QotW: What Japanese concept should have been produced?

The Tokyo Motor Show is known across the auto industry for having the most crazed concepts in auto-dom. Future is what Japan does best, but last week Toyota debuted a concept at a toy show to get Japanese kids off their cellphones and back into garages. That’s why this week’s question is:

What Japanese concept should have been produced?

Our pick is the 1985 Nissan MID4. It was Nissan’s answer to Toyota‘s MR2, but armed with a twin-cam, 24-valve V6. Unlike many concepts it seemed production ready and many assumed it’d be the next Fairlady Z. Two years later Nissan came out with the MID4 II concept, adding improved aerodynamics and twin turbos for a VG30DETT putting down 330 horsepower. It probably would have been a Porsche killer, but it was too expensive for what the market would bear.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the winner  from last week’s question, “What’s the coolest vintage barrel?” 

Dankan‘s comment equating Watanabes to the little black dress of wheels rings truer than a Yamaha tuning fork, and Danny almost got two in a row by turning down a ride (hypothetically) with Olivia Wilde for a set of Techno Phantoms, but in the end it was Tofuik who won the week by getting right to the point:

SSR MKI. Because fuck spokes.

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is an MZ11 Toyota Soarer made by Konami, which would be the perfect candidate for a 1/64 SSR MKI swap.

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32 Responses to QotW: What Japanese concept should have been produced?

  1. Tony240Z says:

    Mazda RX-500, showcased to the public at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show. I don’t think there’s ever been a better looking concept car from Japan, plus you can’t go wrong with a Wankel rotary behind your back and a shooting brake body. The sheer lunacy required to put a car like this into production would justify buying it.


    Just think how a typical Christian motorist driving along in his or her Camry or Golf would react to seeing this approaching in the rear view mirror – the shape just screams “MOVE OVER”. Imagine little kids pointing at it and asking “Daddy, is that a Lamborghini?”. If that’s not magic that great cars have then I don’t know what is.

  2. Nakazoto says:

    The Dome Zero. Any car that’s designed entirely with a ruler and pulls design cues from a doorstop should get produced.

    • Aaron says:

      i think you just earned yourself a small toy

    • LTDScott says:

      I had a Tomica toy of one as a kid, and the name on the bottom was “Dome-0,” which I thought was a letter O.

      So until the internet came along, I thought it was a “Dome-Oh.”

    • Kev says:

      Nice. I do wonder what influence it might have had on Japanese cars in the 80s, if it had gone into production. Would the decade of the JDM supercars of the 90s been brought forward 10yrs?

      • Tj says:

        I think, looking at other concepts from the same time, that the Zero outlines the abundance of will but the lack of means at the time.

        Damn shame.

        • Kev says:

          Well, from what I understand, the royalties from the toy makers that made Dome-Zero toy cars were a huge source of income for the company at the time. I had a Tomica Dome Zero 🙂

          So I suppose that while the Zero never made it onto the roads of Japan as a production car, it nevertheless provided inspiration to the next generation of car designers in Japan in a different way 🙂

  3. dankan says:

    Lexus LF-LC. It is basically a much classier take on the LFA’s look. It comes across as the Japanese equivalent of a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe or Bentley Continentall GT. The same “sucking-all-the-oxygen-out-of-the-room” presence. The same clear communication of power. But with a style and character which is completely apart. It’s not classically Japanese in the stereotypically zen way, but instead much more flamboyant, like Momoyama architecture, or shakotan/bosozoku style cars. So, I guess that makes the LF-LC the ultimate bosozoku-sled. Sort of like the Japanese version of a Harvey Earl Cadillac.

  4. Brownie says:

    the Mitsubishi HSR-II. it looks like something out of Ultraman.

  5. cesariojpn says:

    I would’ve gone for the Toyota Century Gas Turbine Hybrid. Because any luxury car needs a very exclusive powerplant to power it.


    BUT, i’m liking the Toyota CAL-1. You could have a convertible, a roadster, or a pickup as situations demanded. Plus it was conceived in the good old USA at Calty. Imagine if Supras or Celicas were able to convert like the CAL-1 today!


    Toyota Tokyo Motor Show 1977 brochure: http://members.iinet.net.au/~stepho/brochures/Tokyo%20Motor%20Show/1977%20brochure/

  6. bert says:

    I am a huge Toyota nut, and believe if they had put some version of their EX series concept cars in production, they would be a very different car company today. However, my vote would have to go to the Isuzu Bellett MX1600. Designed by Tommy Tjaarda (let’s call him Tommy T) it was first shown at the 69 Tokyo Motor Show. It was a sleek mid engine, rear drive, fastback style coupe, that shared the same dohc 1600 I4 as the Bellett GTR. While it probably would not have killed a V12 Lambo off the line, had it been produced, it could have been the benchmark for small lightweight mid- engine semi affordable sports cars such as the Toyota MR2, Porsche 914, Fiat X19, Lotus Espirit, etc. But that never happened. Tommy T would later go to a small company in Italy, and taking some design cues from the Bellet, the DeTomaso Pantera was born. A hugely succesfull, wildly popular, and completely awesome super car that rivaled the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. It was as if Isuzu was saying to the world “Of course we can build sports cars. But we’d rather let you do it!”

  7. j_c says:

    The Mazda Kabura from 2006. If Mazda was as daring as Toyota/Subaru they would’ve beaten them to the light sports coupe market.

  8. s30zgt says:

    Mazda furai. Run it in the next le mans so those who never had a chance to experience the 787b’s win can relive its history.

  9. Manuel says:

    i would like to nominate the Mazda Furia. It is a very beautiful ride and it has big potential. Yea, the average person may never own one, but seeing it on tv racing would’ve been very nice.

  10. JDM Cars says:

    This is very interesting and I wonder why this MID4 wasn’t produced when Nissan released a slew of performance hatches, sedans and coupes during this era? Perhaps it would be as if there was no 180SX/Silvia or no EVO/Impreza?

    • bert says:

      The Mid4 was supposed to be produced and sold as a Ferrari and Porsche rival. It would have beaten the Honda NSX to the market by two years! It also would have been awesome to see the Mid4 up against the Porsche 959 as they had similar technology, but along with the AWD, the Mid4 also had all wheel steering. But after building four cars (of the MK2) and spending a ton of money on advertising, Nissan decided it was too expensive, and chose to take the technology and put it into other cars like the 300ZX, and GTR.

    • Kev says:

      I suppose it if we had Mid-4, we wouldn’t have had the R32 GT-R (which arguably has gone onto become more iconic than the Mid-4 would have been).

      Of course, it would have been nice to have *both* Mid-4 and GT-R, but then they would have competed for the same customers and that doesn’t make good business sense 🙂

  11. Jeff Koch says:

    You can buy lots of Japanese concept cars–Mazda RX500, Nissan MID-4, Dome-0. I’ve got one of each. Of course they’re three-inch diecast, but hey…

    I’ll nominate the rear-engined Datsun 126X, ca. 1971. It was entirely of the doorstop mold in vogue in the early ’70s (I’m looking at you, Alfa Carabo and original Lancia Stratos concept), and was the first Japanese concept car I ever had in scale; a solid yellow Matchbox with orange chassis and a plated engine under the lift-up engine cover, though later I got one with flames that was CAR cooler. Now, I have eight separate castings of this car from companies around the world, most of them terribly rendered.

  12. F3ARED says:

    Slightly newer choice then most but id say the Isuzu 4200R.

    Mid engined, futuristic and packed with tech that has become the hallmark of Japanese manufacturers [it had a fax!] and packing a Lotus-chassis with a 4200 V8. It would have made it a site to see taking on the Europeans with the GTR32 and NSX thats for sure.

  13. GEN2TWINCAM says:

    MAZDA RX-500 Hands Down because it looked cooler than a Captain Scarlet vehicle.

    Or the Honda Fuyo-Jo because it looked like a damned Dalek. EXTERMINATE!

  14. Peter Maley says:

    Nissan should manufacture Steve Eastwoods design of a modern Nissan 510 SSS. It can be found here. Hey Nissan; it’s not too late! Let’s not forget the latest Toybaru FR-S……


  15. john says:

    Wow, some really great answers for this one… Keep it coming! 🙂

  16. Tofuik says:

    As a lover of all things square and brown. I’m so damn excited about this prize.

  17. B-san says:

    I would love to own and drive a ALS RS01 someday… If I ever win the lotery I want to set up my own workshop and start producing them in a minimal amount of numbers… ^^ (I think it will stay at daydreaming though). But just inmagine… A car that weights only 680kg powerend by a RB26DETT that pulls out way over 550BHP in combination with Nissans ALTESSA 4WD-system. Thats like Supercharged Ariel Atom-range! And besides that I this it looks GORGIOUS! http://www.damnjdm.com/apps/blog/entries/show/12654144-the-asl-rs01-with-help-from-tommy-kaira

    Although I also think the Dome Zero deserves a spot.

  18. DorKaz says:

    The Mazda Cosmo 21, imagine a old School looking car, the miata chassis and a rotary engine all in one pack.


  19. Uncia says:

    2004 Toyota Alessandro Volta

  20. ACSK says:

    Suzuki GSX-R/4. I know it’s a fairly recent prototype, but I always liked the idea of a Hayabusa powered car from the factory… even if I’m not big on roadsters.

  21. Greg Laycock says:

    I had always hoped Mazda would produce a true hardtop Miata. The early Miatas are still my favorites, and a hardtop would only make them better in my book.


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