In 1965, Toyota came up with the idea that a gas turbine is perfect for a battery-based hybrid system, due to its lightness and compact size.
It took them nearly a decade to build a presentable prototype, but when it was finally time to shine at the 21st Tokyo Motor Show in 1975, the company went all in by using a Century as their first experimental turbine car.
Two years later, Toyota followed up with the Toyota Sports 800 gas turbine hybrid, which had a massive hood scoop, but also 30 horsepower instead of 71, two gears instead of four, and worse fuel economy despite the battery shrinking its trunk.
The situation was dire, to say the least.
Toyota soon came to the conclusion that the development of single-shaft gas turbine technology tested in their cars was too expensive to push forward. Luckily, the R&D division ran a program in parallel with two-shaft turbines powering buses, and so the focus shifted to perfecting that idea.
By the eighties, Toyota's 'Phase II' gas turbine engine got certified for buses, and there were talks of a limited-production sports coupé. The resulting GTV concept was based on the Carina, and was first show at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show.
Two shafts, ceramic components, 68,000RPM reduced by 10.13 for 148 horsepower and 246 lb⋅ft to go through a CVT. Plus air-suspension and all the computers one would expect in the late eighties. From the press brochure, it seemed that Toyota was really onto something with its proposed 'Personal Gran Turismo':
Britain's Car Magazine and were both allowed to test the prototype in 1986. Journalists didn't seem to like Toyota's unrefined CVT gearbox, but Toyota knew about the issues. What the journalists didn't know is that in the long run, the CVT will be the only major component of the car that makes it into mass production.
And once Toyota chose the Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine instead of a gas turbine, we got the 1997 Prius.