In the early noughties, Toyota made this odd-looking car for a new youth-orientated brand developed with several Japanese companies
One of the weirdest cars Toyota ever made technically isn’t a Toyota at all. The curious, some might say ungainly little beast you see here is the WiLL Vi, part of an odd joint-marketing venture created at the behest of several Japanese companies. Quite a few of them, in fact.
The WiLL brand was intended to target younger consumers with products from Asahi Breweries (beer), Panasonic (fax machines, Minidisc players and much more besides), Ezaki Glico (candy), the Kinki Nippon Tourist Company (holiday tours), Kao (air fresheners) and Kokuyo (stationary). Toyota’s end of the deal, as you’d expect, involved a car.
It made three cars going under the WiLL banner, starting with the Vi. The original Vitz supermini (known to us in the UK as the Yaris) was used as a starting point, upon which Toyota planted a retro-styled four-door body which looked a little like a 2CV. Which someone drew from memory. Having only seen one once from very far away.
It’s powered by a simple 1.3-litre 2NZ-FE naturally-aspirated inline-four producing 88bhp, driving the front wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox. A column-mounted shifter meant Toyota didn’t need to bother with a lower centre console section, allowing for the fitting of a bench-style front seat arrangement. The instrument cluster was, for some reason, positioned in the middle of the chunky dashboard.
The Vi was sold exclusively in Japan, where it failed to make much of an impact. Production lasted just under two years, from early 2000 to late 2001. Toyota replaced it with the slightly less weird-looking WiLL Cypha in 2002, while also producing the bigger, Corolla-based VS.
This two-car line-up lasted until WiLL was wound up in 2005, just shy of five years after it was established. For Toyota, the WiLL cars effectively acted as forerunners to Scion, its longer-lasting youth-oriented brand for the North American market.
The reason we’re talking about this? There’s a rare opportunity to get hold of one in the UK – perfect if you want something odd yet extremely easy and cheap to run. Remember, this is merely a Yaris in a strange suit.
The example seen here is up for online auction via Car and Classic, with virtual bidding opening on 29 March. The 2000-registered example has a mere 82,062 kilometres showing on the clock (51,000 miles) and is a reasonably fresh import, having landed in Britain about 18 months ago.
The pastel pink paintwork is in reasonable condition save for a few stone chips and some discolouration on part of the front bumper. Inside, the delightfully brown and beige interior looks to have held up to its 20+ years in existence very nicely. Its pre-import history is a bit of an unknown, but it has received service work since arriving here. In any case, that’s not a worry considering the basic mechanicals.
It’s hard to say how much it might go for, giving how frequently we see a WiLL Vi for sale in the UK. One was listed on eBay as a classifieds advert for £3000 earlier this month, but we’ve no idea if it sold for that sum.