We’ve talked enough about retro themed cars at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, so here are some actual vintage cars from the event. Makuhari Messe has two main halls, where Japan’s automakers reveal to the world their next supercars and latest motorcycles.
But away from the glitz there’s a quiet arena that showcases the history of the Tokyo Motor Show itself. That means a selection of interesting vehicles that once occupied slowly rotating pedestals, like this Mazda RX-500.
This radical concept was first unwrapped at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, a mid-engined rotary mating a 250hp 10A from a Familia race car and the front-wheel-drive’s RX-87 Luce transaxles. Kev has written about the RX-500 in great detail, so be sure to get the skinny from him.
If you take nothing else away from this car, know that the brake lights would light up progressively depending on how hard you hit the skids. Notable production cars from this year included the Mitsubishi Galant GTO MR and venerable JNCer favorite, the A20 Toyota Celica. The show’s theme was, vaguely, “Better Tomorrow for Man and Car.”
You may have noticed the Honda Accord CVCC hatchback lurking behind the Mazda. Well, this closeup was the only photo we could find. The Tokyo Motor Show switched to a biennial schedule after 1973 as a result of the Oil Crisis, so the Accord was probably first shown in 1975 or so.
Like the CVCC, every automaker had their own strategies to cope with the fuel shortage. Toyota showed a gas turbine Century, Nissan a steam powered Cedric, and Mazda debuted the RX-5 Cosmo AP with the Rotary Engine Anti-Pollution System (REAPS). Another nebulous theme followed: “Vehicles, Life and Us.”
Still reeling from the petrol pinch, Toyota trotted out its first hybrid in 1977. This may look like a Toyota Sports 800 with a weird hood scoop, but it had a gas turbine motor linked up in series to an electric motor.
Oddly, the car in the original photos doesn’t have the scoop and wears black fender mirrors. It’s probably been kicking around Toyota’s warehouses long enough to garner a few changes through the decades. We’ve written about this car before as well.
That year, automakers were still scrambling over each other to release small cars into a fuel-hungry market. The Mitsubishi Mirage was one of the most anticipated, displayed under the theme “Everybody’s Car, Everybody’s World.”
Back at the main hall, the Suzuki exhibit had a 1979 Suzuki Alto next to the latest and greatest iteration. These cars are 30 years and six generations (the current being the 7th) apart. The theme for 2009 is “Fun Driving for Us, Eco Driving for Earth.” Finally, an actual theme that makes sense!
And unless an automaker announces the resurrection of another crazed supercar, that about wraps it up for TMS news.
[Images: Edmunds, Tokyo Scooter Stuff’s Flicker Stream, Car Watch]
That RX-500 is wicked! (I can say that, I was born in Boston). What’s amazing is that its shape has held up so well over the years. Slap on some projector beam headlights, LED taillights, and a snazzy interior, and that thing could almost pass for a present day concept car!
If that RX-500 had a Ghia, Michelotti, Bertone, Pininfarina, Frua or some other Italian design house badge on it, car scribes around the world would have been falling all over themselves to c** on it first. Instead, it’s all but forgotten. But Dan’s right. It still looks as amazing today as it did 39 years ago.
That Sports 800 hybrid is fascinating. (Just read the linked article) But why did they use a 10 year old car as the basis? I mean, I love the Sports 800, it’s a beautiful car. It just seems odd to use it for a concept in 1977.
I love the RX-500! 🙂
Now if they only would have put it in the 21st century by putting in the hydrogen Wankel engine! 😉
I found some pictures some time ago of the S800 Hybrid:
It is the same car as at the TMS 2009. But that doesn’t say anything about the history of its modifications…
They probably used the Sports800 cause it was already available, and at the time they were trying to show off the recent technology, while keeping costs down. If the car had actually made it into production, they might have wrapped it in a different body. (maybe!)
Very well said, Bert. At least it was immortalized in a Matchbox car!