24th Tokyo Motor Show (1981
. 10/30 - 11/10)
|The 24th Tokyo Motor Show Poster
"Reliable Vehicles for Better Living"
The 1980s dawned amid expectation and uncertainty. The
world was struggling with low economic growth and instability.
However, in science, technology and industry, where "no
further innovation" was once forecast, active advancement
was expected to resume particularly in electronics, mechatronics,
and material science. In hopes of contributing to building
the kind of world all people wish for, the theme of the
show was decided as "Better living, surer vehicles."
Fortunately, Japan s automobiles are world class in terms
of energy-saving performance. Energy conservation is the
common wish of all people, and effective use of energy
is indispensable for all the world s people to enjoy better
living, as well as for world peace. Furthermore, in order
to offer the convenience of an automobile whenever required,
minimizing breakdowns and providing rapid and accurate
maintenance service are important. In this area also,
Japanese cars have been evaluated as top class. Because
of this superiority, appropriate prices, and comfortable
interiors, Japanese cars have received support from many
users throughout the world. And regrettably, it is also
true that this very fact has been inviting economic friction,
which is an unfortunate situation. Still, since these
characteristics are what the world is after, it is important
to realize an affluent society in which man and vehicle
can live together. This was the theme of the show.
The 24th Motor Show, the first show of the 1980s, was
opened in line with the above theme and aroused great
enthusiasm among exhibitors. Automakers had continuously
announced new models since early that spring, and exhibited
at the show a large number of production prototypes to
be introduced in the near future. They also presented
many innovations, particularly in electronics. The following
is a general view of the exhibitions. Conspicuous was
a sharp increase of FF (front engine drive) systems in
small and mass-market cars. Particularly in the mass-market
segment, FF was adopted in most cars, allowing a roomier
interior and increased utility. As for bodies, "three
box" saloon cars were provided, along with the "two box"
cars which were once popular. Thus, selection was widened.
Car design was aerodynamically refined with lower bodies,
reducing air resistance. Together with lighter bodies
incorporating more high tension steel and plastics, this
helped improve fuel efficiency. Engines became smaller
and lighter. By reducing fuel consumption, the conflicting
demands of higher output, cleaner emissions and economy
were successfully satisfied.
Use of electronic fuel injection systems wherein an electronically
controlled carburetor adjusts the air-gas mixture increased,
and turbo chargers rapidly became popular. The turbo charger
that helps improve output and economy by recouping energy
left in the exhaust gas, and its competitor the DOHC engine
attracted young people, which led to power competition.
Automatic transmissions were also remarkably popular.
Although they previously had poor performance and economy,
advancements such as increased gear shifts spurred wider
acceptance. The attraction of easy driving has made the
system increasingly popular.
Adoption of electronics so-called "Magic wand" in the
automobile was also extensively displayed. Many features
were yet in the experimental stage. The following are
some of those: a suspension adjusted automatically through
the use of micro computers, lighter power steering, an
electronic skid control mechanism that monitors wheel
motion, and a wiper that starts automatically when it
senses rain drops. Electronics were also used in air conditioners,
tilting steering wheels, diagnostic equipment, voice warning
equipment, and bright, easy-to-see digital meters. A variety
of new technologies making the vehicle safer, more convenient,
and enjoyable were in bloom there. The fact that many
foreign visitors were eagerly taking notes seemed to explain
that those technologies were probably the ones Japan could
boast of to the world. New models in the exhibitors' booths
testified strongly of the arrival of a turbo age. Mitsubishi
followed Nissan, which started the turbo age, in exhibiting
a full lineup of turbo engines from 1400cc to 2300cc diesel.
Daihatsu displayed as a reference the Charade De Tomaso
Turbo, and Isuzu the Gemini Turbo and Diesel. This turbo
boom also influenced the motorcycle industry. Honda took
the initiative, and three other companies joined in. Thus,
they all displayed turbo models, which became the talk
of the young people.
An unusual display was Suzuki Community Vehicle with a
50cc engine. Mitsubishi also announced a prototype of
a city car even smaller and simpler than its existing
midget cars as a suggestion for minimum transport in the
near future. The Matsuda MX-81 was unusual in that air
resistance under the floor was reduced.
vehicles such as minivans and 4WD off-roaders increased in number
and kind. Wider variety and more distinct functions were the
trend noticed at this show. In the commercial vehicle area,
innovations were found in a new model announced by Hino, the
Super Dolphine, which was equipped with such advanced technology
as full floating electrically operated carburetor and an electronic
fuel injection system, the first to be introduced in a Japanese
It was also characteristic of this show that the sluggish midget
vehicle ndustry became revitalized. Suzuki, a representative
midget vehicle manufacturer, had developed the Alto as both
a commercial vehicle and a passenger car two years earlier.
The car was priced as low as ¥470,000, and gained popularity
as a second car, especially for women drivers, which led to
a recovery of midget car sales. This success stimulated other
midget vehicle makers. The FF Rex by Fuji Heavy Industries,
the Cuore by Daihatsu, and the Minica Econo by Mitsubishi all
debuted at once. The makers offered automatic transmissions,
unusual in midget cars, to attract women users.
In the foreign car section, Fiat exhibited the Panda with
an unusually low price of ¥1,490,000, while Citroen and Peugeot
brought in models with Japanese specifications including right-hand
steering. Although foreign car makers were positive about entering
a new market in Japan, their stalls were not very rousing. Visitor
interest seemed to be directed at domestic cars, with their
rush of new technologies.
The Theme Hall featured the latest technologies used in automobiles
under the title, "Today s Auto Engineering." The 24th motor
show thrived as the first show in the 1980s, with the exhibition
of 849 vehicles and admissions of 1,114,200.