|Manufacturer||DOME Co. Ltd|
|Body and chassis|
|Engine||Nissan L28E L6|
|Length||3,980 mm (156.7 in)|
|Width||1,770 mm (69.7 in)|
|Height||980 mm (38.6 in)|
|Curb weight||920 kg (2,028.3 lb)|
The Dome Zero (童夢-零 Dōmu Zero) was a prototype sports car from DOME Co. Ltd that was exhibited at the 48th Geneva Auto Show. The Dome Project, started by Minoru Hayashi in 1975, was born with the goal of producing small volume sports cars using knowledge gained from his racing exploits. The Dome Zero was the first of such low volume sports cars, and after failed attempts at Japanese domestic homologation, their efforts were concentrated on homologation overseas. The project was never completed.
Genesis of the Dome Zero
The initial design of the Zero started in 1976 with most of the work done on the prototype done by the end of the following year. It was at this time that Hayashi first had the idea to be able to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a prospect that had full support from his employees. Obtaining funds to be able to compete at Le Mans became a top priority, and selling a small volume of sports cars would help as well.
The Dome Zero prototype was completed in time for the 48th Geneva Auto Show in 1978 where it was the star of the show and had received a lot of attention from various investors and interested buyers, but as mentioned earlier, Japanese homologation was discouraged. This led to more energy being committed to a second prototype road car and the Le Mans endeavor, which began the following year from 1979 until 1986.
It is not entirely clear exactly why the Dome Zero (structurally) failed to achieve Japanese homologation for such a successful concept car, but what is clear is that homologation rules were very strict at that time in Japan, and DOME did not have the funds to go through with the costly homologation procedure - which Japanese mainstream auto makers with their giant budgets had no trouble doing.
Zero P2 and racing at Le Mans
Failure to achieve Japanese homologation led to the development of the Dome Zero P2, a car made specifically for the international market.
The P2 had unusually large front and rear bumpers added (for the US market) and various other structural modifications at the expense of cosmetics. Despite this, the car was shown at the Chicago and Los Angeles motor shows in 1979 and got rave reviews from Road & Track magazine. It was at this point Hayashi realized a high profile could be achieved by making a Dome Zero race car dubbed the 'RL'. The Dome Zero RL was raced at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans motor race, but failed to finish, and only managed a last place finish in 1980. It was at this time that DOME dropped the Zero road and race car projects altogether and continued contesting the 24 hours of Le Mans motor race with other cars until 1986.
The Dome Zero was not really a supercar by today's standards, but for Japanese privateer carmakers at the time, it was an incredible step forward. It was by no means powerful with its 2.8L L28 SOHC straight-six engine producing 145 PS (105 kW; 143 hp), but it only had to propel a 920 kg (2,028 lb) chassis. With this engine, the Dome Zero offered a power-to-weight ratio that closely matched Porsches of the day.
The Dome Zero P2 was to sell for around ¥400,000 or US$32,820.
In popular culture
- The Dome Zero was the inspiration behind the Transformers Classics series figure of the Generation 1 character Hot Rod in 2006, labeled with the character's alternate name Rodimus due to trademark issues with "Hot Rod".
- A silver Dome Zero is featured as a special prize car in the Xbox game Sega GT 2002 and is drivable from the start of Sega GT Online.
- It also makes an appearance in Gran Turismo 4 for the PlayStation 2 as a prize for getting all gold medals in the International A license. The car is also won as a prize for completing the Supercar Nostalgia Cup in Gran Turismo 5 for the PlayStation 3, and the car is carried over into Gran Turismo 6.
- The Zero has also appeared in an episode of the anime Yatterman.
- A model resembling the car appears in Season 2, Episode 3 of Danger 5.
- Chassis: MR (mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive)
- Engine: straight-6 Nissan L28
- Capacity: 2,753 cc (168.0 cu in)
- Power: 145 PS (107 kW; 143 hp)
- Torque: 23.0 kg·m (226 N·m; 166 lb·ft)
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Weight: 920 kg (2,028 lb)
- Brakes: Ventilated disks front/solid disks rear
- Suspension: Double wishbone front/coils rear
- Tyre: 185/60/VR13 Front, 255/55/VR14 Rear
- "The Japanese Supercar That Almost Was the Dome Zero". Autoblog. 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
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