Many gearheads know that manufacturers often use scale replicas during the design process to refine the look and features of upcoming models. Various ‘design studies’ and styling prototypes are made–often by hand–to help designers and decision-making execs evaluate and refine their product line plans, as well as help with engineering aspects such as wind tunnel testing. Historically these models have been made of all sorts of materials–clay, wood, resin, and more recently plastic and carbon fiber. As the design process has shifted from hand-drawn to computer-based, some companies have done away with physical scale models in favor of 3D digital models, but others — like Toyota — still see value in having a physical, tangible representation of a vehicle. 1/5-scale is a common size for such models, as they are big enough to trigger emotional/psychological impressions in people, and also accurately simulate airflow and drag in a wind tunnel.
Some manufacturers destroy these design studies after the vehicle goes to production, but others preserve them for posterity and to inspire future design projects. In Toyota’s case, their models have been squirreled away in the highly restricted design HQ, where only a very few could appreciate them. As part of their Toyota 75 celebration the company took them out and made them available to the public.
Here are a couple of great sites that took advantage — and plenty of photos! — of these rare replicas!
Check out the images below at SpeedHunters.com and CarScoops.com for the full stories: