Oooh, look at this car! Wasn't she look cute? Anyway, today's Review is talking about this, the first ever T-Top car, in the wuuuuurrrllddd...
Exterior and History
Hey. So this review is going to focus on Toyota's very first sports car, which appeared long before the MR2, long before the Supra, but just a couple years before the infamous 2000GT. But I want to first address something else that's been on my mind. Something I've brought up to many of my friends. Kids...and learning. Kids, and their ability to concentrate and learn in today's world. I promise this discourse will eventually relate to the Toyota that's the focus of this review.
Today's kids have it tough in my opinion, tough in school, that is. By "kids", I actually mean "18 or under", but what I'm going to talk about could certainly apply to many adults as well.
I've often said to my friends I couldn't imagine having to deal with school in today's world. If I were to start my education in today's world, I'd be a total screw-up. I'm looking at what's available to kids nowadays. They've got their cell phones, they've got the internet, they've got computers...and of course, many videogames nowadays can easily take months (if not years) to finish. Some of them can never truely be finished. Elder Scrolls is an example. So is Little Big Planet.
Bottom line: I am absolutely sure if I were to grow up in today's world, the distractions would be disastrous to my education. I can't imagine how kids today get anything done! Partially, I'm saying this in a humorous manner, but I'm also partially serious.
Well, to those of you who aren't 40 years old or possibly older, what was it like when I was a kid? Was their any technology back in the seventies which could have screwed up a child's future? Certianly there was, but for the most part it wasn't portable (like many of today's gadgets are), and thank GOD for that! Anyways, what we had back in those days was color television. We also had the usual assortment of toys, Legos, models, but to some extent any generation of kids going back to ancient Sumerian times had some sort of toys. Color television, on the other hand, was something no kid had ever seen until recent years. Its ability to totally SUCK YOU IN and destroy your young mind was unfathomable.
Color television wasn't necessarily new in the early 1970s, but it was not yet completely common, either. My parents had a color television in the family room, but a black & white TV for their personal room. Black & whites were just as common as color TVs. Amazing, right? Imagine that! Imagine all the spoiled brats of today complaining if they couldn't get a color Blackberry or iPad!
Back in those days, things were no different. If you grew up in a house in which your folks only had a black & white, you'd envy your friends and neighbors who had color sets. Having a TV was just as huge a distraction as computers, cell phones, and other such gadgets are nowadays. But back in the '70s, at least our parents could limit our time with televisions. "Get your homework started, TV off!" was something I heard quite often as a kid. I couldn't sneak an entire television into my room then as I did my homework, as some kid today could easily sneak a PSP.
Back when i was a kid, despite having a Playstation 1, I had a bit of discipline with homework. Nobody had to tell me to get it started, I usually did this on my own. I loved gaming, but I also made Bs and Cs in school, with an occasional A or a D. I didn't fail my way thru school due to all of today's distractions, see what I mean? I imagine nowadays, a kid who is grounded (no gadgets until your grades rise, young man!) can still manage to sneak a portable cell phone or a Nintendo DS for entertainment from one of his or her friends. I would have never survived early schooling with all these distractions, and would have wound up a total dumbass!
Speaking of distractions: Man, it's funny how this car review hasn't gotten started yet, and already it's way off-topic! :-< Oops.
Beck then, my favorite adult show of the time would have been Get Smart!, which was about these goofy secret agents attempting to combat crime. In the opening to the show, the star (Maxwell Smart) would be seen driving a red convertible to headquarters. Much later in life, I would learn this red car was a Sunbeam Tiger.
The Sunbeam was a tiny, British sports car that I really wish was in Gran Turismo. It was about the size of the Toyota Sports 800 that I'm finally starting to get to as this deplorable GT car review finally gets to its shaky start. Actually, I think the Toyota may be smaller than the Sunbeam. The Toyota Sports 800 is a pretty tiny automobile, see. It is also very low-slung, like a capsule on wheels. I know the Sunbeam doesn't exactly look like the Toyota, but I can't help think of Get Smart! when I drive the Toyota. They're both stylish, small 2-seater roadsters. The Toyota has a removable aluminum targa top, though. I'm pretty sure the Sunbeam, in contrast, had an old-fashioned roll-down convertible top instead.
The Sports 800 was created to compete against Honda's miniature S line of sports cars (S600, S800, et cetera). The 800 appeared most prominently during GT4's 1,000 Miles! events, though it was never a force to reckoned with since it was so slow. I'm seeing the Sports 800 again during GT5's Japanese Classics races. Again, it is rarely a threat...often falls far behind the Dome, Mazda Cosmos, and Z cars during these races. In GT4, this car can be bought at any time from Toyota's Classic lot section, but in GT5 it only appears in the used car lot, which means it is rather uncommon.
I assumed upon driving the Sports 800 that I'd be able to eventually do plenty of damage in the Beginner's Hall of GT5, and I was right for sure, although at first things really are looking grim....
Engine and Drivetrain
Yeah. Grim. That's the word. Grim. 43 or 44 horsepower grim (39 before oil change!). This car may look sporty, but wow...it is weak! During the Sport 800's day, I understand Japan's road system was still largely in construction, even 20 years after WWII ended, so that weakling cars may have actually have been desirable because they were simply safer on some of these fledgling roads, but still....43??
The car I found in GT5's used lot also had an amazing 248,768 miles on its odometer when I bought it! Good grief. It's a flat-arranged 2 cylinder powerplant, air cooled at that! Despite its small size (790 cc), it doesn't generate very many revs either, as some modern kei cars manage. Our redline starts at just 5,500!
It's amazing this car could possibly have a racing career at all, but it certainly can if you're willing to spend some credits. Lots of credits = not that much extra power, but truth is this car doesn't really need that much power to succeed since it's so light.
In either game, power rates somewhere around 120 hp. GT4 gives us three NA kits or two turbos, while GT5 includes three of each (NA and turbos). The transmission is a rather short 4-speed manual box. It feels much taller than it is, of course, since power rates so low, but this is actually a short box. This is evident in the fact that in either game (GT4 or GT5) that the Sports 800 appears in, it cannot get to 100 mph.
Chassis And Handling
Driving around in this game in this car can be a blast, assuming you don't mind there's not much pick-up down those straights! In corners, the Sports 800 features some rather weak braking action matched with steering that feels perfectly vague. Sometimes, it grabs on entry, other times it'll understeer lightly.
Understeer in this car, thankfully, is always light. You'll probably have more concern getting the Sports 800 pointed in the direction you need to go...its back-end tends to mildly throw the entire car into slightly odd angles whether or not too much speed has been carried. During low-speed corners, this is usually not a problem. For higher-speed situations, it can start to feel like you're trying to dance left while your partner is wanting to take a right at times. Tracks like Nurburgring take almost as much concentration to pilot in a Sports 800 than they would in a Shelby Cobra, even though the 800 is much, much slower.
Over bumps, the Sports 800 also predictably gets skittish. But at all times, I find this car easy to deal with in this game. Things never feel secure, but they also don't feel as if they have to be 100% secure all the time.
The Sports 800 in this game pretty much shares a lot of the traits of the Sports 800 as it appeared in GT4, but there are a few differences. Let's talk about what's similar first, though.
There's the soapy braking to start. The Sports 800's brakes in GT5 aren't strong, but the good news is they rarely lock up because of this, even with ABS off (brake balancer must also be off, too). But start early with those brakes because distances will still be long. This car had all drum brakes, front and rear; many cars of the '60s did.
There's also the mild understeeer from GT4. It's still with us. It's so mild, it's hardly ever noticed. That's actually good news. Bad driving can often be corrected in this car, even on radial ("comfort") tires. Helps that the Sports 800 is also so tiny. When it does happen to understeer (usually mid to late-corner), it can often take up as much cornering path as you'll need anyways, and there will still be some safety zone. There may be some moments when understeer becomes more of a concern, but it's usually when the driver screws up and brakes way too late or something.
Finally, there's the vague steering and oversteerish nature. Actually, oversteer is much more of a dilemma in GT5 than it is in GT4, even if the car in GT4 is driven on N-quality tires. The Sports 800 has a constant habit of getting loose in turns. Enter a turn a little too hot, and often the rear will easily start to step out. This can be easily used to advantage by us pros, but inexperienced drivers may be at a loss. A slight twitch on entry can change the car's entire orbit throughout the rest of the turn. It's easily done and addictively fun if you know what you're doing.
All cars in GT5 have a bit of positive rear toe (+0.20 to be exact) for whatever Godly reason, and I have heard PD did this to make sure oversteer is more of a factor in GT5. But even when installing a full-custom suspension, dialing toe away, but making all other settings mild (minimal springs, dampers, and stabilizers with no camber) the Toyota Sports 800 has a habit of getting loose in the rear. It's fun! Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, but it also makes the Sports 800 difficult at times. This is not a beginner's car, despite its slowness.
So to summarize, Toyota is known today for their trustworthy, conservative line of cars & trucks, and in the mid 1960s this was no different. Toyota are a bread & butter company first, with sports cars a secondary venture. So here's a rare look at their earliest attempt at trying to be something other than a mass-producing manufacturer appeasing the masses. Trying to have a bit of fun. And so shall you have a bit of fun, assuming you don't mind (also) a long possible wait down those straights to have such fun.
Let's have some Pros & Cons.
1). Definitely a classic worth checking out if you're into small 2-seater sports cars.
2). Not too pricey in GT5. GT5's used car prices are sometimes half as cheap as GT4's.
3). Can finish up a good number of races in GT5's Beginner's hall. GT4, too, although to take the Sports 800 out of the Beginner's hall means to put it up against grids that only feature weaker cars.
4). Unique looks & appearance.
5). 1,278 pounds at the heaviest.
6). Fun, somewhat slippery handling traits that include minimal understeer yet controllable oversteer in either game the Sports 800 appears in.
1). I got one cylinder...hey I got two cylinders! How about that? Always a slowpoke, this one is.
2). Yes there are engine upgrades, including turbos, yet they won't top much over 100 hp.
3). Stock 4-speed can't even eke 100 mph! Funny thing is, it does seem as though the Sports 800 could get over 100 if its gearing were just a little taller, or if it had a 5-speed.
4). Pro # 6 above = Con #4 here for those who won't be able to get this car constantly situated where it needs to be in and out of turns.
5). Prone to getting tossed about by bumps, curbs, and other cars.
6). Pricey in GT4, considering just 44 horses are to be had for all this money. Rare in GT5's used car lot.
7). Long braking distances.