When Design Works was acquired by BMW in 1995, it became a full member of the BMW family and was disallowed from working on projects for other automakers. Outside of BMW, the design firm handles non-automotive projects, from personal computers to John Deere tractors. (In fact, John Deere is the outfit’s second biggest client next to BMW itself.) And yet, BMW Design Works is behind the 2020 Supra’s gauge cluster—as in, the Toyota Supra’s instruments.
You could say an exception was made, or that this is yet another a tongue-in-cheek example of the latest Supra being little more than a BMW in disguise. (BMW Design Works, after all, doesn’t work on non-BMW projects . . .) The Supra shares its engine and platform with the BMW Z4 roadster, along with a host of switchgear. And, as we discovered, BMW Design Works handled the Supra’s on-screen menu icons in the infotainment display, the physical cluster itself, and all of its instrumentation and screen graphics, designing them to fit Toyota’s look.
While this isn’t ground-breaking information, Toyota hadn’t previously indicated to us that Supra’s instruments the work of anyone but itself. Design Works, for its part, puts on full display its collaboration with companies like The North Face and John Deere, highlighting those tie-ups on the company’s site. There, the collaboration with Toyota on this particular project goes unmentioned. Why Toyota (or BMW) decided to keep this tiny extra bit of information a secret is a mystery, though it’s hardly scandalous, given how the Supra and Z4 were developed largely alongside one another.
The famous (or infamous, depending on how much you care) collaboration between BMW and Toyota has been very heavily documented. This latest piece to that puzzle merely serves as evidence that the Supra is even less Japanese and even more Bavarian than we originally thought. Those among us less brand-snobby and territorial over their sports car development arenas, meanwhile, will continue appreciating the new Supra’s compelling performance and outsize visual personality, no matter who was responsible for it or which company’s part numbers are stamped into its various components.
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