Toyota WiLL Vi: Have you ever heard of it?

WiLL Vi

We would not be surprised if you have never heard of the Toyota WiLL Vi. Though distinctively styled, this four-door saloon was produced for only two years on a low-volume schedule. It was also only available in Japan. And as if to try and guarantee its international invisibility, you cannot find a Toyota logo anywhere on the exterior or interior.

WiLL Vi

It arrived in January 2000 as the result of a joint marketing project between a handful of leading Japanese companies, Toyota being the only vehicle manufacturer among them. The aim of this diverse group was to create a wide range of WiLL-branded products that appealed to the individuality and preferences of millennials as the new generation of consumers.

The WiLL Vi (pronounced ‘vee-eye’) was Toyota’s opening contribution to this collection and it communicated the WiLL brand’s hallmark qualities of fun and authenticity by combining fashionable, neo-retro styling with up-to-the-minute driving performance.

WiLL Vi

Its symmetrical design was full of converging planes and expressive angles, with distinctive corrugations along the sides and a reverse-angle rear window that created a silhouette officially described as ‘reminiscent of the horse-drawn carriages of yesteryear.’ The front and rear were almost identical in appearance and shaped to form a friendly face, while the blistered arches and 15-inch wheels gave the design a strong feeling of stability.

WiLL Vi

The Toyota WiLL Vi delivered on that promise, too, with responsive performance underpinned by a platform and powertrain taken directly from the first-generation Toyota Vitz (Yaris), which had just scooped the honour of Japanese Car of the Year. It adopted the supermini’s more powerful 88PS 2NZ-FE 1.3-litre 16v engine, paired with a four-speed automatic gearbox – a combination that achieved class-leading fuel economy at the time.

In that regard, the model’s environmental qualities were particularly highlighted to its target demographic. Highly recyclable Toyota Super Olefin Polymer was adopted for the bumpers and interior plastics, and the sound deadening was made using shredded materials from end-of-life vehicles. All use of lead was also deleted from the production of the radiator, heater core and wiring loom.

WiLL Vi

Moving inside, the quirky WiLL Vi was presented with a range of rounded shapes, rich textures and autumnal tones. It created a relaxing atmosphere that was supposed to feel more like being at home than in an automobile. In that regard, bench seats were fitted front and rear to generate the sense of sitting on a living room sofa, which necessitated the use of a column-mounted gear shift. Storage opportunities were liberally dotted around the cabin to convey a user-friendly feel. Similarly, the main control panel was a simple, intuitive design and the instruments were centralised to minimise visual refocusing.

WiLL Vi

Production of the Toyota WiLL Vi concluded in December 2001 after some 16,000 units had been sold. However, during the same two-year period, Toyota produced more than 697,000 examples of the regular Vitz in Japan. So the WiLL Vi was a rarity even when new, and 20 years down the line has become something of a unicorn, especially in the UK where just 21 imported examples are currently registered with the DVLA.

WiLL Vi

The lavender example pictured here is one of those UK-registered cars and it is being offered for sale by auction through Car & Classic. Offered with no reserve price, this could be your opportunity to get hold of one of the most distinctive – yet mechanically conventional – Toyota models of recent history.

35 comments

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment.
      The recommended fuel for your vehicle should be displayed either in the owner’s manual or inside the fuel cap.
      As this is not a UK vehicle, we do not hold this information.
      Thanks.

  1. We originally imported and supplied the very same car featured in this article. In Japan they use low octane fuel so 95 octane unleaded is perfectly good for this car with 5w30 engine oil.

  2. Saw one of these weird but wonderful vehicles at the Ryde Classic Car Show on the Isle of Wight yesterday. Until then, I was totally unaware of their existence. Have to say, I was mightily impressed.

    1. I’m guessing that it was a silver hard top? We sold such a car to a guy who was intending to drive it to the Isle of Wight show in 2021. We’ve seen him since in 3 other car shows, all in the Cotswolds, and most recently around 4 months ago.

      The car in question, if its the same one, had stood undriven outside for many years in Japan before we bought it, possibly over a decade. It even had moss growing on it, perished tyres, the deadest dead battery ever, wiper rubbers perished……

      It’s a testament to Toyota reliability that after a service, new battery, tyres, wipers the car sprang to life as if it had been driven yesterday.

      These are rare and unusual cars. The car in question was headed to the scrap heap in Japan but ended up on the classic car circuit in England where it remains to this day.

  3. We’ve got a William, with Mazda alloys to confuse everyone! Currently off the road. Made 230k so far, and it’s just an iac fault stopping it from moving. Most comfortable and smoothest ride ever, so soon as that engine packs up we’ll be sourcing another 2NZ-FE for a transplant.

  4. I am going to purchase a Toyota will vi .could anyone tell me are they a good car ,I am finding it hard to get it insuranced.Anyone know a insurance company.

    1. Absolety fantastic car. Try Direct Line, that’s who we used before going SORN. Body parts can be tricky to find if you were to get in an accident but it’s pretty much a Yaris underneath, once mechanics know that they are happy to deal with servicing, MOTs, and repairs.

      1. Spotted you yesterday going into Brighton. Such an impressive car that I had to look it up by the number plate!

      2. Aha! I remember that black car. We imported it. When I drove it home from Bristol Port on trade plates I remember thinking what a good example it was. If I recall correctly, you came over to the wasting wilds of Worcestershire to collect it, or someone came on your behalf.

  5. Just seen one of these parked in the car park at the Ibis hotel in Preston. Black with red stripes along the lower part of the sides. Must be a “personal” registration number as it is on a British 1986/87 C plate. Very unusual and eye catching.

  6. Is there I Will owners club at all, I have a white Will Vi and would love to connect with other owners

    1. Hi Clare,
      Unfortunately, we do not know of any WiLL Vi owners clubs.
      We wish you the best of luck in your search.
      Thanks.

    2. We are in Beds, Clare 😊 W*** YBN – insured through Lancaster as, a classic car, incase anyone is interested 😊

  7. Just seen a silver one in Chipping Ongar, Essex. I have never seen one before so had to Google it and hence found this article. Interesting little car.

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