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Toyota's history of building sports cars is deeper than you think – Driving

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Toyota built its reputation in North America on the backs of ultra-reliable commuter cars and unkillable compact trucks, both of which the company churned out in droves throughout the 1980s and 1990s. At the same time, however, it continued to make a play not just for the dollars of its ever-growing customer base, but also their souls in the form of competent, innovative, and competitive sports cars both here and abroad.

It’s an aspect of the automaker’s history that is often overlooked from a modern perspective. While the Supra’s contributions to Toyota’s sporting past are currently in the spotlight thanks to the introduction of a new model after an extended hiatus, there’s far more to the brand’s personality than just its most famous two-door model.

Starting small


1967 Toyota 2000GT

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Toyota

Toyota’s first foray away from the sensible trucks and sedans built under its original Toyopet nameplate occurred in the 1960s, on opposite ends of the price spectrum. Internationally, all eyes were on the 2000GT coupe and the starring role it played — as a one-off convertible — in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. In addition to its elegant looks, the 2000GT offered 150 horsepower from a six-cylinder engine, and straddled the line between sports and GT segments. Built in 1967, the car was a strong departure from what American audiences had previously been exposed to from Japanese designers, and although very few were produced it was a highly influential model both inside and outside the company.

Prior to the 2000GT’s silver screen debut, however, Toyota would move forward with the Sports 800, a two-seater that was within the reach of the average consumer. After three years on the show circuit, the 800 would hit showrooms in 1965, where it provided a modest 44 horsepower from a sub-one-litre four-cylinder engine. Weighting in a just over 1,000 kilograms, the Sports 800 — or ‘Toyota 8’ — was engaging to drive in way none of the previous Toyopet models could claim.

Bridging the gap


1971 Toyota Celica

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Toyota

After a successful showing in motorsports from both the 2000GT and the Sports 800, Toyota decided it was time to export more than just econoboxes to America. Still, there were some concessions that had to be made in order to keep the books balanced, which meant that the Toyota Celica would initially err more on the side of daily driver than canyon carver, when it what first shipped across the Pacific in 1970.

Mimicking aspects of the popular Ford Mustang in terms of styling and engineering, but lacking the domestic model’s muscle car powerplant — early Celicas would never offer more than a 2.2-litre four-cylinder — the car represented Toyota dipping its toes, rather than fully diving into the high performance pool. Following a redesign and a brief, uncomfortable co-existence as platform donor to the original Supra, the Celica’s sporty aspirations would be placed on the shelf as Toyota again adopted a dual-prong approach to pleasing sports car fans in the 1980s.

Go-Go 80s


1988 Toyota MR2 S/C

DW Burnett /

Hagerty

This time, the focus was almost fully on North America. The A60 Supra — a smart shrinking of the previous generation’s ungainly proportions, matched with a potent straight-six motor — would for the first time tempt import-curious drivers with a mix of power and comfort in the Toyota showroom for the 1982 model year. In many ways, the company was playing catch-up to Nissan/Datsun, which had seen enormous success with its Z coupe and was now pushing into a more upmarket implementation of the vehicle.

A couple of years later, Toyota would flex its engineering muscle and deliver something none of its Japanese rivals could match: A relatively cheap and attractive mid-engine sports car. Called the MR2, it adopted the same lightweight principles that had guided the Sports 800, but enhanced with near-perfect weight balance and a suspension setup that had been breathed on by the masters at Lotus. Initially offered with a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, the MR2 would eventually gain a supercharged model that would further enhance its street cred.

Right around the same period, Toyota elected to bring the Celica back into the mix as a bridge between the impractical yet fun MR2, and the upmarket Supra. By 1987, the coupe was being offered with a turbocharged engine and an all-wheel drive system reminiscent of the automaker’s rally efforts (dubbed the GT-Four or All-trac, depending on the market), which complemented front-wheel drive models that came before it. A redesign just before the end of the decade would give the Celica more striking styling and continue the turbocharged fun into the 1990s, with power ultimately reaching 200 horses.

Even the Corolla got its share of the fun, as Toyota experimented with giving its entry-level model a twin-cam hatchback (and coupe) that would go on to be immortalized in the drift scene as the ‘hachi roku’ or ’86.’ This would close out the Corolla’s rear-wheel drive roots before the vehicle was moved to a more cost-effective, and efficient, front-wheel drive platform of its own.

Spend all the money


1994 Toyota Supra

Handout /

Toyota

The 1990s were a heady time for the Japanese auto industry, and the soaring yen and seemingly unlimited economic expansion encouraged engineers and designers to work on projects that reached well past expectations, both at home and around the world.

This is the era that the Supra — which had been motoring along for several years as a less-focused, turbocharged grand touring car — would morph into the fire-breathing, twin-turbocharged, 2JZ-equipped sports coupe that would become a legend among aftermarket tuners due to its incredible capacity for eating boost and not blowing up. It’s also the same environment that produced the final generation of the MR2, which adopted mini-exotic body work and a similarly mod-friendly turbocharged four-cylinder.

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After the turn of the Millennium, Toyota began to divert funds away from its sports car programs, and funnel them instead into Lexus — which itself produced the limited-production LFA supercar. The Supra would disappear, and the MR2 would be replaced by the milquetoast MR-S roadster, creating a decade-long lull before the Toyota 86-nee-Scion FR-S once again shake the brand awake from its slumber.

Given the company’s long history of building potent performance cars, it’s disappointing (and somewhat baffling) that its latest Supra is a Toyota in name only, having farmed out its engineering to BMW. Sports cars may no longer move anything like the volume they once commanded, what with their status as symbols of conspicuous consumption having been usurped by SUVs, but here’s hoping that the next Toyota-badged sizzler is home-grown.

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Enter the Zuckerverse? Social media churns with new names for Facebook

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Zuckerverse. Timesuck. Faceplant.

They’re just a few of the suggestions being bandied around online following reports that Facebook plans to rebrand itself with a new group name. The company refused to comment on rumor or speculation, of course, but the Twitterati had no problem.

The debate careered from sensible to screwball to strange.

“Meta” was one of the more sober trending suggestions, referring to Facebook’s reported desire to assume a name that focuses on the metaverse, a virtual environment where users can hang out.

Bookface, Facegram, Facetagram, FreeFace, FreeTalk, World Changer.

On the wilder side, Twitter user Dave Pell drew a comparison with musician Kanye West who recently changed his name to “Ye”.

“It would be awesome if Facebook changes its name to  Ye,” he said.

Several humorous suggestions reflected online speculation that the alleged rebrand was driven by founder Mark Zuckerberg’s yearning to make Facebook “cool” once more.

The platform has been deserted by many younger users who have moved to apps like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, and has become increasingly populated by older people.

“Teenage Wasteland”, one wit suggested.

“The Old People’s App because that’s what us younger people call it,” college student Vittoria Esteves told Reuters in Rome.

“Boomerville”, suggested Marco, referring to so-called baby boomers born in the years following World War II.

‘STREISAND EFFECT’

The online naming feast was sparked by a report on the Verge tech site that a newly named group would act as a parent for all the company’s brands, including Facebook itself, Instagram and WhatsApp, and reflect a focus on virtual and augmented reality.

An announcement is expected next week, according to the report.

Many suggestions however reflected the public’s concern about how the company handles user safety and hate speech. Internal documents leaked by a whistleblower formed the basis for a U.S. Senate hearing last week.

“Fakebook”, for example. Tracebook.

Other people were sceptical whether a name change would be enough to detract from the growing legal and regulatory scrutiny that has tarnished the company’s reputation.

“It’s going to be the Barbra Streisand effect thing going on,” said 20-year old Glasgow student Thomas van der Hoven, referring to the phenomenon where seeking to suppress something inadvertently turbo-charges popular interest in it.

“So they’re going to try and change it, and then that’s just going to put the spotlight on the fact that they’re changing it. Why are they changing this?” he added. “So it’s probably going to spit back in their face at some point.”

 

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Antonio Denti; Additional reporting by Reuters newsrooms; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Tesla says new factories will need time to ramp up, posts record revenue

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Tesla Inc said on Wednesday its upcoming factories and supply-chain headwinds would put pressure on its margins after it beat Wall Street expectations for third-quarter revenue on the back of record deliveries.

The world’s most valuable automaker has weathered the pandemic and the global supply-chain crisis better than rivals, posting record revenue for the fifth consecutive quarter in the July-to-September period, fueled by a production build-up at its Chinese factory.

But the company led by billionaire Elon Musk faces challenges growing earnings in coming quarters due to supply chain disruptions and the time required to ramp up production at new factories in Berlin and Texas.

“There’s quite an execution journey ahead of us,” Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said, referring to the new factories.

Price fluctuations of raw materials such as nickel and aluminum had created an “uncertain environment with respect to cost structure”, he added.

Even so, he said Tesla was “quite a bit ahead” of its plan to increase deliveries by 50% this year.

“Q4 production will depend heavily on availability of parts, but we are driving for continued growth,” he said.

Tesla shares, up about 23% this year, were down about 0.6% in extended trade late on Wednesday.

Musk himself was not present on the quarterly earnings call for the first time, a development that may have disappointed those investors keen to hear the celebrity CEO’s latest thoughts.

Third-quarter revenue rose to $13.76 billion from $8.77 billion a year earlier, slightly beating analyst expectations according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Tesla’s automotive gross margin, excluding environmental credits, rose to 28.8%, from 25.8% the previous quarter.

Tesla’s overall average price fell as it sold more lower-priced Model 3 and Model Y cars, but it raised prices in the United States.

The company posted robust sales in China, where its low-cost Shanghai factory has surpassed the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, in terms of production.

Tesla also said it intended to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry, which is cheaper than traditional batteries but offers lower range, in entry-level models sold outside China. Analysts said this would help keep costs down and address shortages.

It expected the first vehicles equipped with its own 4680, bigger battery cells to be delivered early next year, although it did not say which model would be fitted with them. Musk said in September last year that using its own cells would let Tesla offer a $25,000 car in three years.

In the third quarter, Tesla posted $279 million in revenue from sales of environmental credits, the lowest level in nearly two years. The company sells its excess environmental credits to other automakers that are trying to comply with regulations in California and elsewhere.

 

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Stephen Coates)

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Samsungs Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bespoke Edition lets users customize their phone – MobileSyrup

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Samsung is letting customers customize their handsets with a new ‘Bespoke Edition’ of the foldable Galaxy Z Flip 3.

The Bespoke Edition lets users configure the foldable smartphone with one or two frame colours (black or silver) and five-panel colours, including ‘Black,’ ‘White,’ ‘Yellow,’ ‘Pink’ and ‘Blue.’

The Bespoke Edition will be available starting October 20th for $1,399.99 CAD.

Samsung says altogether this gives users 49 different colour combinations.

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Additionally, the South Korean company will let users change their device’s colours after purchasing the smartphones with ‘Bespoke Upgrade Care.’

There will also be the Galaxy Watch 4 Bespoke Studio wearables that let users customize their smartwatch before purchasing. It seems like the Z Fold 3 isn’t getting a Bespoke Edition, which is odd considering it was possible to change the frame of the Z Fold 2.

The Bespoke Studio starts at $329.99 for the 40mm variant and the $459.99 for the 42mm version.

Samsung also announced a collaboration with the designer brand Maison Kitsuné that includes special brand editions of the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Watch 4. The special edition designs include cute fox branding on both the watch and buds.

The Maison Kitsuné 40mm Galaxy Watch costs $529.99. And the Maison Kitsuné Edition Galaxy Buds 2 costs $349.99.

The South Korean tech giant is also releasing a Galaxy Watch 4 update that lets users customize their watch faces and the mix and match complications. This update brings gesture controls and the ability to activate an app with a knock-knock motion on your wrist.

To learn more about the Galaxy Z Flip 3, check out my review of the foldable smartphone.

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