This could well be another item in the Japanese-theme series we’re running. The title would then be so long I’d have no room for the rest of the article.
The short story about this car is that it’s Toyota’s first front wheel drive entrant in the mid-size market. The previous Camry had rear-wheel drive. Wikipedia has all the nitty plus all the gritty details of engines (this is probably a 1.8 litre four-cylinder car) and product evolution. They also explain the difference between the cars sold in the two lines of Toyota dealerships (very little). One channel is the Toyota Corolla Store and the other is the Toyota Vista Store. The European models at this time received the Toyota Vista Store grilles, making it more like the Japanese-market Toyota Vista than the Japanese market Toyota Camry or US Camry. I’ll get to the bottom of this dual line of dealerships one day. It’s more confusing than string theory.
Bearing in mind our discussions of Italian influences on Japanese design I had a go looking at this car two ways while it was right in front of me (as night fell). The photos don’t show this up at all well so you will have to bear with me.
If I looked at the car directly, focusing on parts and roaming around I saw the mass of small lines and edges. And that’s how I have always looked at cars. If I look at the car without moving my eyes – focusing on the centre, for example – the impression of the lines fades away and I see the overall form and not one detail. In that way the faintest hint of Peugeot comes out. It’s in the slight fall of the roof and the way the front wing only starts inflecting as it goes forward over the wheel arch. If I revert to staring at the car in small bites, the car resumes its boxiness and I lose sight of any curvature. Try looking at the lower edge of the photo but concentrate your attention on the image which will be slightly outside the centre of your field of vision.. You can see a “different” car that way. It’s not an easy way to look at something: mostly we direct our attention at the same spot our eyes focus on.
Just to be annoying I added some lines to how the side lamps might have looked if the designer had not yielded to the compulsion to make the top of the lamp parallel to the top of the wing (side view). It’s the same thing as happened on the CUE-X we had here recently. Seen side on it looks alright. Seen head on it looks alright. Seen in three-quarter view it’s not right, to my eyes.
Where did I see that rear wheel arch before?
And maybe it goes back a little further…
The source of the Triumph photo is worth a closer look.