Peter Anderson | May 21, 2012

Toyota President Akio Toyoda, great-grandson of the company's founder, is very unusual in the Japanese automotive world.

Not only does he like cars, he likes cars that other companies make - and he's happy to share his favourites with us.

Speaking at his inauguration as Chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturer's Association, the outspoken Toyoda-san was quizzed on his preferences among his company's rivals.

From Mitsubishi's line-up, Toyoda skipped the brand's numerous sports models, singling out the Pajero as a favourite.

The Pajero SUV has been on the scene since 1982, and was the first real domestic rival to the Land Cruiser.

From Mazda, Toyoda's favourite is the 1967 Cosmo Sport Roadster, the Japanese marque's first rotary-powered car.

The Alfa-inspired styling and unique engine made the car an instant classic. It also competed in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route, held at the Nurburgring in 1968.

Isuzu, a passenger car brand here through the 60s and early 70s, picked up a mention for its 1963 Bellett.

isuzu bellett

The little Bellett was hugely successful in Japan (and the first Holden Gemini was an Isuzu), and no doubt featured heavily in the product meetings of Akio Toyoda's grandfather.

Honda's NSX was a natural choice from Honda.

For Japanese car enthusiasts, the low-slung coupe was a source of pride; changing the supercar market forever by introducing concepts previously alien to Ferrari and Lamborghini, such as reliability and comfort.

Perhaps the least surprising model on Toyoda's list was the early Nissan Skyline, which spawned the GT-R performance model, a huge success on the road and on the track, and a rival to Toyota's retired Supra line.

Toyoda is the force behind Toyota's new driver focus. Up until recently, the fastest-accelerating Toyota was a LandCruiser V8. The new 86 coupe, and the Lexus LF-A, are part of his grand plan to improve Toyota's image.

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