The Venerated Silk Road Project

silk-road

Those among us who remember when Toyota, Honda and even Mitsubishi made sports cars, likely lamented the passing of the venerated Supra, Prelude and 3000GT, shuffled off production lines, and summarily relegated to the collective dustbin of history! Honda consistently rumors that they are making a new Prelude, but it appears Toyota has teamed up with BMW and are putting their money into a joint-venture (FT-1 concept) Supra. Car enthusiasts will likely let out cacophonous howls as they dream of driving a Supra again! As for the name, I may have gotten a little carried away, as it is not yet in stone. It could be Supra, it could be 2000GT, or perhaps something else. The name aside, this car is going to be coming to dealerships soon, likely in the next calendar year.

This great new sports car, that will share market space with the likes of the Ford Mustang for example, will come in a coupe, as well as convertible models, and the BMW partnership will bring credibility to the project. The BMW Z4 is the only car in the combined car lines of these 2 companies that even comes close to the FT-1 concept car. This concept car will likely be a replacement model for BMW’s Z4, but that which lacks all of the goodies of the Z4. The price-point for this car is rumored to be around $40,000. The Z4, which many claim was done-in by the mortgage crisis, and subsequent economic downturn, was discontinued by BMW in 2009. That said, this space is ripe for a new addition while these 2 companies work out the details of how to brand and position this concept car going forward.

Many are wondering about the powertrain, and with all the moves toward the four-cylinder engines, it is a sign that the V6s and V8s engines, both environmentally less friendly than the V4s, are also not going to fit in the diminutive engine space allocated in the presumptive new Supra. There is also talk of a V6 option, which would be an inline, turbo engine. This will come with upgraded models, and the standard engine will likely be a high-powered V4 manufactured by BMW. All things considered, this is an exciting idea for this space, and for the sports car market to earn some more attention from buyers.

Toyota announced the new car is not going to look like the FT1-concept car necessarily, and BMW announced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year that although both the 86 Supra and the concept car will share the same platform, they will be entirely different looking cars. This collaboration, which has earned the name “The Silk Road Project,” will place BMW in charge of engine development and chassis, and Toyota will handle all of the eco-friendly, hybrid technology options, which if the wildly successful Prius is any indicator, should go very well.

Perhaps it will again be exciting to go to a dealership and be able to purchase a sports car that does not exceed average annual incomes! There might not be a better collaboration of 2 automotive manufacturers than that of the high-powered BMW with the domestically-coveted Toyota. This could well be one of those seemingly ethereal “win-win” situations!

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