This is Part 2 of a 3-part series where, in each installment we will share some of those different Japanese concepts.
By the late 60s and into the 70s, there was a lot more conceptualization happening from Japanese manufacturers, especially Toyota and Nissan. They started t appreciate the value the concept cars could have in terms of appearing more aware of what the western markets wanted. Sometimes they got it right, and many time they got it wrong. Oh, so very wrong. So with that in mind, below are a range of Japanese concepts ranging from 1969 through 1977. Enjoy.
The 1969 Isuzu Bellett concept
Isuzu presented the Isuzu Bellett MX1600 concept at the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show. Designed by Tom Tjaarda, the same designer that penned the De Tomaso Pantera, it was a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive 2-seater. Apart from sharing the 1.6 liter engine with their GT-R model, the MX1600 had little to do with any production Bellett, and it never materialized into anything after the show.
The 1969 Toyota EX-I concept
The EX-I was 1 of 3 cars Toyota brought to the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show. It was designed to show how Japan's new highways could be used. It was a 2-seater concept sports car, with styling emphasis on aerodynamics. A roof mounted spoiler was raised and lowered electrically to increase stability at high speed. The interior was designed with a wrap around console so that all switches were within easy reach of the driver. Twin exhausts and hood scoops implied an engine larger than normally used on Japanese cars.
The 1969 Toyota EX-II concept
The EX-II was a 2-seater, fully enclosed electric runabout. likely meant to contrast the EX-1 - perhaps showing Toyota’s range.
The 1969 Toyota EX-III concept
The last of the EX cars shown at the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show, the EX-III was the big brother of the EX-I. The larger body was even more aerodynamic, built very low with a pointed front (no bumper), a long hood, sloped sides and a tapered rear. Large exhaust outlets hinted at a gas turbine engine but no details were given.
The 1970 Mazda RX-500 concept
First shown to the public at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, the RX-500 is a two-door sports car, accessed by forward-swinging butterfly-wing doors.
The RX-500 was promoted as a mobile test bed for road safety, similar to the Mercedes C111 platform covered here. The RX-500 included multi-coloured lights at the rear which indicated whether the car was speeding up, braking or cruising.
The car weighed under 1900 pounds, and was powered by a 491cc Wankel engine that was mounted forward of the rear axles, producing 247 hp, and was accessed via gulling doors, like a Mangusta.
The 1970 Nissan 126X concept
The 126x had a wedge shaped design with a forward-tilting cockpit canopy. The slots along the center of the hood housed red, yellow, and green lights, which lit up in accordance to what the vehicle was doing, just like the Mazda RX-500 concept. The 126X featured a rear-mounted 3-litre 6 cylinder power plant and 4-wheel drive.
The 1970Nissan 270X concept
The 270x concept was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1970. The aggressive style was a promise the drivetrain couldn’t keep. The base mechanicals were from the Nissan E10 Cherry. The Cherry's 1171cc motor was transverse mounted into a FWD design.
The 1971 Nissan 216X concept
The 216x utilized a transverse-mounted 2-litre 4-cylinder power plant. While in motion, the bumpers were designed to extend automatically by just under 6 inches. The roof-bulge housed what was essentially a rear-view periscope. The 216x is known as Nissans experimental safety car.
The 1971 Toyota SV-1 concept
Look familiar? Shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1971, the SV-1 was the prototype for the Celica liftback released in April 1973. This was originally built in May 1971 as a Celica TA22 GT coupe. The mechanicals of the TA22 GT were retained (1600cc 2T-G twincam engine).
The SV-1 rear hatch glass was a bit larger than the production version. The grill was an ST type - just like all 1973-1975 production liftbacks (even the GT models). Dual exhaust tips exited out the rear, whereas production Celicas had a single exhaust tip).
The 1972 Toyota EX-7 concept
The EX-7 was a new 2-seat concept car made by Toyota for the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show. It was built to see what a supercar based on the Toyota 7 might be
The mid mounted 5 liter engine was similar to the Toyota 7 engine except that EX-7 did not have turbochargers. The Toyota 7 had 800 bhp (600 kW) but the EX-7 was detuned down to 425 hp for road use. Transmission was a manual transaxle. Double wishbone independent suspension and vented disc brakes were used on all corners.
The body shape was similar to other exotic dream cars of the time, with a long flat nose blended into a long windscreen and a high rear with a harsh cutoff. The doors were shaped like a typical gull-wing door but where they differed was the hinge was at the rear of the roof section of the door. Each door opened to the rear.
The 1972 Toyota RV-2 concept
The RV-2 was a 2-door wagon concept car shown at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show.
Styling was typical for the period, with sharp edges and large rectangular headlights. The front bumper covered only the corners, allowing the grill to be much more prominent than normal. The roof line terminated behind the large door on each side. Above the rear waistline were a pair of side hinged clam shell doors covering the entire rear section. An integrated roll bar terminated the body work and also formed a surface for the clam shell doors to seal. When the doors were raised you could stretch a tent between them. Two adults could sleep in the tent section and another two adults could sleep on the front seats, which could fold down flat. The rear section included a full width tail gate with a wind-down window nestled under the rear roll bar.
A fully working prototype was shown at the Tokyo Motor Show and reviewed in the August 1973 issue of Penthouse magazine. Toyota also printed a large number of brochures for the US market in order to gauge the market. It was generally well received but apparently not enough to put it into production.
The 1973 Nissan EV Truck concept
Nissan took another stab at an electric vehicle to better evaluate the technology for future use.
The 1973 Toyota F101 concept
The Toyota F101 wagon-type sedan utilized asymmetric gull-wing luggage doors. It was promoted as "the sedan of the future." With only 97 horsepower, the F101 used the same 2-liter engine found in the 1974 Corona. The prototype featured four-wheel disc brakes and a fully independent suspension.
The 1975 Nissan AD-1 concept
Unveiled at the 1975 Tokyo Motor Show, the Nissan AD-1 Concept featured mid-engined styling with a cantilever roof design. The "AD" stood for Advanced Design. Uniquely styled, the AD-1 was an aerodynamic compact two-seat coupe with a mid-mounted transverse engine. The AD-1 was very similar in layout to the Toyota MR2, introduced nearly nine years later.
The AD-1 had a drag coefficient of only 0.26 Cd, and was constructed with the help of wind tunnel research. The AD-1 featured a 1650 pound curb weight, and a 1.4 liter overhead valve inline 4.
The 1977 Toyota CAL-1 concept
Shown at the 1977 Tokyo Motor Show and the 1978 Chicago Auto Show, the CAL-1 was based on the prototype Supra.
The CAL-1, Supra and the new generation of Celica were all designed at Calty, Toyota's California design studio. Even though the CAL-1 was designed in California, it was right hand drive and had Japanese front mounted mirrors.
The rear deck opened into a pair of rear seats and the rear window opened into a wind deflector for the rear passengers. It could even be configured into a pickup.
The 1977 Nissan AD-2 concept
A design study for the ultimate 6-passenger luxury sedan, the AD-2 featured a L28E 2.8-liter EFI inline-6 with a 4-link rear from a Nissan Laurel. The body had ultra-thin pillars, flared body panels, an airdam, and a rear wraparound window for increased visibility. It still had fender mirrors, but they were integrated into the body work of the front wings.