Auto Shows The Platypus Toyota Avalon TRD Pro Concept Is a Racetrack Beast
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Lexus isn't willing to show much for now, but the wait is nearly over. A two-second teaser video and a succinct two-sentence press release is all we’re getting from Lexus at this point in regards to the company’s upcoming electric concept. Toyota’s luxury division says the new zero-emissions showcar is a window into the company’s electric and autonomous future, so not only will the vehicle lack a combustion engine, but it also might not have a steering wheel.It is believed the electric concept will take after the LF-SA from 2015, therefore we’re expecting a small hatchback developed mainly for city use.
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The TRD Pro designation is held only by Toyota trucks and SUVs at the moment—Toyota builds TRD Pro versions of the, , , and —but for the 2019 SEMA Show, the Japanese automaker is experimenting with what the TRD Pro line could mean for the cars in its lineup. Alongside a handful of impressive Supra builds, Toyota gave us an early look at its newest unlikely track monster: the Avalon TRD Pro concept.
A Different Kind of TRD Pro
The existing TRD Pro models are differentiated from their peers with specially tuned Fox shocks, big skidplates, nubby tires, and clever off-road drive modes. When Dan (pronounced Don) Gardner and the team at Dan Gardner Spec were approached about developing an Avalon TRD Pro, they knew the Avalon would require a very different kind of modification.
Toyota Supra 3000GT Concept Teased With Big Wing For SEMA
The vented hood takes inspiration from the 1994 TRD3000GT. New teaser images and a video reveal that the Toyota Supra 3000GT Concept ahead of the model's debut at the 2019 SEMA Show on November 5. The company isn't releasing any details about the model at this time, but the pictures are enough to get excited about.The shots reveal the vehicle's hood has cutouts with vents behind them. There's also a massive rear wing over the back.It's not clear at this time whether TRD intends to put these parts into production, but the prospect seems likely.
You might recognize Dan Gardner's name from his shop's previous work on Toyota products for SEMA. In 2015 they built a, and in 2017 they created a . These folks have real experience setting up race cars, and they don't mess around.
Although a lot of SEMA Show cars are just that (all show), Gardner estimates the Avalon TRD Pro concept has completed more than 500 laps at numerous racetracks over the course of its development. After all the changes the DG-Spec team made to this car and the tuning they did on track, the modified Dadmobile achieved a 1-minute, 25.3-second lap on the Streets of Willow track at Willow Springs International Raceway—and the team barely touched the Avalon's 301-hp V-6. A little context for that lap: It's within a second of theand quicker than any of the four entrants in our .
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Concept revealed at Tokyo points to the capacity for autonomous cars to cater to driving enthusiastsThe car was unveiled on stage by Toyota boss Akio Toyota, but no details - including technical or performance - were given about it beyond its name. As such, it is believed to be a concept in the truest sense, pointing merely to the fact that electric vehicles can be fun.
If we're comparing the concept to another big sedan, it's 1.6 seconds faster around Streets of Willow than the 707-hp. Mighty. We spoke with Gardner at Toyota's SEMA preview event to find out exactly what the team had to do to make this Avalon so quick.
Not Your Grandpa's Avalon
According to Gardner, "The heart of this car is the custom differential," which DG-Spec developed with Japanese race shop. Power is up to 330 hp thanks to an intake and exhaust, and the new diff helps ensure that every single horse worth of power makes it to the pavement. "That thing makes this car multiple seconds a lap faster at any track," Gardner says.
But even a trick differential wouldn't help much if they retained the Avalon's stock all-season tires. Out go the all-seasons, replaced by 275-section Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3Rs—the tire Goodyear developed for the track-special. DG-Spec also swapped the wheels for 18x9-inch Lacks rollers with full carbon-fiber barrels that save 15 pounds of unsprung mass per corner.
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We've no idea what it does nor how it works, but it looks cool
Gardner tries to use as many original Toyota parts as possible in his builds, and the Avalon TRD Pro contains parts from five Toyota models. It's not unlike a duck-billed, beaver-tailed platypus of the automotive world, if the platypus were a much faster swimmer.
Gardner's Avalon uses a transmission oil cooler straight off the Tundra pickup, lightweight aluminum uprights form the RAV4, modified Prius suspension uppers for adjustable camber arms, and camber plates from an Australian-market Celica. Everything else is fully custom or all Avalon. A platypus, indeed.
Suspension pieces have been swapped out for easily adjustable remote reservoir struts up front and two-way inverted-mount shocks out back. A 1.25-inch anti-roll bar stiffens up the rear, and Gardner tells us the Avalon TRD Pro can be set up as quite the drifter despite its front-drive roots. Stoptech front brakes and Hawk racing pads all around help limit brake fade and haul the Avalon down from triple-digit speeds.
Lighter suspension components, wheels, and tires plus a custom carbon-fiber hood add up to some serious weight savings. Without modifying the interior and still retaining air conditioning, infotainment, and active safety features, the Avalon TRD Pro is 150 pounds lighter than what you could buy in the showroom.
Speaking of the showroom, any chance any of this will make it to production? Gardner says that if there's enough demand, they could make it happen. He tells us that anything that fits on this car would also fit on the Camry, which means there are more than half a million cars sold every year that could benefit from these parts. Here's hoping there's enough demand.
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