Toyota designs the Prius C…for Summer Rayne Oakes





Prius C Meets Its Muse: Summer Rayne Oakes from SUMMER RAYNE OAKES on Vimeo.

This past May I received a surprising call at my office on behalf of Toyota: The designers and engineers had designed a new family of Prius vehicles, and the compact version – the Prius C – had been inspired by my life and work. As it was described over the phone to Jen at my office, the car was created for me…Or really, perhaps more aptly, for a legion of “young, active eco-optimists” that my actions seem to embody, as Paul, the designer, later professed.

The group over at Kscope kindly asked if I would make myself available to meet with the designers and engineers later that month – and if they could film the whole meet-and-greet session and ultimately be one of the first outsiders to see and drive the car…after all they suggested, who better to do the big reveal to – than the muse behind the car. And…they revealed to me when I finally acquiesced…one of the paint colors was named “Summer Rain” (though in it’s “proper” Old English spelling) as a bit of an homage to my life and work.

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The new Toyota Prius C in paint color Summer Rain. When the car releases this month, it’ll be the #1 fuel efficient car on the road.

Admittedly I was flattered. Perhaps I can liken it to the equivalent of a famous musical artist writing a song for a loved one…except this vibrantly-colored tune comes with Hybrid Synergy drive, 15″ spoke alloy wheels, 53 mpg capability, and the ability to access all your favorite apps (e.g., Pandora, Open Table) from the dashboard screen. Listen, it is not often that you get a call from a well-respected car company – and even less often that the designers and engineers go behind your back and create something for you without consulting your opinion.

I later told Jen that I’d love to meet the designers and engineers – but inquired whether they would want to meet the muse behind the vehicle. After all, I don’t really drive. I’ve never owned a car. And my license expired over 7 years ago…

Ahhhh, the irony of it all.

Of course I took the car for a spin. And it was so enjoyable…That is, so enjoyable torturing Paul (the designer) and Graham (the engineer) with my Super Mario Cart driving skills (mind you, when I played Super Mario Cart, I was always in the dirt), that it might just be the reason I start driving again. But in all seriousness – it was a thrill to drive the vehicle. It handled well, drove like a dream, and was a smaller – but still a roomy version – comparaed to the original Prius that we all have come to know and love.

Not only that – but it comes in all these vibrant shades. And the reason why my mouth was hanging so far open when they first did the big reveal was because I was expecting a bluer version (expected them to bring out “Summer Rain” of course) – but instead they brought out the bright orange habanero, which to credit its namesake – is a pretty hot car.

The original colors for the collection were leaked in a Japanese car magazine.
The sleek interior of the Prius C makes the car look super stealth.

Jason Kennedy helped facilitate the whole introduction to the Toyota team. He dropped by my place along with the film crew. I of course, made him pet my giant black African millipede, which he didn’t seem too squeamish about…and we filmed the rest at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens so he could share with me some of the Toyota news…It wasn’t until we got outside of Torrance, CA that I got to meet Paul and Graham, discovered they named a car “Summer Rain,” and got to test drive the handmade vehicle, which was a tremendous amount of fun.

You can view all of the great moments here on video.  And of course get a better sense of how the car handles. (FYI: Graham, a former race car driver, really started to show us how the Prius C could break, turn and accelerate. Thrilling! – to say the least). ♥

Jason Kennedy and I just having a little fun on the Gardens.

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Jason seemed pretty keen to pet my giant black african milipede.


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