Yamaha made good cars for Toyota, but they had the world's worst accountants
When Toyota announced in 1965 that they were going to make a proper sports car, people thought they had gone mad. But sure enough, in 1967, they delivered. Enter the 2000GT. It had a 2 litre Inline 6 engine (hence the name 2000) which produced 150 hp, two seats and rear wheel drive. Sound familiar? Well the Toyota Supra is the spiritual successor of the 2000GT, and aside from some more modern touches such as turbocharging and actual functioning electronics, the basic recipe is the same.
The 2000Gt definitely had the looks and the performance of it's rivals. This is because it was co developed with Yamaha, one of the best Japanese piano makers in the world. Yes, you heard that right. But asides, they also had a very successful racing team, on both two wheels and four. Yamaha designed the underpinnings such as the engine, suspension and brakes and Toyota designed the body and interior. They actually designed it intentionally to look like the Jaguar E-Type and other european sports cars of the time. And it does. Very nice.
There was only one real problem with it. It cost $7000 when it was new. That was about twice as much as the equivalent Porsche 911. And the worst thing about it, is that they LOST money on EVERY SINGLE ONE. You'd think that with a sales flop like that, surely Toyota would learn from their mistake? No. Not even slightly
Enter 2009, and the absolutely gorgeous Lexus LFA. A car that, at the time of it's release, was in development for nearly 10 years. Aside from the obvious differences of a big engine up front, 2 seats and rear wheel drive, the other major similarity with the old 2000GT ,was that the LFA too, was co developed by Yamaha. Now obviously, for a supercar, that's good news, for the reasons I stated above. Yamaha focused mainly on the engine, which in the LFA was a 4.8 litre V10 with 553 hp. It was a real screamer, and revved to 9000 rpm, and souded almost exactly like a Formula 1 car.
But, ALSO like the 2000GT, it was a massive sales flop. Partly because it cost over £300,000 which again, was twice as much as the rivals, and even with that massive price, they still managed to lose money from it. Imagine that. You spend 10 years developing a car that ends up ruining your company. Fantastic.
Now we have to assess the issue here. It's not Toyota's fault, as they have built many excellent cars that sold well and didn't ruin the economy. But as soon as they got yamaha involved, the complete opposite happened. Clearly Yamaha don't have the best accountants. Maybe they should stick to Pianos.