Toyota always has been a sensible brand - not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, somebody has to make the automotive equivalent of duty shoes.
Other automakers use sports cars - or at least sporty cars - to tweak the brand image and lure consumers into dealership showrooms. That's because everybody loves sports cars, and they make great halo vehicles. Vroom, vroom!
Toyota has dabbled in "sporty" with cars like the MR2 and Solara, plus the old SR versions of coupes and pickups. But the emphasis for Toyota has always been on quality and practicality.
Toyota's well-heeled sister brand, Lexus, hasn't exactly been wild and crazy either. But four months ago at the Detroit auto show, Lexus showed the prototype of an ultraluxury sports car called the LF-A, which blew everybody away because it might get approved for production.
As a powerhouse in Formula One, you'd think Toyota would want to leverage its racing investment and make it pay off in the showroom.
Brands can change. Look at sensible, old Saturn, which has a jewel of a roadster coming in the Sky.
It's high time for Toyota to change, too, and at least some of the top U.S. execs know it.
They told my colleague Mark Rechtin they're making a case in Japan to get sports cars - or at least more sporty vehicles - to sell in America.
So what will Toyota do? Probably meld its sensible gasoline-electric hybrid technology with a dab of that know-how from the race course.
Oh, that's so Toyota.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at