I came across this extremely uncommon sight in my hometown of Santiago, Chile. This car is not only rare as in “difficult to find,” it is simply strange to behold–look at it! It’s like a happy blob from the future. Of course, being a car fan, I knew exactly what it was at once: a Toyota Will Cypha!
These were not sold in Chile and in fact, the Cypha was only sold in Japan from 2002 to 2005, never exported while new. Have you seen any where you live? Do you like it? I do.
This cute Toyota is likely one of the many used Japanese cars brought into the country through the port of Iquique, in the north of the country. Unlike the rest of Chile, in both Iquique and Punta Arenas (on the southern tip) you are allowed to import used cars, but only for driving in the most remote regions.
Most of these used cars come from Japan and have their steering wheels (and other relevant pieces) converted to left-hand drive. In this case, having the instrument cluster in the middle of the dashboard surely helped the localization process. A lot of them also used to be sold in Bolivia after conversions took place until the government of Evo Morales forbade the importation of cars over five years old in 2008.
But back to the car itself: The Cypha (pormanteau of “Cyber” and “Phaeton”) was one of the more unusual looking cars Toyota sold as part of the Will sub-brand in the early 2000s. Will was a combined effort from companies in different product ranges, from beer and household items to cars, to attract younger customers. As an example, above is an advert for Will candy.
Mechanically, the car is nothing special, being based on the Vitz (Yaris) platform–which explains those instruments in the middle of the dashboard–with available 1,300 and 1,500 cc. engines. One interesting characteristic, though, is the availability of a 4WD option, which must be the reason why I found a few videos on Youtube of second (and third and fourth) hand Will Cyphas for sale in the Russian Far East.
The TV ads for the Cypha are intentionally off-beat, in line with the car’s looks. Already having a strange and futuristic–but cute and simple–design, advertising went even further in clearly targeting the Cypha to women, portraying it as some sort of weird Pokémon on wheels. Girls want to drive a harmless, motorized Pikachu, right?
Also highlighted in the commercials is the G-Book navigation service from Toyota, this car being among the first to receive it.
By the way, the idea of a sub-brand targeted to younger drivers is one Toyota would partially replicate in the U.S. with its “Project Genesis“, and later again in the form of Scion. The Will sub-brand saw three models as part of its lineup, all sold though the Toyota Vista stores. First was the Will Vi, which came out in 2000.
Looking somewhat like a modern take on a Citroën 2CV with the rear window of a Ford Anglia, it wasn’t very successful, and was replaced by the Will Cypha.
A larger companion of the Will Vi and later, the Cypha, was the Will VS, launched in 2001. A very modern looking car, it was sadly never exported, and its sales in Japan ended in 2004, coinciding with the death of the Will-branded products.
I must confess that, if I recall correctly, I first knew of the Will Cypha from its Tomica small-scale (Matchbox size) version. I’m a diecast collector and the only reason I was in this Will’s neighborhood is because I was selling the same exact Tomica to a local collector. What a coincidence!
This is it, a model I thought and still think looks really cool. It’s all about the uniqueness of the car’s styling. And well, the real thing actually looks a lot like a life-size toycar…