The ’90s have been a time of widespread world prosperity and optimism. And whereas there are lots of metrics on which we are able to base this declare, the one I are likely to go for is the sheer variety of sports activities vehicles that have been made, and the numerous extra that virtually obtained made.
The “virtually” class is unsurprisingly essentially the most fascinating, as a result of it features a forged of some actually formidable automobiles from the unlikeliest of sources. There was the mid-engined, rally-inspired Nissan MID4 — a testbed for the ATTESA all-wheel-drive system later made well-known within the R32 GT-R. Ford and Mitsubishi delivered some cryptic, otherworldly oddities within the type of the GT90 and HSR-II, respectively. Even corporations that had virtually no enterprise constructing manufacturing supercars, like Yamaha and motorsport firm Dome, threw hats.
On that notice, at this time we’re speaking about Tommykaira — the Japanese tuning agency that made a reputation for itself modifying Nissans and Subarus within the late Eighties. By the center of the next decade, the corporate determined the time was proper to attempt its hand at its personal sports activities automotive: the featherweight, Lotus Elise-rivaling ZZ, which might go on to promote some 200 examples.
A bona fide supercar sequel, the all-wheel-drive, RB26-powered ZZII, was within the works, however growth by no means progressed past a single prototype. Tommykaira’s car-making operations have been snapped up by Japanese auto components big Autobacs within the early aughts and rechristened as Autobacs Sportscar Laboratories — from which we obtained the oddly-windowed Garaiya — earlier than that, too, vanished.
If you’ve played Gran Turismo, you may already be familiar with Tommykaira; all three of those cars I just mentioned have been featured in the PlayStation racing series, even though only the original ZZ was ever manufactured in numbers. However, 1999’s Gran Turismo 2 included one more Tommykaira product with an even more nebulous existence: the ZZIII.
As far as I can tell — and believe me, I’ve been looking — there is not a single photo of a real ZZIII to be found anywhere on the internet. And while Gran Turismo does have a historical past of “inventing” vehicles, this wasn’t a kind of circumstances. The ZZIII’s description in GT2 suggests a automobile that Tommykaira absolutely supposed to make. Courtesy the Gran Turismo Wiki:
In distinction to the “pure sports activities racing” picture of the ZZ-II, the ZZ-III affords a extra acquainted type of idea that could be known as “pure sports activities lite.”
The result’s a two-door sports activities GT automotive. Consistent with the occasions, it’s a true sports activities automotive however additionally it is environmentally pleasant. It may be used for motor sports activities, however in some ways it’s a new sort of sports activities automotive for the twenty first century, one which embodies new expertise that was collectively developed with one other automaker.
What different automaker did Tommykaira try to associate with to appreciate this ambiguous “new expertise?” We’ll by no means know for positive, however my hunch is Nissan. Tommykaira was planning to supply a “hyper CVT” as an choice within the ZZIII in response to this, and solely Nissan was bullish sufficient to deem its CVTs “hyper.” Right here’s extra from the sport description:
This machine boasts a troublesome however gentle weight metal and aluminum body and a mid-mounted high-performance gasoline engine of 1.6 to 2.0 liters displacement. There’s a selection of two transmission sorts: five-speed guide or hyper CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission).
The ZZ-III’s chassis options double wishbone suspension in each entrance and rear, with inboard push rod-type shocks and comes. Ventilated disc brakes are put in on all 4 wheels.
The goal weight for this automotive was a mere 700 kg (1,540 lbs), making the ZZ-III one of many lightest of its sort. Mix that with a strong engine and a really perfect chassis and what you get is likely one of the lightest sports activities vehicles ever.
The price can be not very heavy-about 4 million Yen (US$36,000) After all, the automotive is just not solely sporty however snug, full with air con and different anticipated facilities. No surprise ZZ followers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the ZZ-III.
Gran Turismo quoted 184 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, all in a automotive theoretically would have weighed some 650 kilos lower than an authentic Miata. Doesn’t that sound like enjoyable? Alas, the ZZIII exists solely on this planet of video video games, and the one pictures of the automotive I may find from exterior GT2 have been these design sketches on Japanese fanatic discussion board Minkara.
In all chance, Tommykaira most likely had its plan for the ZZIII, identical to it did for the ZZII, however the realities of this merciless trade obtained in the way in which. Or, perhaps it morphed into the Garaiya. As believable as both idea sounds, they’re not ok for me; I want closure. My seek for it continues, and I’ve reached out to consultants on the Worldwide Tommykaira Membership for perception. Within the meantime, I couldn’t let the fading reminiscence of the ZZIII utterly evaporate.