|CARS & BIKES
The 33rd Tokyo Motor
Photos by Jack G.
If you didn't get a
chance to go to this year's Tokyo Motor Show, or you went but couldn't see anything
because of the crowds, Jack G. Beasley fills you in on what you missed.
outstanding Aston Martin DB7
Motor shows are like
heaven on earth for car fans and bike freaks. This year's Tokyo Motor Show was no
exception. If you didn't make it, you missed so much I don't know where to begin. It's too
hard to pick just one highlight, so I won't even try; there were just so many great
looking and practical cars, interesting innovations and technical developments, as well as
some just for fun.
Over the years I have often wondered why the really well-designed cars were always so
expensive, and the low budget cars always looked like dogs. It seemed to me that car
makers were incapable of producing a really sharp looking car that was in the price range
of the masses.
stunning SLR Roadster Vision
Well, those days are
over. The next century will be filled with well priced, great looking cars. A good example
is the Toyota Celica, a head-turning, good gas mileage, great performing and low cost
vehicle. (See my Celica test in next week's issue.) Another, and one of my favorites at
this year's show, is the Will Vi. Yet to be produced (they're stupid if they don't), the
car is a part of the Will brand alongside many other products: Will beer, Will
refrigerators, Will computers-all kinds of Will things. The Will car is stylish, small,
fun to look at and it should be fun to drive. There is a new Will center in Aoyama near
Omotesando Crossing, or see their Japanese website.
Another highly impressive small car at the show was the new Suzuki EV-sport, the fruit of
Suzuki's technological exchanges with General Motors. It features a versatile electric
motor with a performance ranging from instantaneous torque to economical running. Its
under-floor battery lowers the center of gravity for a hard-to-beat cornering performance.
It's sure to become a winner in the small car category.
new Will Vi
Moving on to the
more expensive fun on two wheels, Benz is always worth an eyeball. Try the new SLR
Roadster Vision: Supercharged 5.5 liter, 557hp V8 engine, 320kmh top speed, 100kmh in 4.2
seconds and carbon-fiber and aluminum bodywork, providing optimum passenger protection and
ensuring a weight advantage of around 40% over conventional sports cars. And the looks -
well, I'd give my right arm to have one of these in my parking space.
The next of my all time want-to-haves (this time on four wheels) is the Jaguar XK8. Superb
styling, supreme comfort, outstanding looks - you have to see it to understand its beauty.
Then there's a car that dates back to 1913: The all-famous, wanted by everyone, affordable
to almost no one, Aston Martin. Aston Martin sold its first car in Japan in 1966, a DB6,
for just JY720,000. These days the price would be more like JY16 million. Last year, only
30 cars sold in Japan because of the slow economy, but during the bubble it was 80 a year.
A vintage model Aston Martin DB7, with a maximum speed in excess of 180mph (290kmh),
powered by a totally new, hi-tech 420hp, 6.0 liter V12 engine, was seen for the first time
in Japan at the motor show. Actually, I lied-I do have a favorite. The Aston Martin was,
for me, the most outstanding car at the show. In fact it's my all time car of cars. I just
wish I had an extra JY16 million lying around.
The lesson from this year's Motor Show: It looks like the consumer is in a win-win
position for the next century as cars become less expensive, more versatile, easier on the
environment... and more fun.