the major auto events.

2016 Mazda MX-5 side view

In addition, we learned Fiat may offer an Abarth version of the new 124 Spider with an extra hot powertrain… Up to 200 hp hotter, in fact. However, we expect that Fiat will do their due diligence to determine demand for an up-tuned instead of launching it blindly alongside the 124 Spider.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 1997 Fiat Barchetta

1997 Fiat Barchetta

Unfortunately, there were no old Fiat 124s up for auction in Japan at the time of this writing. However, we did manage to dig up this ’97 Fiat Barchetta in our Integrity Exports Japanese car auction database. “Barchetta” means “little boat” in Italian, so you can see where this spunky little soft top gets its design.

1997 Fiat Barchetta rear

Under the hood you’ll find a 1.8L DOHC petrol engine that outputs 130 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, this was the first Fiat production model to make use of variable camshaft timing to optimize engine performance. It’s got a top speed of 124 mph and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just a hair under 9 seconds (8.9 to be exact).

To learn more about this 1997 Fiat Barchetta, keep reading below the auction sheet:

1997 Fiat Barchetta auction sheet

“Interior C, exterior C, first registered June 1997, Barchetta model, five-speed manual gearbox, AC, official dealer left-hand drive import, grey and black interior, spare key, ABS, airbag, power steering, power windows, engine oil leak, glue on dashboard, light line scratches on exterior paintwork, seats have minor stains and medium wear and also fraying, shift knob is worn, ceiling lining grime, minor interior grime, steering wheel worn, touch paint marks, scratches underneath bumpers, aftermarket alloy wheels, fuel Paintwork is faded, front windshield has stone scratches, other marks as per map”

Lexus LF-C2 Concept Premieres in Sunshine State

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

2014 Lexus LF-C2 Concept LA auto show

The Lexus LF-C2 Concept was the most highly anticipated new Japanese car coming to the 2014 LA Auto Show, and now that it’s here, it’s definitely lived up to the hype. You may remember Toyota’s initial LF-C2 teaser that we showed you a couple weeks ago, so you can keep that theme in mind as we examine the official premiere images throughout this post.

2014 Lexus LF-C2 Concept

In case it’s not obvious from the picture, there is one very distinctive feature to be noted about the LF-C2 concept – it’s not a convertible; it’s completely topless. There is no roof whatsoever, just open-air goodness. So, it makes sense that Lexus would reveal it in the Sunshine State since this is where drivers would most appreciate such a weather dependent concept.

That being said, realistically this is a car that could never see production, and Lexus isn’t trying to pass it off as such. Instead, Lexus VP Jeff Bracken says that the car “shows what’s in store for our brand’s future design direction… [And] shows consumers around the world Lexus’ devotion to emotional designs as well as our passion for an exceptional driving experience.”

Speaking of the design, Lexus definitely hit this one out of the park. Every little element is perfectly crafted to highlight a contrast between boldness and elegance. Up front you have the enormous pinched mesh grille, now a Lexus trademark, which gracefully swoops into clean-cut body lines that gently pull the viewer’s eye along the body to the back of the car. The rear has a very slight taper to it with a heavily sculpted back-end and eye-catching wraparound taillights.

2014 Lexus LF-C2 Concept interior

Inside, the Lexus LF-C2 boasts a cockpit that is arguably more production-ready than the exterior. It’s exactly in line with what we’d expect from Lexus – premium materials, an immaculate white color scheme and plenty of technology to go with it (see the dual-screen center console?). In particular, you can via the image above that the front seats can be pushed back literally to the edge of the rear seats for maximum legroom.

Even after a full reveal, we still don’t know exactly what the Lexus LF-C2 Concept is supposed to preview. All Lexus says is that it’s their interpretation of an open-top GT. However, it definitely seems most likely that this car previews either a Lexus RC or an IS convertible.

If you’d like to see more of the Lexus LF-C2, check out the full promo video below:

Otherwise, you could head over to our Integrity Exports Japanese car auction database to find a whole host of alternative Lexus sports cars, like this 2010 Lexus IS C which the new LF-C2 may actually replace.

2010 Lexus IS Convertible

As you can see, it has a clean and classy black exterior with what used to be a typical Lexus grille. This also would’ve been the last convertible that Lexus offered in their lineup. We don’t see too many of these come through our database, so be sure to check this one out if you’re interested. Or, you can keep reading below the auction sheet for detailed specs:


“Interior A, first registered May 2010, IS250C Version L model, DBA emissions code, FAT, AAC, black leather air seats, open car, original AWs, power steering, power windows, ABS, original TV and navigation system, leather seats, airbag, one owner, DVD changer, paddle shift, card key, wheels scratched, scrapes, stone chips in front windscreen, marks as per map”

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2008 Lexus SC 430 Convertible

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Yesterday we saw a cool new teaser from Lexus for a new convertible they plan to reveal next week at the 2014 LA Auto Show. The new show car is called the Lexus LF-C2 Concept. While we still don’t have any clue as to what exactly the concept will be, one of the possibilities we stated was that the LF-C2 could preview a revived Lexus SC 430 convertible concept.

Naturally, that got us thinking about the old Lexus SC 430 today we quickly dug into our Integrity Exports Japanese car auction database to find this silver beaut’ up for sale:

2008 Lexus SC 430

This is a 2008 Lexus SC 430 hard-top convertible in classic metallic silver. Interestingly, the SC model made its debuted in Japan just a few years before, at the end of 2005, and it was actually the first car sold under the Lexus marque in the automaker’s home market. As a 2008 model, this would’ve been the most up-to-date SC 430 available in Japan. The only more recent model would’ve been the limited edition SC 430 Eternal Jewel, which was a 200-unit production run in 2010 to celebrate the SC’s last year alive.

2008 Lexus SC 430 auction find

Looking a little closer at this particular Japanese car auction find, we can see that it’s in pretty good condition. The overall rating is a 4.5 with a B-grade interior, and only a few minor scratches(A1 and A2) across the entire exterior. Speaking of the exterior, be sure to note the sleek, inlaid twin-spoke alloys that Lexus put into this second-generation model. Looking at this car, it’s easy to see why long time Toyota fans are still hoping for a revival of this car.

Under the hood, it becomes a little clearer why the SC 430 got axed; it’s a bit of a gas guzzler. The massive 4.3L V8 engine sitting under the hood is plenty strong with 288hp, but you pay the price in fuel economy… The convertible gets 16mpg city and 23mpg highway. That being said, drivers everywhere agree the SC 430 has a remarkably quiet and well-crafted interior, plus buttery smooth driving dynamics. So, as Edmunds originally wrote in their 2008MY review, you’d do better calling this a luxury cruiser than a true sporting roadster.

2008 Lexus SC 430 convertible interior

Nonetheless, the luxuriousness of the interior shouldn’t be understated. We’re talking heated leather seats, a modern all-black color-scheme, built-in navigation, plenty of front leg room, infotainment options, automatic air conditioning and more.

All in all, this certainly isn’t the greenest car Lexus has ever made, but there’s slim pickings for hard-top convertibles; especially ones as reliable and plush as this 2008 Lexus SC 430. Keep reading below the auction sheet for a detailed translation of the auction sheet:

2008 Lexus SC 430 auction sheet

“Interior B, first registered April 2008, FAT, AAC, SC430 model, original AWs, power steering, power windows, leather, original TV, original navigation system, airbag, AM radar, black leather seats, spare key, original multifunction system, some service history by Lexus dealer (6 pages), steering wheel worn, seats worn, wheels scratched, scratches and dents, marks as per map”

Toyota’s Tokyo Concepts Pt. 2 – JPN Taxi, Voxy & Noah, and Aqua G Sports

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Yesterday we discussed Toyota’s two most important world premieres slated for the upcoming 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. However, those two concepts – the hydrogen-powered Toyota FCV Concept and the innovative Toyota FV2 Concept – were only the tip of the iceberg. Toyota is bringing seven total new(ish) concepts to Tokyo, so we have a lot left to cover today if we’re going to make it through everything. With that being said, let’s jump right in…

Toyota JPN Taxi Concept

Toyota JPN Taxi

While you might have a hard time getting excited about a taxi, the Toyota JPN Taxi Concept is one that may change your mind. As you can see, the design is well above your average taxicab, but it’s what’s going on underneath the hood that really sets the JPN Taxi Concept apart. Under the hood, you’ll find a new liquefied petroleum gas hybrid system that has been designed from the ground up to match the driving patterns of an average city cab… The JPN TAXI will stand up to long hours of operation and lots of city driving; all while quietly sipping on its LPG fuel. Obviously, The JPN taxi concept is going to be most relevant to its Japanese viewer. The car was developed with assistance from the Japanese Ministries of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, all in order to serve as the next-generation of Japanese hospitality. The concept is built with every type of passenger in mind – large, automatic sliding doors make it easy to enter and exit the vehicle, while a spacious and unobstructed floor plan make it comfortable for long trips.

Toyota JPN Taxi Interior

There’s even a digital display to show passengers information about their cab ride, such as taxi fares and the chosen route to their destination. There, are you excited now?

Toyota Noah & Toyota Voxy Concepts

Toyota Voxy Concept

If somehow you’re not excited, then surely you can get fired up about a couple new minivans, right? No? But, what if they “integrate higher levels of fun, utility and fuel economy?” Now that’s something to get excited about! Toyota’s new Voxy and Noah Concepts both herald a new minivan that will be arriving for Japanese drivers in early 2014. Both concepts are essentially the same vehicle with only the slight modifications, primarily on the front and rear of the vehicles. (Of course, if you want to buy the current or earlier generations of these models, you can always get them in the car auctions.) The Noah Concept, below, “presents sophistication as a compact minivan with standard parts”. Meanwhile, the more aggressively styled Voxy, above, “employs exclusive aerodynamic parts to emphasize the low center of gravity, impressive wide-body, and the overwhelming sense of presence.”

Toyota Noah Concept

Frankly, they may both be very practical and comfortable, but I can’t help but yawn at the 5-year out-of-date styling.

Toyota Aqua G Sports Concept

Toyota Aqua G Sports Concept

Here we have the Toyota Aqua G sports Concept, which is a new version of a more ordinary concept we saw at the 2012 Tokyo Motor Show. (Remember that the Toyota Aqua is the JDM version of the Toyota Prius C.) Toyota handed the compact hybrid over to GAZOO Racing for complete conversion to sports car form, and that’s what we’ll see in Tokyo this year. Best of all? Toyota plans to launch this Aqua G Sports Concept in Japan almost immediately following the Tokyo Motor Show.

Toyota FT-86 Open Concept

Toyota FT-86 Open Concept

The last Japanese premiere Toyota will showcase at the 2013 Tokyo motor show is the Toyota FT-86 Open Concept. You’ll recall that we originally saw the concept just earlier this year in Geneva, but they’ve repainted the car “Flash Red” instead of white. As you can see, it really brings out her eyes. All in all, look like it’ll be a great showing from Toyota. Stay tuned later this week for more Japanese car news!

The Toyota FT-86 Convertible is Here… Almost

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, April 13th, 2013

The Toyota GT-86, otherwise known as the Scion FR-S or the Subaru BRZ, was easily one of the most successful Japanese cars from 2012. In its short time on the market, the youthful coupe has received nothing but praise for its highly responsive driving, luxurious interior design and fluid exterior styling. Jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru, the coupe has been an out of the park success.

But, ever since its inception – even before it made it to production – prospective drivers have begged for a convertible version of the GT-86. There are very few roadsters on the market, and even fewer well-liked ones. A drop-top GT-86 would contend primarily with the Mazda Miata as the only other respectable vehicle in its class.

Toyota 86 Covertible

In answer to the automotive community’s desperate pleas, last month Toyota previewed a Toyota FT-86 Open concept, top-down. In short, it looked amazing. A white color scheme with navy blue and gold accents made the car look clean and breathable, fitting to a convertible. And it should look good, since Toyota admits that the coupe was originally developed and designed with a possible convertible version in mind. Even still, the Japanese automaker insisted that the FT-86 Open was only shown to test the waters, and that much more work needed to be done before a production model would be possible.

To be fair, designing and engineering a convertible is very difficult. There are many more variables that go into the work of producing a convertible than a normal hard-top car. Trunk space is an issue. Rear seat space is an issue. Chassis rigidity is an issue. Safety is an issue. And of course, maintaining fluid exterior styling is the biggest issue of all. This is all amplified by the extremely high expectations that the public would have for the FT-86. So, original design intentions not withstanding, there’s a mountain of problems to address before a convertible GT-86/FR-S/BRZ can safely be brought to market.

Nonetheless, it appears that the FT-86 Open may be closer to production than we’d dared hope. Earlier this week, the folks over at Car & Driver scooped up some patent application images of the Toyota FT-86 Open concept with the top folded up. This is the first time we’ve seen the top up, and I have to say that it was definitely worth the wait. Just look at how smoothly the folding roof blends into the exterior lines that define the GT-86’s design. It looks very similar to the coupe, with exactly the right proportions. Flawless.

As far as how the FT-86 will perform, we still don’t know very much. Obviously, these are just patent images, so no one’s had the pleasure of driving one yet. Still, Toyota originally claimed that they’d compensate the loss of rigidity that comes naturally without a roof with a firmer chassis and suspension, so our expectations are high for how this FT-86 will drive.

Either way, for now I think we can all be happy just seeing this car in its full form for the first time. The Toyota FT-86 is looking stellar, and I personally can’t wait to see this car in the metal at a future auto show, hopefully later this year.

Thanks for reading!

Source: Car and Driver

Toyota FT-86 Open Concept Previewed for Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

As many of you know, the highly anticipated international Geneva Motor Show is set to take place next week. Already, we’ve previewed several new cars and concepts from some of the most popular Japanese brands, but we have one more for you today – The Toyota FT-86 Open concept.

Toyota FT86 Open Concept

Last night, a small photo set and accompanying video of the new Toyota FT-86 were leaked on the Internet. Today, Toyota UK hastily released the official media along with a press release just in time for Geneva. This is a similar approach they took with the Furia concept right before the Detroit Auto Show; they released an assortment of promotional material the week before to build anticipation, but not so much in advance that the anticipation wears off before the show.

So, with pictures, video and a press release, what do we know about the new Toyota FT-86 concept convertible?

Toyota FT-86 vs. Mazda Miata

Since its original unveil at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been one of the most popular convertibles on the market. And it doesn’t take an auto-enthusiast to see why – the Miata roadster is stylish, hip, sporty and fun, and available with a plethora of aesthetic and performance variations.

Toyota feels like their GT86 coupe has what it takes to compete with the little Mazda roadster, and that’s where the FT-86 concept comes in.

According to the press release, the FT-86 Open concept was “created to test the water for the possible introduction of a convertible version of [Toyota’s] globally acclaimed GT86 sports coupe.” You can bet that Toyota will be keeping a close tab on how both press and public react to the FT-86 at Geneva.

What’s The Difference Between the GT86 and the FT-86?

Truth be told, not that much. According to Toyota, “the concept has been designed to deliver the lively, highly engaging and accessible performance and dynamic abilities of the GT86 with the added appeal of top-down motoring.” Toyota is taking the classic “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” approach to the FT-86; they know they have a popular coupe and all they want to do is port it into a popular convertible.

Still, there are a few differences. For example, the FT-86 features larger wheels and a restyled interior. And of course, there is the folding soft top that you won’t find on the GT86 coupe, but that distinction is probably obvious.

If you’d like to get a better taste for what the Toyota FT-86 Open concept might bring to the table when/if produced, then take some time to browse through the photo set Toyota included with the press-kit.

Source: Autoblog

Jay Leno Takes Topless Lexus LFA Out On It’s Home Track By Mount Fuji

Posted by Stephen On Monday, October 8th, 2012

Fans of car aficionado and late-night giant Jay Leno got a treat the other night on his popular show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” as the comic veteran took the Lexus LFA out for a spin in the car’s homeland. Making a stop first at Toyota City where Leno watched the LFA being built, the all-things-car expert then traveled to world renowned Fuji Speedway where he took the Lexus LFA out for a spin.

Unique Open LFA

But it wasn’t just any Lexus LFA Mr. Leno took out onto the track in Oyama, Japan; rather it was a white, roofless speedster that is the clean-air version of the sporty Lexus. While Leno said that the V10 was the only roofless car to be made, savvy car buffs will remember back to 2008 when a maroon roofless version was on display at auto shows (of course, maybe it wasn’t running back then and has since been repainted). Well, the one thing that he did have right is that the car is indeed, roofless. There’s no hidden storage of the roof anywhere: it simply wasn’t made with a roof, detachable or otherwise.

Regardless, Leno’s joyous reiteration of the phrase, “Oh, my God” as the supercar deftly handled the curves while hugging the track at Mt. Fuji were enough to let anyone know just how he feels about this car: superb. Proclaiming that no other care feels as “refined” as this Lexus, it was quite clear that Leno was taken aback by the innovative design, precision handling and brilliant craftsmanship that went into the car.

Lexus LFA Manufacturing Process

Earlier in the day, Leno visited the plant where the LFA is made and discussed the textile weaving process that the carbon fiber tub that holds the LFA together is constructed from. This structure is essential in allowing the LFA’s build to be stronger than steel, yet lighter than 20 kilograms. He also spoke about the intricate construction process, during which no worker is allowed to touch the car with their bare hands, instead having to wear gloves throughout the entire assembly process. Coolant is pumped at thirty-two square pounds of pressure runs through the door frame at all times, winding up in the rear radiator, which is essential in helping to cool  such a powerful engine.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure: the Lexus LFA was built for class, speed, elegance and luxury and I would not be surprised to see one joining Jay Leno’s extensive car collection after his latest trip to Japan.

Japanese Car Auction Find: Alfa Romeo RZ (Zagato-Designed Convertible)

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

It’s almost a year since I posted about an Alfa Romeo SZ that I had seen in one of the car auctions in Japan. The design is very striking and it must still be on my brain, because today I was skimming through the auctions and found this sister car — the Alfa Romeo RZ (convertible).

This one is even rarer than the SZ. Alfa planned to build 350 of these drop tops, but only got around to making 278 in the end.

And this one is an absolutely superb example. First of all, it’s a 1994 import, but with only 32, 310 KM on the clock. That’s an incredibly low 20,076 miles. Then it’s also a grade 4.5, which is the best you are going to see on a car this age. Actually,while we’re at it, here’s the full translation:

“Interior B, first registered December 1994, chassis type unknown, 2WD, 5-speed manual, leather seats, power steering, power windows, original AWs, LHD, not known if gray or official import, no catalytic convertor fitted, oil leak from ride height control unit  – repairs needed, seats worn, interior scratches, wheels scratched, minor scratches and minor dents, front windscreen stone scratches, exterior paintwork worn just in front of right rear wheel arch, minor scratch under front bumper.”

So, just a small leak to repair and there you have it — a pristine show car.

I don’t know…. I think last year I was still undecided about whether I really liked the styling of these SZ and RZ Alfa’s. You can’t accuse Zagato of being anything less than bold, that’s for sure.

But seeing this car now, I have to say that I think the shape is growing on me.

I really think this is a potential future classic. Take a look at the pictures of this Alfa Romeo RZ at auction today and tell me what you think in the comments below.

Alfa Romeo RZ convertible 1994 (front) - at a car auction in Japan

Alfa Romeo RZ convertible 1994 (auction sheet) - at a car auction in Japan

Alfa Romeo RZ convertible 1994 (interior) - at a car auction in Japan

Alfa Romeo RZ convertible 1994 (rear) - at a car auction in Japan

Whether you are after a modern classic like this Alfa Romeo RZ, or whether you are looking for a plain and simple Toyota Corolla to get you to and from your work, Japan’s car auctions can be a great place to look.