Although most people might consider it odd I enjoy wandering around the junkyard when I get the chance. I have in the past claimed that it is a cheap form of entertainment and certainly delivers a better bang for buck value than spending a couple hours in the theater watching yet another super hero movie. As a result I have often come across interesting vehicles at the junkyard but this WiLL Vi has to rank as one of the most unexpected finds I have seen. Nissan had their more well known Pike Factory retro cars of the late Eighties and early Nineties but Toyota also got into the retro styling game as well and one example is this reserve rake rear window Vi.
WiLL was not strictly a car company only but rather a shared marketing strategy aimed at younger buyers in the Japanese market. A diverse set of brands participated including Toyota, Panasonic, Kao, among others. The product offerings under the WiLL brand were incredibly different ranging from beer to personal hygiene to fax machines. Toyota offered vehicles with unusual styling intended to appeal to buyers outside the traditional Toyota brand but sold at Toyota Vista Store locations. The intended vision of the automotive side of WiLL would have some parallels to Scion in North America.
You can visit the archived website courtesy of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine here.
The styling is unique and channels various small cars from the Sixties without trying to copy any specific one. The rear window is a reminder of a Citroen Ami or Ford Anglia perhaps but with an overall French small car vibe. Under the skin the mechanical specification was purely Toyota Vitz (Yaris, Echo hatchback depending on market) with front wheel drive and a 2NZ-FE 1.3L four cylinder engine. Acceleration would have been leisurely with an mandatory automatic transmission and curb weight of just over 2,000lbs.
The retro fad had faded by the time the Vi was released in the year 2000 and perhaps as a result sales were disappointing which lead to a short two model year lifespan. The slightly more convention looking VS and equally unconventional Cypha followed in 2001 and 2002 respectively. John Llyod shared this brochure for the VS.
The equally unusual but less retro Cypha.
Why would such a rare (especially in North America) vehicle find its way to the scrapyard in Alberta? Coming around the front it is easy to see that a collision coupled with a lack of easily obtainable repair panels likely did this one in. It seems improbable that anyone will have much practical use for any of the parts off it. While the engine is similar to a Toyota Echo its smaller size was not sold in this market making it rather undesirable.
For reference here is the front end of one that has not been involved in a front end collision.
Amazingly someone did snag the HVAC controls and radio out of this one however which makes the dashboard look even more minimalist. It is a bit sad that such a rare and interesting car that traveled so far from its home market only to be crashed and then unceremoniously dumped into a scrapyard. Perhaps this post can stand in as a memorial of a sort.