Once upon a time (in the early ’90s), Japan made some of the world’s best sports cars. At that time, the island nation experienced an economic boom that pushed manufacturers to build impressive performance machines like the third-generation RX-7 and the Honda NSX. Even decades before, Japanese manufacturers had enough bravado to put European sports cars to shame with machines like the Datsun 240Z and Toyota 2000GT. Not only could these cars perform, they’re some of the most beautiful and timeless designs to hit the performance car market. At this year’s Tokyo Auto Show, some Japanese manufacturers are reliving the glory days with concepts that harken back to those iconic sporting machines.
Auto magazines and blogs have reported on rumors of an RX-7 successor for years. While none of those rumors have come true, the closest we’ve seen to an official RX-7 replacement is the newly unveiled RX-Vision concept. With a long hood and short sloping back, the RX-Vision has the look of a classic GT car, albeit integrated with styling cues from the current MX-5. According to Mazda, underneath that long hood rests a brand new rotary engine called SkyActiv-R, the first time Mazda has used the engine tech since the RX-8 ceased production in 2012.
The Toyota Sports 800 might be an obscure car to call back to, but it’s impossible not to think of when eyeing up the Toyota S-FR, a car poised to challenge the Mazda MX-5. Leaked specs suggest it weighs in at a mere 2,160 pounds and is powered by a 128 horsepower 1.5-liter engine at the front with power sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed gearbox. Though there’s no confirmation it will be sold (in the US or otherwise), its Scion-like interior looks suspiciously close to production-ready.
Yamaha Sports Ride
Though not a revival of any one specific car, the Yamaha Sports Ride looks like it could be a modern-day interpretation of the Toyota MR2 (or maybe even the elusive ASL Garaiya). Designed by Gordon Murray (the guy behind the McLaren F1), the Sports Ride concept is made from an “iStream Carbon” chassis — essentially, a honeycomb chassis sandwiched between two carbon skins. The carbon frame makes the car incredibly lightweight at 1,653 pounds. In Yamaha’s words, the Sports Ride is “designed to express a driver-machine relationship close in feeling to the world of motorcycle riding.”