One of the best sports car surprises from this year’s Tokyo Motor Show came not from Mazda, Toyota, or Honda, but Yamaha. The Sports Ride is a car built to drive like a Japanese crotch rocket on four wheels.
Precious little information was given. Most of the attention at the press conference was given to a blue robot that rides a motorcycle (yet another reason to love the Tokyo Motor Show).
With a carbon fiber frame developed by McLaren’s Gordon Murray and a body penned by ex-Toyota designer Akihiro Dezi Nagaya, the Sports Ride is a mid-engined sports car the size of the ND Miata.
Power would likely come from a Yamaha motorcycle engine of some sort, if it is built. True to the Japanese ethos, a massive engine with big power isn’t the point. The difference is made up for in lightness, and the car tips the scales at just 1,653 pounds. It looks like an absolute blast to drive.
Of course, Yamaha is no stranger to building cars. They hand-built the Toyota 2000GT back in 1967 and have engineered many engines for other automakers throughout the years, including the Ford SHO V6 and a slew of twin-cam heads for ToMoCo. In 1992, they even built their own supercar, the OX99-11. Only three were made.
This is one of the best things about the Tokyo Motor Show. You just never know what you’re going to find. Some say Japanese automakers have lost their souls. But the Japanese sports car isn’t dead. There’s still a strong desire from independent shops, old schoolers like Tommykaira and Ken Okyuama, who are in love with the cars that are not crossovers. The Yamaha Sports Ride is very much in this spirit.