Beyond the concept cars and production models, the Tokyo Motor Show always delivers delightful oddities. Here are our favorites from this year's show.
has designed cars for GM, Porsche, and Pininfarina, including the Ferrari Enzo and Maserati Quattroporte. This baby blue speedster is , a jaw-dropping machine built on Lotus Elise underpinnings that wouldn't look out of place in a Speed Racer comic. Yes, he also designed that tractor.
The Kode9, in coupe and roadster format, was joined by , an Ariel Atom-style minimalist machine, while the back-left corner showcases—you guessed it—a Yanmar farm tractor of Okuyama's design. In the middle, that small red-and-white piece of machinery is a Yanmar rice transplanter. Truly a motor show.
Refrigerator-shaped microvans are a staple in cramped Tokyo, and this Daihatsu concept fits the form factor perfectly. The dual sliding doors and drop-down ramp invite wheelchair access, but our favorite feature is the music-note turn signals.
Are tilting eighth-notes the new blinkers? Daihatsu makes a convincing, if not totally practical, argument in their favor.
The Noriori isn't the only Daihatsu concept with whimsical turn signals—check out the randomized pattern on the Hinata's four-way flashers. It's actually kind of mesmerizing, which maybe isn't the safest goal for a turn signal.
Easily the most delightful of Daihatsu's kei-van concepts is the Tempo, an actual coffee shop on wheels. Proposed as a sort of microcar version of the typical food truck, it's got just enough room to, say, brew up a cappuccino, but your barista probably couldn't do it standing up.
With a fold-out awning, a display case, and just enough counter space to conduct beverage transactions, this 660-cc cafe has everything a small business owner needs for portable commerce.
Inside, it's about as minimalist as a coffee shop can get. The upshot is, there's no room for laptop-slinging hipsters to set up shop for their all-day freelance Facebook sessions.
One of the greatest delights of attending the Tokyo Motor Show is discovering the amusingly offbeat names of JDM production models. Meet , a charming little mini-4x4 that packs 52 horses and weighs far less than 2,000 pounds.
You've probably seen this Toyota concept already, but it bears mentioning again, just because the details are so perfect. A sort of bizarro dune buggy retrofuturistic hot rod, this concept celebrates the beauty of unadorned mechanical components. It's both minimalist and whimsical.
Take a close look at the Kikai's tires. See the inward-facing whitewall? That's an old, old hot rodder trick, from back when the squares had whitewalls and the badasses preferred the menacing all-black look. The Kikai may be a three-seat, mid-rear engine future-buggy, but it speaks the language of the greaser tradition.
This one was a bit of a taunt to the Japanese audience: The 70-Series Land Cruiser, first introduced in 1974, left the Japanese market this summer, unable to meet the country's new stability control requirements. As is becoming tradition among 4x4 makers, it wore a convincing coating of off-road grime.
Forget the ungainly electric crossover concept Mitsubishi had on display—this is a three-diamond crossover we'd be proud to thrash around. It's amazing what some burly tires and box flares can do.
We came all the way to Tokyo, and who did we see? Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro, on stage at the Toyota press conference with CEO Akio Toyoda, comparing the automaker's new platform-sharing strategy to experimenting with a new baseball swing. It made sense at the time.
Speaking in Japanese, translated through closed-captioning on the video screen behind him, Ichiro said to the audience, "I love cars." So do we, Ichiro. So do we.