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The Toy-ota goes topless

Toyota Camatte57s

Is it a given that Toyota and Lexus will unveil its production and concept vehicles at one of the major, A-list auto shows? Hardly. Of late, the carmaker has revealed new or updated vehicles in venues as diverse as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (4th-gen Lexus GS); Le Rendez-Vous Toyota showroom in Paris’ Champs-Elysées (WiWi Me.We concept); the Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, California (mid-life facelift for the 5th-generation Toyota 4Runner); and even Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport in California (11th-generation Toyota Corolla sedan for North America). Oh, and exactly a year ago to the day, we wrote about the Camatte Sora and Camatte Daichi concepts that debuted at the 2012 Tokyo Toy Show. Now, for the 2013 iteration of said show, Toyota has prepared two new topless takes on the Toy-ota that “Even children can drive!”: the “regular” Camatte57s (shown above) and a far more aggressive and attractive-looking Customized Camatte57s Sport (shown below).


Indeed, rather than receiving Japanese-language names that had us running to Google last year to decipher their meaning, a simple 57s denotes the new-for-2013 sportier topless Camattes. But what is the significance of that number? A homage to the iconic Bugatti Type 57S? Anything to do with Heinz 57 Sauce? No, and no. Rather, as Toyota Global, Europe and USA news releases inform us, the 57 represents the number of body parts in the “regular” Camatte57s, while the “s” stands for the Japanese word sawaru, which means to touch. Add this to Camatte’s derivation from the Japanese word for “care”, meant to signify “caring for others” and “caring for cars”, and, in Toyota’s words, “the name thus reflects the idea that people should feel more in touch with each other and with vehicles.” You certainly can’t get much more touchy-feely than that.

And there we have, other than the toplessness, the main point of departure from last year’s Camatte Sora and Camatte Daichi concepts: rather than a lesser number of largish interchangeable assemblies, 57 individual, much smaller body parts (as shown below) fasten to a spaceframe-type construction via what Jalopnik commentator Old-Busted-Hotness hilariously referred to as “a lot of nipple rings”. As Jalopnik commentators StalePhish and Patrick Frawley, as well as Autoweek‘s Graham Kozak more seriously noted, though, this is essentially Toyota’s take on the mostly unfulfilled promise of spaceframe construction with non-structural body panels, as used by Renault (in their pioneering Espace minivan) and General Motors (in the “dustbuster” minivans from the early-to-mid-1990s, the original Saturn S-series and the Pontiac Fiero). As such, the Camatte57s may well have some untoy-like relevance to Toyota’s future, but please spare us the 10 gazillion nipple rings. There must be a better way to fasten all those body parts…

toyota camatte57s-2 parts

Other aspects of the latest Camatte are similar to its predecessors, including the 1+2, McLaren F1-style seating with the child driver up front in the center and the adult passengers staggered behind. Or, in Toyota’s words,

Acceleration and braking pedals and seats can be adjusted to enable operation by children, while an adult seated in the rear-right seat assists steering and braking to help develop the child’s driving skills.

While sharing the 2012 Camatte’s electric motor and 1800mm (70.9″) wheelbase, the new 57s is 300mm (11.8″) longer, 200mm (7.9″) lower and 140mm (5.5″) wider than its predecessors.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a video worth a thousand pictures? Perhaps. At any rate, Toyota has provided not one but two videos for the Camatte57s. The first, appropriately titled Infinite Possibilities, is a whimsical look at how the multicolored hood in the picture atop this story is just the start. Imagine the whole car like that, or filled with an overwhelming polka dot pattern, or… perhaps we should warn you that the soundtrack can be as cloyingly eye-rolling annoying as some of the possibilities…

The second video is a demonstration of how 2 guys and a girl can attach the 57s body parts to the space frame in 1 minute and 45 seconds…

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