Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Toyota and Isuzu Sportwagons Rocked the 1971 Tokyo Show

In 1971 Toyota hit the Tokyo Show with the RV1, “Recreational vehicle 1” was Toyota’s first attempt at a sportwagon.

The concept featured a small trailer filled with an inflatable camp-hut that would expand to 13 feet in diameter and 6.5 feet high to sleep 4-5 people, and 500-watt portable generator to run an electric air pump for inflating the hut. The lid of the trailer also turned into a small boat, complete with small outboard motor.

The Celica based chassis made do with a 105hp inline-4 from the Corolla. The design featured a narrow tailgate (between the elaborate taillamp assemblies with 30 lights in total, and unique gullwing opening rear hatches. Nissan must have studied this showcar in detail for their Pulsar NX “Sportback” option. Needless to say, the RV1 never saw production, but the idea of the sportwagon was never forgotten in a host of liftbacks and hatchback designs.

Also at the ’71 Tokyo Motor Show was a sportwagon from Isuzu based on the Bellett. At the time it was called clean and European – and looks like a cross between a Lotus Eclat and a Gremlin. Based on the Bellett GT chassis, and fitted with a 1.8 liter dual carb’d twincam, the Isuzu was more sporty than the Toyota RV1 across the show on Toyota’s stand. At the time it was compared to the Volvo ES – a 2+2 with some luggage space. Like the RV1, the Bellett sportwagon never made it to the production line.

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