Road legal Italdesign concept car spotted in Japan

Clapping eyes upon an Italdesign Aztec remains a seldom found opportunity. However, gearheads in Japan were treated to a rare appearance

Once the outright climax of 1988’s Turin Motor Show, Italdesign’s Aztec concept car made a rare appearance during a retro car show in Japan. Still futuristic to the ultimate degree some thirty years after its initial unveiling, the Aztec drew newfound appreciation from the young, and the young at heart, as it radiated amongst a plethora of home-grown and foreign exotica.

Although the Aztec’s mechanicals and underpinnings were pinched from other brands –transmission from Lancia and the 250bhp five-cylinder turbo from Audi – the bodywork design remains truly unique. A reimagining of transport’s basic concept, driver and passenger were separated with individual compartments where communication was upheld by an electronic intercom system. For top dramatic effect, the Aztec’s canopy had to be raised for doors to open.

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Besides a space-age mantra, the car’s tubular ladder frame was crafted from aluminum, carbon fiber and Kevlar, incorporating flanks and style cues that accommodated internal coded buttons to unlock the car and an interface for the integrated hydraulic jack system and various engine control devices.

After Turin, the rights were brought by Mario Myakawa, a Japanese industrialist who commissioned a technically developed car for road homologation and the possibility of limited production. The first fully functional model broke cover during the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix for a lap of the circuit before racing commenced.

Once approval for production was given, fate intervened and subjected the Aztec to financial austerity. During a period of global recession with a display price of well over 500,000 DM ($640k with modern inflation), only 50 examples were made. As such, these road-going concept vehicles are now serious collectors items and rarely see the light of day.

Not much is known about the fine example displayed here, but given by the riotous outpouring over social media, car enthusiasts and design fanatics alike were delighted to finally see one in the metal.

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