The Tokyo Auto Salon has been canceled for 2021 because of — you guessed it, COVID-19 — but that hasn't stopped Japan's carmakers from building some wild concepts for the event. First to reveal their lineup is Daihatsu, who brings a five-pack of whimsical kei cars to the party.
For driving enthusiasts, perhaps the most compelling is the Copen Spyder Ver. The most notable thing about the standard Daihatsu Copen is the fact it utilizes a spaceframe structure that lets you easily swap out body panels to create different looks and colors for your compact roadster. This look mixes the retro look of the Copen Cero with a speedster-style half-windshield, headrest fairings, and Volk Racing TE37 wheels.
However, it's not the only race-themed kei car here. The Hijet Sporza Ver. takes the same speedster concept and applies it to an otherwise mundane delivery van. It receives a chopped roof, half-windshield, and headrest nacelles too. But, Daihatsu also keeps a sense of humor about the van. The kanji on the door says "Laguna Fruits and Vegetables," a reference to Laguna Seca Raceway and the fact that these types of trucks are most often seen on the farms of rural Japan.
Overlanding has been the hot topic at recent SEMA shows, so it only makes sense that Daihatsu would capitalize on the trend with a Hijet Jumbo Camper Ver. The retro design is a tribute to the second-generation Hijet, but upgraded with LED lighting, a safari rack, and bed canopy.
Who's the boxy SUV that's a hit with all the outdoorsy lifestyle millennials? Taft. Who's the Daihatsu mini-crossover outfitted with rugged off-road tires? The Taft Crossfield Ver., you're damn right. Who's the kei car with a safari rack, light bar, winch and recovery points? You know I'm talkin' about Taft. Apologies to Issac Hayes.
Lastly, the Daihatsu Thor Premium Ver. D-Sport is a more traditional custom. Based on the Thor kei car, it gets blingy wheels, a roof spoiler, suspension job, and a snazzy aero kit. It probably doesn't get much in the performance department due to the kei class's horsepower restrictions to 63 horsepower, but its superb space maximization and vaguely VIP-ish look would help you cruise crowded cities in comfort and style.
It's not clear when the public will be able to see these cars in person but Daihatsu plans to show them at the Virtual Auto Salon in early January.