Toyota RV-II

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It’s Friday and you’re fed up—tired of the city, tired of work, tired of people. You need some room to breathe but get stuck for a half-hour on the expressway. You decide to get away. You pull the Toyota off at the nearest exit and call ahead for the weather forecast.

An hour later you will be on your way with your lady by your side. Everything you need for a cozy weekend is already packed in the car you’re driving. A dream? It will be reality of Toyota designers have their way.
— Penthouse, 1973

It's not often that Toyota decides to promote its concept cars in Penthouse magazine, but the 70s were a time far removed from commercials featuring Sienna-owning yuppie parents rapping about first world problems.

Ahhh, bare dirt…

Ahhh, bare dirt…

Recreational vehicles have long been a quite fertile a place for innovation, procreation, and marketing, something I alluded to a few weeks ago, saying, "…the Le Car Van is not even the first collaboration between an automaker and a men's magazine."

RV-II was shown at the 1972 Tokyo Auto show as a follow-up to the RV-I, a concept recreational system that included a matching trailer…that included a matching dinghy. Toyota thankfully cut the gimmick train loose and packed the kitsch into a single vehicle.

Sources say that it was based atop either the Toyota Mark II or Crown platform, a reasonable guess considering that it was never going to see production outside of the show circuit. Penthouse says it was powered by a 2563-cc single overhead cam six-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. I can only guess it's related to the 110 horsepower 4M engine with similar specs that was offered until 1980 in the Supra, Cressida, and Crown.

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Of course, that's not what's important. 

What's important is that Toyota wanted to excite the rapidly-expanding RV market, and they felt the best option was to create a transforming wagon. For the Penthouse photo shoot, it even had shag carpet! (And bare breasts. I've run the Penthouse photos online but not in email, 'cause the last thing I want to do is get a subscriber fired for looking at a concept car from 1971. Wouldn't that be bizarre?)

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Like the Izuzu Zen yesterday, the seats fold completely flat and the interior is so transformed into a place to rest, hang out, and sleep.

I wonder if the RV-II would sell today. Or, if you'd buy something like a Scion FR-S with pop-out sides, like a camper. I'd imagine it'd be a nightmare to keep the thing watertight after a number of years.

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I also wonder if someone would be crazy enough to so hack up an FR-S or Veloster for SEMA this year. Hell, trim the interior in scuba fabric and Native American-inspired Penfield blankets.

Even though Toyota didn't end up selling the RV-II, it did end up entering the recreational vehicle market. But that's a story for another day.

Sources / Recommended reading