• Aug 7, 2007
click above image for more views of the Dome Zero

What do you get when you mix Japan's burgeoning fortunes as an automaker in the 1970s along with a passel of frustrated racers? One of the first Japanese supercars, that's what. The Dome Zero's road to the 1978 Geneva Motor Show was paved with broken marriages, infrequent bathing schedules, and a nearly impossible deadline. It sounds like an episode of Monster Garage, now that we think about it. The wedgy, Italian-esque body evokes the finest work of the House of Nuccio. Power came from a Datsun inline six, offering a power to weight ratio on par with Porsches of the day.

[Source: Dome.co.jp via grandJDM.com]



Dome was a racing shop initially, so the learning curve to road vehicles was a steep climb. The marathon finally finished, the Zero took the stand at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show. Enough of a stir was whipped up that several Japanese toy manufacturers approached Dome about licensing the design. Looking to bring the actual car to market, Dome entered into agreements with the toy manufacturers. The sales of the little cars funded the development of the real deal to the point where Dome built a new HQ in Kyoto.

The Zero progressed nearly to production, but was derailed after over a year of wrangling unsuccessfully with Japan's Ministry of Transport. Failing to gain approval to homologate the car in Japan, Dome decided to try building the car in the United States and reimporting Zeros into Japan. We're not sure what finally caused the project to grind to a halt, but a few prototypes with chunky US-spec bumpers are all that remains. Dome went back to racing, and paid homage to this star-crossed road car by naming their first LeMans entry the Dome Zero RL. Thirty years on, all we can do is gaze at the pictures and dream of what might have been.

BONUS: Watch the Dome Zero run in Gran Turismo 4


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  • 22 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Do the Japanese have a monopoly on cool names or something?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Fittingly enough, Dome means "dream" in Japanese, if I remember the article in Road & Track correctly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I remember seeing pictures of this show car back in the day. Thought it was cool as heck. And, I still very much like the looks of it. Have always loved the concept cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      OMG!

      I remember having a Dome R/C car when I was growing up in the early 80's! It was faithfully recreated as the original model (not like the pic with the big wheels), and man it was fast!

      Mine was red :) Cheers for the flashback!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Long history of blandness.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Oh great, the first comment is a troll.
          • 7 Years Ago
          You know, the more I look at it, the cooler this car looks.
      • 7 Years Ago
      And whom, among us Autoblog faithful, wouldn't want to drive that at least just once?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would not want to clean that dashboard when it gets dusty! :D I doubt any human could reach the inside of the windsheild, near the bottom.

      Interesting look, though. I figured that Dome Zero referred to the fact that it has no headroom, though.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Vector Aeromotive financed W8 development thanks to lawsuits. The W8's most famous owner was Andre Agassi, who saw his W8 engine backfire, and had his car refunded.

      Cool that some people still remember the Vector.
      • 7 Years Ago
      by the way Waltzon, I LOVE sexy cars. There's just nothing sexy about these particular contraptions.. They look like a toy car a design team for General Mills might have thought of when they were trying to make something "futuristic" on the fly. Take a look at this post and notice that I'm not the only one who thinks so.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Cindy, I should probably smack you silly for even calling that fat bus a novelty. That technology has been here for Decades, the Dome Zero isn't, and with a L28 from a 280Z, twin-turbocharge it (I doubt I've seen one, but w/e), and you basically got a road-going supercar for cheap.

        Don't expect to win any races in that POS lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        Cidny, my mistake.
        • 7 Years Ago
        On the other hand, actually take a look at the DMV. Now there is an aesthetic that truly is new to our era. That's novel! that's exciting! the real look of the future, because that's what consumers AND designers are going for.

        http://cardevotion.com/Article/149/The_Dual_Mode_Bus_Train.html
      • 7 Years Ago
      These "super cars" look a little stale to me. What I find more impressive is the innovative approach Japan has to "solution cars". Take, for example, the DMV, a bus/train, that actually transitions between the two. You can actually see a video of it going straight from road to rails on youtube (there's a good article on cardevotion.com, too). Forget toy-space-disk styling conciets, this fuel efficient, flexible and much-needed traffic solution is much closer to what I would consider a real "Super Car".
        • 7 Years Ago
        Cidny, I appreciate your fervor for technology being put to practical purposes and agree with you that the DMV is a very cool piece of technology. However, you might want to take a look around here. This is Autoblog. Practical, common-sense and mundane are not concepts which really stir the souls of most of the readers here. No matter how closely held your principles might be, airing them in an inappropriate forum does nothing to dignify them. It's kind of like giving a eulogy at a rock concert. You might find more adherents over at AB Green. For now, please allow those of us with a sense of style, an appreciation for automotive history and hot, red blood flowing through our veins to appreciate something simply because it appeals to us.

        Now get the hell out of here and go hug a tree.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Dome Zero? Sounds like something straight out of Chrono Trigger. The Dome Zero closely resembles an early Countach. It's a shame it didn't see the light of day--kinda like the Vector.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I believe only seventeen W-8s were built because of production problems, and they ended being little better than an HO kit car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      More like dumb zero!
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