Toy­ota GTV

(Gas Tur­bine Ve­hi­cle)

NZ Performance Car - - Concept We Forgot - WORDS: JADEN MARTIN

ig-name man­u­fac­tur­ers of­ten used wild con­cept cars to duke it out in order to es­tab­lish au­to­mo­tive dom­i­nance within the mar­ket, with the most out­the-gate de­signs thrusted into the pub­lic eye just for the sake of keeping that brand name rel­e­vant. But there can be a lot of in­no­va­tion found in these for­got­ten pi­o­neers — the kind of stuff that is only re­ally be­ing ex­plored and im­ple­mented prop­erly now, some 30-plus years later.

Toy­ota has al­ways main­tained a slightly less crazy stance with its con­cept cars, look­ing to pro­duce con­cepts as close to pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles as pos­si­ble, and much of what was de­vel­oped in the ’80s and ’90s ended up con­tribut­ing heav­ily to their pro­duc­tion coun­ter­parts.

This month, we’re tak­ing a look at the Toy­ota GTV (Gas Tur­bine Ve­hi­cle), de­buted at the 1987 Tokyo Mo­tor Show. Yep, Toy­ota stuck a damn jet en­gine in a car and made it work. But this ain’t the kind of fire-breath­ing mon­ster you’re pic­tur­ing; it doesn’t send 20m long flames of death out the rear, melt­ing

any­thing in its path or re­quire the ‘driver’ to strap them­selves on top of a thin al­loy-panel-clad mis­sile of sketch­i­ness — it was much, much, more re­fined.

It used Toy­ota’s in-house de­vel­oped ‘Gas Tur­bine II en­gine’, which con­sisted of a one-stage tur­bine that was used to drive a com­pres­sor, while a sec­ond tur­bine was con­nected to the drive­shaft, tak­ing the place of a torque con­verter. And, un­like ear­lier tur­bine en­gines to be tested in au­to­mo­tive use, such as that used in the Chrysler Tur­bine Car, the GTV had a de-cou­pled gas tur­bine, mean­ing that power out­put was de­liv­ered by the sep­a­rate (sec­ond) tur­bine, with a two-stage heat ex­changer de­signed to re­duce the ex­haust­gas tem­per­a­ture and a re­gen­er­a­tor that took waste heat and trans­ferred it to the in­com­ing air, in­creas­ing ef­fi­ciency.

With this kind of ap­pli­ca­tion, you can for­get four-digit rpm, as the com­pres­sor tur­bine spun up to 68,000rpm while the out­put tur­bine spun at up to 65,000rpm. To put those kinds of RPM through the au­to­matic con­tin­u­ously vari­able (CTV) trans­mis­sion was not go­ing to work. Toy­ota’s engi­neers in­stalling a re­duc­tion gear train like those found in land speed rac­ers. The gear­box would go on to be­come the cor­ner­stone of many fu­ture pro­duc­tion mod­els, as did the four-cor­ner dou­ble-wish­bone air sus­pen­sion; how­ever, the GTV never quite made it to deal­er­ship show­rooms. Toy­ota was def­i­nitely head­ing in that di­rec­tion, though, and it is prob­a­bly one of the au­tomak­ers clos­est to pro­duc­tion con­cepts, as it let jour­nal­ists test drive and re­view the car in pro­to­type form.

Kevin Radley wrote of the car in the Fe­bru­ary 1988 edi­tion of Pop­u­lar Sci­ence, “It is like sit­ting in the cock­pit of a jet fighter at take­off. The sounds com­ing from the front of, below, and be­hind the car are what I would ex­pect to hear at Ed­wards Air Force Base, not here at Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion’s Hi­gashi Fuji Prov­ing Ground. It is a high-pitched jet en­gine scream that rises in note and vol­ume as I slide the con­ven­tional au­to­matic trans­mis­sion se­lec­tor from neu­tral into drive and flick the elec­tric park­ing brake off.”

Based on a Toy­ota Ca­rina, with a pro­file rem­i­nis­cent of the Z30 Soarer and de­sign el­e­ments that mimic a bug­eye DC2, it wasn’t hard on the eyes and could very well have made for a pop­u­lar pro­duc­tion car. In­for­ma­tion around why it was binned be­fore reach­ing the pro­duc­tion process is un­clear, but sources sug­gest that it may have been due to in­abil­ity to find a way to make the tur­bine func­tion with the reli­a­bil­ity and ef­fi­ciency re­quired. Who knows? All we can say is that we wouldn’t say no to giv­ing it a whirl, wher­ever it may be kick­ing about these days.

Toy­ota called it the ‘dream en­gine’, due its abil­ity to run on just about any com­bustible fuel. The pro­to­type was run on do­mes­tic kerosene, while it was also ca­pa­ble of run­ning on methanol and vegetable oils

The tur­bine out­put was re­duced by 10.13:1 be­fore be­ing de­liv­ered to the gear­box, giv­ing the GTV a sturdy 110kW and a max­i­mum 333Nm of torque

Dis­claimer: we cut the springs with pho­to­shop, be­cause ev­ery­thing looks bet­ter low­ered, right?

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