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Sports Cars, High-Tech Highlight Tokyo Motor Show

October 25, 1989

MAKUHARI, Japan (AP) _ Sleek, powerful sports cars and imaginative high-tech wizardry highlight the 28th Tokyo Motor Show, which opens for a 12-day run Friday.

Japan’s 11 automakers are joined by manufacturers from 15 countries, including South Korea and the Soviet Union, showing off gadgetry ranging from fingerprint-recognition to built-in personal computers and fax machines.

Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Isuzu and Subaru all have new or prototype sports cars reflecting the trend toward bigger, more powerful engines.

Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, is showing off its 4500GT concept car, a sleek sports car with a 4.5-liter powerhouse engine churning out 300 horsepower. Concept cars are often built to give engineers an idea how it will look and perform. Modificiations, sometimes major, may be made if the car goes into production.

″I see more diversification into many varieties of sports cars,″ said Toyota product planning engineer Masataka Esaki. ″Large, small, for winding roads, highway cruising, off-road driving.″

Depending on the response, concept cars displayed at the Tokyo show could become production models.

Honda has its $56,000 NSX, an aluminum-bodied, Ferrari-like speedster to be released in Japan and the United States next year.

Mazda is rolling out its Eunos Roadster, called the MX-5 Miata overseas, which has proven itself as the hottest sports car of the year. Introduced in September, it has already sold out its entire U.S. stock. The gull-wing TD-R concept sports car, with its 1.6-liter turbo engine, is designed especially for off-road driving.

Mitsubishi’s concept sports car is the 3-liter HSX, which is so aerodynamic-conscious it has hidden air spoilers that extend or lift when the car hits certain speeds or curves.

Isuzu is showing off its conceptual ″Super Midship″ 4200R, a flat racer- like four-seater packed with digital dials and a pop-up TV screen for navigation.

To top off the sports car lineup is Subaru’s Caspita, jointly developed with the unlikely partner Wacoal, Japan’s major women’s underwear manufacturer. The 3.5-liter, 12-cylinder Caspita will carry a supercharged price tag of at least $357,000, a Subaru official said.

Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, Jaguar and other foreign autmomakers also displayed new sports cars and prototypes they unveiled previously.

Nissan’s Neo-X is an ″intelligent″ car with holographic displays, laser radar systems and electronic tire pressure sensors. The station wagon-like Boga has a fingerprint-recognition device for unlocking the driver’s door that can recognize up to 10 different fingerprints.

Nissan’s futuristic Primera-X has a rear TV camera that projects images onto the rearview mirror for backing up and a highly accurate navigation system that displays street maps on a television screen.

Japan’s No. 2 automaker also unveiled its hatchback NX-Coupe, primarily for export to the United States from next year, the phaeton-like Figaro, a so- called ″retro″ two-seater whose design harks back to the 1950s but which is equipped with a turbocharged 1-liter engine, and the Chapeau, a futuristic- looking cargo vehicle.

Mazda is also showing that it is expanding into the micro-minicar market, including one in a snappy gull-wing version.

Mitsubishi is bringing out its prototype RVR, a Jeep-like beachmobile of the future.

Some vans on display show sophisticated technological innovation. Mazda’s MPV Executive is an office on wheels, with a personal computer, facsimile machine and built-in VHS video deck suspended from the ceiling.

Nissan’s Caravan has a stacked component audio system and a fax machine for receiving photos of the Earth from a weather satellite. ″Executives want to know about the weather when it comes to playing golf,″ a Nissan official said.

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