By Andrew Ganz
Friday, May 18th, 2012 @ 10:06 am
 
Akio Toyoda's car enthusiast credentials are hardly in question, but the jovial CEO of the company that bears an anglicized version of his family name further revealed his "car guy" persona earlier this week when he named a handful of domestic competitors' products that he says are especially "memorable."

The list ranged the gamut, including sports cars like the Nissan Skyline and Honda (Acura) NSX to the classic Mazda Cosmo Sport, the rugged Mitsubishi Pajero (sold in North America as the Montero) and the dainty but sporty Izusu Bellett. (Examples of Toyoda's favorite cars are pictured in order above).

The Skyline is one of Japan's most historic nameplates and its lineage can be traced forward to both today's Nissan GT-R and Infiniti G line. Honda's NSX was a sleek, mid-engined sports car produced for about 15 years between 1990 and 2005. The nameplate is set to be revived for an advanced hybrid Acura NSX sports car in a couple of years.

The Pajero, meanwhile, is a rugged off roader that, along with the Isuzu Trooper, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser, came of age in the 1990s. The Pajero was sold here as the Montero until a few years ago, although it is still offered in most global markets.

While several Cosmo Sports were produced by Mazda, the best-known was the shapely first generation built beginning in 1967. Boasting the first two-rotor rotary engine to go into a production car, it was as notable for its style as it was its technology.

Finally, the Bellett was the first Japanese car to ever offer a GT badge. Inspired in part by cars like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Bellett was offered in a wide range of boxy but sport-oriented bodystyles.

Toyoda named off the vehicles during a Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association meeting yesterday, according to Automotive News.

Perhaps best known - at least so far - for pushing the rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT 86 into production, Toyoda is an unabashed car enthusiast who has publicly stated that one of his goals is to inject more passion into a generally staid lineup. Confirmed to the top position at Toyota in 2009, shortly before the automaker announced its massive unintended acceleration-related recalls, Toyoda is the great grandson of the company's pre-automotive founder.

Toyoda's brief list is remarkable in part because executives rarely comment on products - even those produced decades ago - by rivals. Notably, the list included vehicles from all of Japan's large automakers aside from Suzuki (and Subaru, although Toyota owns a 17 percent stake in Subaru).