Tokyo Traffic Capsule: 2001 Toyota Origin – Past Is Present

Just outside of my hotel, as I was walking to the crosswalk in order to duck into yet another FamilyMart, one of the ubiquitous combinis blanketing Tokyo, I was stopped in my tracks by a very unfamiliar yet somehow familiar shape.  After a second’s thought while I reflexively raised the camera and started snapping I recalled seeing this car in one of the car magazines a long time ago.  Sure enough, after taking all the shots I could and looking up the name that I thought I saw on its flank, I remembered reading about the Toyota Origin and then completely forgetting about it for almost two decades.  But this was my lucky day.

What is a Toyota Origin, you ask? Well, Toyota apparently saw the rest of the world getting into retro-themed cars and decided they might as well do one as well.  As a result, they created a limited edition vehicle of which only 1000 examples were to be built, in actuality the run ended up with several dozen additional examples being produced.  But while the rest of the world was recreating what had become icons of the motoring world, Toyota went in a slightly different direction.

Based on the platform of the Toyota Progrès, a midsize sedan, this was a premium offering and sold starting in November of 2000; they sold the lot of them within the next year and only in Japan.  Styling was in the mold of the original Toyopet Crown with the same “interesting” touches such as the reverse D-pillar, suicide doors, and jewel-like tail lights.

The price at the time was seven million Yen each, which equated to about US$63,400, which when further adjusted for inflation (US, not Japan) equates to about US$90,000 today.  A princely sum, in other words.  As with the original Toyopet Crown, it does look a little homely and certainly more so than I’d like my $90k to purchase but it is distinctive and I suppose fairly rare, or at least I didn’t see any others.  As with almost every car I saw in Japan it was in immaculate condition and this one was driven by a lady.

At least it’s adequately powered, being endowed with one of Toyota’s JZ engines, a 3-liter inline six also used in the Supra and the Lexus SC300, in fact this was one of the last uses of it.  The interior was created from a blend of other Toyota and Lexus items and looks/feels sumptuous enough for the price, it’s not just your average Camry LE in there.

Sadly I didn’t get to see the actual interior of this one but felt lucky to just get these shots; right when you could use a good traffic jam it flows smoothly and just like that the Origin wafted on up the street.