In 1990, one of the highlights of the 28th Tokyo Motor Show was a swoopy, low-slung supercar called the Jiotto Caspita. Made by the Dome company, it was one of many hypercar concepts in the late 80s which never came to fruition.
One of the constants of the car scene in the late 80s and early 90s was the proliferation of extremely high-priced, ultra high performance supercars. Many made it into production (if only briefly) like the Bugatti EB110, the Cizeta V16, the Jag XJ220 and of course the daddy of them all, the McLaren F1.
But for every car that did make it into production, there were seemingly ten concepts that never went anywhere. A couple of them were JDM….one was the Yamaha OX-99 (which we’ll cover at some point) and the other was the Jiotta Caspita.
It caused a sensation when it appeared at the 1990 Tokyo Motor Show, at the centre of the Subaru stand (I’ll explain in a sec). The project was really backed by the huge JDM underwear manufacturer Wacoal, but the venture was given the name Jiotto instead. Well…..you can’t exactly make a supercar and then name it after a maker of ladies bras, now can you.
The Caspita was to be made by racing car manufacturers Dome. In the 80s, Dome was a manufacturer of Le Mans endurance racers, having partnered Toyota in Group C for most of the decade. And so Dome would have had no shortage of experience with mid engined, low slung hyper-powered cars. And mechanically the prototype was credible, too with a carbon monocoque, and pushrod actuated double wishbones all round, which had ride-height-adjustable hydraulics to raise the car for speed humps and down to a 70mm slam for high speed work.
Trans was a 6spd, made by McLaren F1 suppliers Traction Products, and weighing only 1100kg, the Caspita was to be powered by a 3.5L 450ps boxer-12 Motori Moderni detuned Formula One engine. This engine was badged as Subaru for the ill-fated Coloni F1 team in the early 90s (which mostly failed to qualify for most of its races), hence the appearance of the Caspita at the Scooby stand at the motor show.
Later, the specifications were changed to the more commonly-available 3.5L Judd V10, still an ex-F1 engine but this time with a full 570ps at 10,500rpm for a claimed 0-100 time of 3.3s and a top speed of 350kmh.
But alas it was not to be. The world economy teetered into recession, in Japan the bubble economy burst and the whole country ran into an fiscal brick wall for almost a whole decade. And along with many other promising supercar concepts, the Caspita project was canned in 1993.
It was an ambitious attempt at building an F1 car for the road, and it’s such a shame that a beautiful car like this never made it into production (if it did, second hand examples might be just vaguely affordable right about now…).
The sole remaining prototypes live at the Dome museum in Japan.