Tokyo Preview: Yamaha motorcycle-inspired sports car

Yamaha teases what looks like a mid-engined sports car.

Yamaha has announced that it will debut a new concept at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. While the company is most well known for making motorcycles and ATVs, this creation appears to be a sports car.

Yamaha has yet to reveal any information about the vehicle, other than to say that the "design concept is inspired by motorcycles and expresses the unique style of Yamaha." The silhouette suggests a mid-engine layout, due to a very low cowl and hood and a canopy-style cabin that sits far forward enough to leave room for a transverse-mounted engine driving the rear wheels. Taking the proportion of the cabin into account, it is likely that the engine is a motorcycle-derived 4-cylinder.

Most buyers are familiar with seeing the Yamaha brand on motorcycles, outboard motors, and musical instruments, but the firm has a long history of building automotive engines and even entire cars. In the late 1960s, Yamaha had a carrozzeria operation, building low-production, high-end cars like the 1967 Toyota 2000GT.

Over the years, Yamaha has also helped develop various manufacturers with engine development, including Toyota for a number of twin-cams, Lexus for the LFA's V10 and Ford for the SHO V6. Yamaha has also built Formula One engines, and in the early 90s briefly marketed a 450-horsepower V12 supercar, the OX99-11.

Yamaha's rival Honda unveiled a motorcycle-inspired sports car earlier this year.

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