Toyota Origin - Origin an Oddity
Now here’s something you don’t see often and probably haven’t seen before.
Anyone want to guess when this majestic Toyota was first minted? Well done to those who said 2000, the year that the Toyota Origin was created. A limited edition special, the Origin was Toyota’s way of marking a significant milestone, that being the production of its 100 millionth vehicle in Japan.
This was a process that started way back in November of 1935 when the Model G1 truck rolled out of the automobile department of Toyoda Automobile Loom Works, the precursor to Toyota. It was six months later that passenger car production commenced with the Model AA in April 1936.
So you might think the Origin draws its retro styling inspiration from the AA, but Toyota had already produced such a special, the Classic in 1996 and so the Origin gets its design influence from Toyota’s long-running Crown range of cars.
The original debuted in 1955 with the Toyopet Crown RS, the first generation of cars running through until 1962. And it’s these cars that give the Origin its unique look, complete with the suicide rear doors, finned rear quarters and elongated jewel-like taillights. While you’d never call this a thing of beauty, it’s certainly interesting.
The profile is most bizarre with its curved roofline and short rear deck but if you seek out a few pics of the original Crown, the stylists have managed to work most of the Toyotpet’s curious design cues into the Origin. This is where they get the moustache-like grille, the curved rear screen and the slashing angle of the C-pillar.
Along with the excesses of chrome, the retro styling proved convincing enough to fool a few passers-by during our photoshoot into thinking it was a genuine old timer. These Origins were made by Kanto Auto Works, (now Toyota Motor East Japan) the site where Crown production originally commenced. The Origin’s limited run spanned from May 2000 to April 2001 with a total of 1073 minted according to Toyota’s 75th anniversary website.
It was only ever sold new on the Japanese domestic market, and given the cost of tooling for such limited build numbers and the fact it was designed as both a celebration of Toyota’s heritage and technology of the time, the Origin was not a cheap car when new.
It listed for ¥7,000,000 in 2000 while a Toyota Celsior (the Japanese market version of the Lexus LS400) was ¥5,900,000. Even at that price, it was rumoured that Toyota sold every Origin at a loss. The Origin used Toyota’s ‘N’ rear-drive platform, which also underpinned the Crown and Mk II ranges, as well as various Lexus models including the IS, GS and LS. It was also one of the last Toyotas to use the firm’s revered 2JZ straight-six.
This 3.0-litre naturally aspirated version made 157kW and ran through a four-speed auto. Although this recently imported version has covered over 160,000km, to drive it’s still as creamy as the hue of the car’s headlining. The suspension is set to soak up all the bumps, and the driveline is silken, hushed too. Its interior is a wondrous mix of buttery beige leather and velvety smooth finishings. The rear suicide doors make for excellent access to the back seat where there is a heap of headroom thanks to the bubble-like curve of the roofline.
The wood treatment is very Japanese, especially its application on the ends of the indicator and wiper wands. The Origin also features some Lexus-like tech with the inclusion of traction control, radar cruise control, sat nav and electrically adjusted seats and steering column, all rare at the time.
And it’s the rarity of the Origin that sees it becoming a desirable collectable among the JDM fans, with good examples quickly rising in price.
This one was landed for $26k but lower mileage examples are steadily rising in value, making even the least visually desirable Japanese cars increasingly collectable.