With virtually no foreign marques to cater for – which certainly made the Lotus, Alpina and Caterham patches stand out - the show organisers were faced with filling a lot of empty space.

There were sections with kids’ drawings, favourite photos of cars and a display of former Japanese cars of the year (plenty of dullards here, as you’d find among a retrospective of European CoTY winners), but tucked in a corner opposite the Toyota stand was a terrific 1970 Mazda concept car that would have looked dramatic had it been planted on its maker’s stand.

The RX-500 was a rotary-motored exploration into car safety, although it looked like Italian supercar challenger with its ultra-low, mid-engined stance, Miura-esque bonnet louvres, Kamm tail and single pantograph wiper.

Its body was lightweight plastic, and its extensive rear light arrangements indicated whether it was accelerating, braking or cruising.

Apparently it sat in storage for three decades until Mazda restored it last year, with the help of some of those who originally built it. It was well worth the trouble.

See the full hi-res 2009 Tokyo motor show picture gallery