There are all sorts of things I’m looking forward to seeing at the Tokyo motor show tomorrow but none more than who turns up. Two years ago and domestic brands apart, the place was a pale shadow of its former self.
It was bad enough that too few manufacturers had too little product to launch but what was far, far worse were the number that simply didn’t even bother to turn up. Ford and General Motors – two of the five largest car companies in the world – could not be tempted across the Pacific to visit a show deemed unmissable a few short years ago.
Nor was there any Italian presence: no Fiat, no Alfa, no Maserati and even no Ferrari. Can you imagine how the show must have diminished for Ferrari not to feel the need to attend the biggest show in one of the wealthiest, car-obsessed nations on earth.
Many Brits were notable by their absence too: if McLaren could be forgiven for giving it a miss, show-goers might have felt Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce had less of an excuse. The only no-shows that were perhaps expected included every Korean and Chinese manufacturer.
At the time I rang around and enquired why so many had stayed home and the answers were uniform: times were tough and all the money that would have once been spent in Tokyo was now earmarked for Shanghai and Beijing. In short if you’re only going to attend one show in the Far East, it’s going to be in China.
Times are less tough now so I hope there is far greater representation from abroad. But even if there’s not, the domestics always ensure there’s a good time to be had at Tokyo, marvelling at their wacky concepts and home-market kei cars. Of those I know about so far, the Honda S660 concept is the one I’m most looking forward to seeing.
A true successor to the brilliant old Honda Beat, and if it’s anything like as good in the flesh as it is in the photographs, I know I’m going to lament the fact that it’ll never come to the UK, other than as a private import. The production car is said to vary to no significant extent.
It’s rare I get excited about a sub-1.0-litre car I’ll almost certainly never drive, but in the case of the S660, I’m prepared to make an exception.