Tribute to Dome Zero – Japanese Wedge Supercar That Didn’t Happen
Dome Zero Japanese Supercar First Appeared in 1978
Updated October 29, 2018
Quite recently we have brought you the list of 10 most forgotten and obscure supercars ever produced. Our protagonist for the day didn’t manage to find its place there for one simple reason – it never made mass production. In fact, this Japanese supercar never actually moved from the concept phase, although it did make two appearances on 24 Hours of Le Mans. But, more on that later. Let us start from the beginning.
Mastermind behind Dome Zero is Minoru Hayashi who started reshaping and tuning cars in 1965. After 10 years he founded Dome with intention of building small batch sports cars. It didn’t take long for them to complete their first project, given the circumstances. Well, two years or so isn’t exactly short time to build a car, but Dome had limited resources at their disposal, and one rather small team of people. As they recall, it was an excruciating process for them. They worked day and night for two whole years, leading to four workers being left by their wives. Such was the life of Japanese sports cars builders back in the day. In the end, it was probably worth it. Dome Zero made its debut at 1978 Geneva Auto Show, and raised more than handful of eyebrows. Pop-up headlights and extremely sharp wedge design had a lot to do with that.
Another reason we didn’t include it on the aforementioned list is the fact it lacked power for the supercar class. Although it had all the looks it needed, 145 horsepower from a Nissan L28E inline-six engine simply wasn’t enough. Although vastly underpowered (which went right up its alley in Japan), Dome Zero failed to pass the Japanese homologation process due to company’s lack of funds. This is why the company moved on to find the answer overseas. And they nearly found one. But nearly doesn’t earn you too much in the automotive industry.
Dome Zero P2 is what came next, the following year. Hayashi’s company tried to win the US market with it, but sadly, that didn’t happen as well. There were 30 models planned for the price of ¥400,000 which translated to some $30,000 at the time. Some sources suggested double that figure, but it didn’t really matter in the end, anyway. It all remained on two prototypes: one in lime green, and another in red paint.
Parallel with the prototypes, Dome Co. Ltd decided to try their luck at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979 and 1980. Two Dome RL units built specially for the race were powered by 3.0L Cosworth straight-sixes, and packed up to 450 horses. Now, that’s a supercar-worthy performance. They, however, didn’t fare well in the race. Fueling problems forced them to finish the 1979 race much before they intended to do, ending in 52 and 53 spot respectively out of 55 entrants. The following year wasn’t any better. Or maybe it was. They finished dead last, but at least they did finish the race this time around.
Dome didn’t give up on their first born until 1986, but never managed to move from the prototype phase. Company is currently producing sports cars with some success, but they are probably still haunted by the ballad of Dome Zero – Japans wedge sports car that sadly wasn’t meant to be.