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Toyota has been building the 2015 Lexus RC F and RC 350 F Sport for 50 years

The new 2015 Lexus RC 350 and RC F should be no surprise to any true fan of the Toyota and Lexus brands. Toyota has been building cars like this since the 1960s.

The Lexus RC 350 and RC F are about to launch in the US. Lexus is currently hosting automotive media at events around the country so that reporters can have first-drives and put out the word on this new coupe. Although Lexus has not had a fixed-roof coupe since the long-departed SC, it has had a coupe in the form of the IS 350C since late 2009 as a 2010 model year car. I own one. As we head to our own media event next week, Torque News thought it might be worth looking back to see where the RC came from.

You didn't think were going to leave you hanging without photos of the RC did you? Here they are!

1967 Toyota 200GT
The year I was born Toyota sold a sport coupe called the 2000GT (photo above). That rear-drive coupe had a double-overhead-cam, 6-cylinder engine (in-line), had 4-wheel disc brakes, all of which were unusual at the time. Truthfully though, not many Americans knew of, or ever owned a Toyota 2000 GT sports coupe.

1970-1985 Toyota Celica
Many Americans did indeed know about the next important Toyota sports coupe. The rear-drive Celica was a volume car for Toyota and spanned many generations. The main story photo is a 1980 model that one of our readers, Briton Jones, photographed at a Toyota dealership this past month. The Celica was a 4-cylinder car, but Toyota went back to the in-line 6-cylinder when the Celica Supra was introduced. I owned a 1979 Celica Supra and can tell you that for its time it was one of the most under-rated GTs for sale in America at that time.

Toyota Corolla AE86
The Corolla AE86 was a rear-drive car that was so legendary it actually inspired one of Toyota’s top engineers to join Toyota. The car was an affordable 4-cylinder car, but it was fun to drive and could be tuned, and modified to be a very quick car.

Toyota Supra
There cannot be a discussion of the new Lexus RC 350 and RCF without first giving homage to the Toyota Supra. As we discussed, it started from humble roots as a modified Celica in the late ‘70s. However, it ended up in the late 1990s as a twin-turbo, in-line 6-cylinder car with over 300 horsepower. Its dimensions were very similar to the new RC. Frankly, the last year Supra would likely blow the doors off the 2015 RC 350 F Sport in any race. That was one reason for its downfall. Toyota realized the cars it was making were moving away from road-going mass-market cars and heading towards track cars with near-supercar capabilities. It did not want to follow that path.

Toyota FR-S (FT86)
Having lost its mojo when the Supra went out of production, Toyota tried to revive the rear-drive coupe with its small FR-S. The car is fun, but not fast. The engine is not special for the times and the cockpit so cramped not many consider it a real GT. It is a low-powered sports car with amazing handling. That is not an insult, just a clarification, that the RC coupe is really a GT, not a sports coupe.

Lexus IS 350C
The Lexus IS 350 C which went on sale as a 2010 model in 2009 survives and has been confirmed for 2015. This is a rear-drive, V6 car with performance to spare. It is a GT car and its hard-top roof folds and stows making it a convertible-coupe. There is no B-pillar, which gives the car a unique, and some would say attractive profile. Here is where the baton is passed to RC. The new RC shares its floor pan and its engine with the IS 350C.

The new Lexus RC 350 and RC F will carry forward a tradition by Toyota and Lexus that has carried us through 5 decades of fantastic GT coupes. Our first-drive reports covering the cars’ performance on road and on track will be published next week.

Related stories:
2015 Lexus RC F has 2 more cylinders and 42 more horses than BMW M4
The new 2015 Lexus RC 350 is not a two-door Lexus IS 350


George Hess (not verified)    September 9, 2014 - 12:47PM

I can't believe that you left out the closest relaqtive in the Toyota family to the Lexus RC-F. The true spititual ancestor to the RC is the Lexus SC300/SC400. Very similar character vehicle and even made and sold as a Lexus (at least in the U.S.)

Robert (not verified)    September 15, 2014 - 5:18PM

"That was one reason for its downfall. Toyota realized the cars it was making were moving away from road-going mass-market cars and heading towards track cars with near-supercar capabilities."

Isn't this evolution to the sedated Camry and Toyota's long struggle back to cars with a soul the real story here?

I know the 2008 economy plays a role, but most people would love a historical account, if one exists, of this Toyota fear of amazing fun to drive machines and how they looped back towards those very cars in the hopes of bolstering it's portfolio.

John Goreham    September 15, 2014 - 7:43PM

In reply to by Robert (not verified)

I too would read that. What seems to happen (just my opinion as a Toyota fan for 30 years) is that every couple generations Toyota has to step the cars back because they start to become too expensive and too divorced from reality (they become overly capable). The last Supra was completely off the hook and would still - today - compete with many very pricey sports cars from BMW and others. So we are now at the end of the arc again, where Toyota/Lexus wants to build some performance vehicles. Let's enjoy them!

Bryan Tran (not verified)    December 26, 2014 - 1:36PM

I own the MKIV Supra, and I actually know alot about the history of that car. And frankly, it has nothing to do with what you said. "Toyota realized the cars it was making were moving away from road-going mass-market cars and heading towards track cars with near-supercar capabilities. It did not want to follow that path."

In fact, the complete opposite, to prove a point, if that was the case why did the Supra still resume production in Japan following 1998, why did the LFA come out? What is the premise of the LFA?

The Supra ended production because of the BMW M3. Simple as that, nobody (at the time) wanted to pay 40 grand in the mid 90s for a Toyota or a Japanese car for that matter. If you think back, the streets were loaded with these boxey looking BMWs that had an m3 badge. Today you'll probably find eight mid 90's BMW M3s for one Toyota Supra MKIV.

This is probably (My own hypothesis) as to why BMW and Toyota are teaming up for the next release, because Toyota probably did not want to create a car that ended up getting axed by BMW again. Think about what I've said, think about what has been doing on, and you'll see that there is alot of truth in what I speak of.

John Goreham    December 26, 2014 - 2:37PM

In reply to by Bryan Tran (not verified)

Bryan, thanks for writing in. You are a great resource for information on the Supra. Don't take my reply as trying to prove myself right, you may have a better picture of the situation. That said, a couple comments; You and I agree on the price being an issue and a cause of the Supra ending. Perhaps the M3 sedan was a reason as well for the exit of the model, but in the US the first gen M3 only sold about 5,000 units total in the US. It did better in Europe, but of course. You (and I) remember seing a lot of those Boxy M3, but they only sold in select markets and truly in tiny numbers. Still do actually. You and I have a keen eye for them, so we note every one we see. - The reason the Supra carried on a while in Japan is because to compete in a certain Japanese racing series 500 needed to be built. -The LFA is a marketing program that makes it possible for Lexus to better position the F Sport models it makes, nothing more. At almost $400K and produced in literally single digits per month it is just a Unicorn. - On the topic of BMW and Toyota possibly making a car, I am half disappointed (in Toyota) and half interested. The new RC F is a very close competitor to the BMW M4 and may outsell it. I cannot imagine why Toyota needs BMW, particularly in the US where Lexus is already pulling ahead in sales and has many more new models to keep that going. BMW does not break out the sales numbers for the 1,2,3,4 series of cars. If it did, it would be too easy for folks like us to see that the Ms and the expensive 335 versions sell in tiny numbers. Most of the 1,2,3,4 series are 228s and trending 220s. Barely a sports sedan (or coupe) by modern measures. Just my biased view :)

Bryan Tran (not verified)    December 26, 2014 - 4:39PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Well BMW still needs help on getting complete output on their motors. If you recall even the current gen M4 is utilizing Mitsubishi Turbos. While I feel that BMW is capable of doing most if not all in house, perhaps letting toyota focus soley on the motor makes things 'easier' for BMW and perhaps easier on Toyota who have often had one hit wonders in the design area. Alot of Toyota designs although appearing at first have not withhold the test of time. A good example would be the MR2 spyder (Porsche Boxter Competitor) which is nearly non-existant today or hard to find. I almost feel as if Toyota has gotten stuck in the family automobile section which even to a point the Lexus as well has filled the Luxury Family void. Where as Nissan has taken over in the Japanese Sports Car era.

Again, most of what I speak of are just observations which are not stats backed up. I appreciate your stats and it's eye-opening to me and makes me re-consider previous observations I had.

Best, Bryan.