NEWS: Daihatsu’s retro concepts for the Tokyo Motor Show

This year’s Tokyo Motor Show might see the revival of some legendary models — Supra, Z, S2000, Evo — but it might be Daihatsu that takes the cake for the most charming heritage concepts this year. The compact car specialist has revealed a pair of throwback models ahead of the show to mark the company’s 110th anniversary. 

The Daihatsu DN Compagno’s retro intentions are right there in its name. In 1963, the original Compagno went on sale. Back then, Daihatsu was still an independent company; Toyota wouldn’t buy a controlling stake until 1967. The Compagno was a small but bigger-than-kei-sized model made in 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, van, pickup and convertible body styles. Engine sizes ranged from 800 to 1000 cc.

The concept model follows that tradition with a 1.0-liter turbo engine, though Daihatsu says a 1.2-liter hybrid can also be fitted. The sedan’s styling takes cues from the classic Compagno, with an upright rectangular grille inlaid with chrome.

A strong crease running lengthwise down the body from headlight to taillight hints at the original’s lines. The use of silver finish in the pillars and rocker panels recalls the period use of chrome trim.

Inside, the steering wheel references the triple split-spoke of old. Gauges thankfully remain in classic round bezels, but the computer screen display in the center console also has round elements.

Even the door handle references the predecessor’s thin, chrome piece. It’s not an exact likeness, but overall it’s a stylish compact that, if produced, would stand out in a sea of bland modern economy sedans.

The second retro concept is called the DN Pro Cargo. While at first it appears to be a more futuristic kei car in the tall-box idiom, Daihatsu says that it was inspired by the 1959 Midget.

The most obvious similarity is the industrial green color that many Midgets wore at the time. However, the DN Pro Cargo’s cross-eyed headlights and grille-less nose with a badge smack dab in the middle appear to reference the 3-wheeler’s design.

Even the DN Pro Cargo’s wheels, while not a direct reference to the Midget’s, have that 4-way symmetry that was popular at the time and an overall

The interior can be configured a number of ways, as has become expected of a modern kei jidosha. Super wide openings and a low floor make ingress and egress a breeze despite its small footprint, and makes it particularly useful for disabled passengers. Again, it’s not an on-the-nose depiction of the Midget, but there really is no use for a three-wheeled pickup in modern times.

Concepts like these epitomize why the Tokyo Motor Show is the best of the major OEM-attended auto shows. We are now suddenly stoked to visit the Daihatsu booth at the Tokyo Motor Show. Stay tuned for coverage starting October 25.

Images courtesy of Daihatsu.

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6 Responses to NEWS: Daihatsu’s retro concepts for the Tokyo Motor Show

  1. Censport said:

    Daihatsu always has one of the most fun booths to visit.

  2. Jamal said:

    That’s really amazing….perfect van for disability…..
    I love the simplicity on the coupe design.

  3. Randy said:

    Overall, I like ’em! The Compagno has a nice look, and the interior seems quite contemporary. I hate to call a vehicle “cute,” but it is. Would be a nice alternative to the usuals. The Pro Cargo seems ABSOLUTELY practical, as are all those tiny vans – cabs, small business deliveries, mobile office (taking off from the medic equipment above), post office, and on… Took me a moment to notice the “Café” sign; thought it was all for personal consumption. 🙂

    Too bad that even if produced, they’ll never see daylight in the U.S.

  4. Ant said:

    The Compagno has leapt straight onto my list of all-time favourite concept vehicles. Looks stunning inside and out and I dearly hope they produce it. It’s about as close as any brand has got in years to a true interpretation of a classic car – that is, not simply using retro design cues, but incorporating real elegance, delicacy and clean surfaces.

    Can’t wait to see it at the show.

  5. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    A few years back, I bought a new (Gen I) Xb. I bought it for the design. Drove it off the lot with some wheels and TRD springs. Little did I know it would become absolutely the best vehicle to care for my disabled mother. The lowered ride height mimicked the “No-Step” busses in Tokyo. The rear space could hold a wheelchair without collapsing it. It gave great freedom in her final years. I was also amazed how I could fling this box around for a riot of a ride. Her passing was emotional to the point I hurriedly sold off the car. I turned one of my best car decisions into possibly the worst. That little box was arguably the best car I ever got. The Gen II never even crossed my mind after they “tweaked” it into the design grave. My father got a Gen II but it was a disappointment (gas mileage & visibility sucked) until he sold only after a couple of years.

    The DN Pro screams of utility with elegance… It probably has twice the real utility of a Suburban.

  6. daniel said:

    any chance to talk with the head of design of Daihatsu? always goods designs, don’t now if the bigger stake of toyota change the way of their work or maybe collaborate in next toyota cars.

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