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by Jay Traugott
If only all automaker CEOs were this passionate about cars.
Some may not be aware that Akio Toyoda is a true gearhead. Not only is he the grandson of the Japanese automaker's founder and the current CEO, but he's a certified race driver and has participated in the 24 of Le Mans twice. He's been adamant about making Toyotas more passionate and exciting and was a main driving force behind both the Lexus LFA and the GT-86. What's also cool about him is the fact he knows how to praise competitors for some of the great cars they've built over the years.
Remember, as a car guy, he knows good stuff and apparently he's not afraid to make public a list of those non-Toyota models. Recently speaking at his inauguration as Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturer's Association, Toyoda announced the following as his favorites. In alphabetical order: the Honda NSX, Isuzu Bellett, Mazda Cosmo, Mitsubishi Pajero (in the U.S. it's the Montero) and the Nissan Skyline. He didn't go into details as to why he chose each one, only stating that each was "memorable."
Without question we understand why he singled out the NSX and the Cosmo (the first regular production car from Japan with a rotary motor). The Pajero is an excellent off-road vehicle while the Bellett was a very successful small car back in the 1960s and early 70s. The Skyline was also a no-brainer. Now that Toyoda is working to move away from its bland reputation, we can hopefully expect to see more good things from them as a true car guy is now calling the shots.