Back in the days of Gran Turismo 5 my friends and I would have multiplayer battles late into the night. NASCAR races, laps round Suzuka, Tokyo R246 etc in different classes of cars ranging from VW Beetles to Group C sportscars. One of my favourite cars to drive and indeed look at was my lightly fettled 1978 Dome Zero.
The Dome Zero was conceived as a result of founder Minoru Hayashi’s dream of entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Development began in 1976 on a road car, which was to be sold to the public to fund the development of the race version. The prototype was revealed at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show to great fanfare, attracting numbers of potential investors and buyers. Dome also managed to license the car to several toy manufacturers, giving the company valuable funds continue development. Powered by a 150bhp, 2.8 litre Nissan L28E engine, the Zero made clever use of existing components from other manufacturers matched with newly designed items.
Despite a warm reception in the domestic market, Dome failed to get the car certified for road use in Japan. A second prototype (the P2) was built, aimed specifically at export markets. Amongst a few minor exterior changes it featured larger bumpers for US crash regulations and was shown at the 1979 LA and Chicago motor shows. Yet again the Zero attracted a lot of attention including a positive review by Road & Track magazine, but yet again Dome failed to get the car homologated for road use. The road car project stalled, and Dome moved their focus on to the race version which had just as much success as the roadgoing Zero had…. none. By 1981 the project had disappeared and Dome were busy on other things, namely becoming one of the most successful racing car constructors in Japan. The Zero remains an intriguing “what might have been”.
One of the companies to acquire the license to produce the Zero in diecast back in 1978 was Tomica, and the Zero was a fixture of the basic range from 1979 until 1992. The casting reappeared over the years in special releases including the one I have here, TL0042 which was part of the Tomica Limited line released in conjunction with CAR Magazine.
It’s a beautiful casting, managing to perfectly replicate the striking shape of the real thing. And it’s a very well detailed exterior as one would expect from Tomica. Paint and decals are great and the flashes of green from the original concept look fantastic even in miniature.
The accurate wheels ride on treaded rubber tyres and sprung suspension and the scissor doors function revealing a rather basic interior. But with the outside of this car looking how it does…. are you really fussed about the interior?
This is a diecast to marvel at, one that looks good from every angle. Knowledge of the Dome Zero is essential for every Japanese car geek, and so is this Tomica.
(Find the Tomica Dome Zero on Ebay)