Masao Watanabe a Japanese designer, was operating in Santa Fe, California prior to his death in October, 2003. This page is a tribute to his life and works.
In 1970 Watanabe established Carozzeria Watanabe in Japan. His background
included preparing Formula three cars, like these two:
Brabham and a hybrid: American chassis, Mazda rotary engine, Watanabe body
Two Watanabe-created prototypes the Flying Pegasus and the Lycaon were
exhibited at the Second Annual Tokyo Racing Car Show in 1970. This marked the
beginning of his design carreer.
|This car was comissioned by Mobil Oil. The aim was to create a show car to be featured in television commercials. The Flying Pegasus was a fiberglass bodied coupé based on the Honda S600.||
The Lycaon which was inspired by the stag-beetle. If You study the
picture carefully You can see the mandibles at the front. And the body is
the actual beetle :-)|
The car used a tuned Nissan Skyline 1500 engine, which delivered 140 bhp. It also remained a one-off.
The Griffon was an improved, modified and renamed Flying Pegasus. It was also based on the Honda S600.
Watanabe's next car was the Basilic in 1976.
|The Basilic was based on the Datsun 2000 SR311 roadster. Tough regulations didn't allow a self-fabricated chassis any more. The regulations and the lack of fund should be blamed that only three Basilic were ever made.|
Watanabe moved to the States when he was contracted by a Japanese firm
located in South California as a design consultant and fabrication
In 1984 he became independent and established DuoPower.
Three years late American Isuzu supplied an Impulse and Watanabe converted it to a cabriolet. The result was exhibited at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show where it attracted Mazda to ask Watanabe to supply body part for their cars and pickup trucks, firt the RX7.
Meanwhile Watanabe started to fulfill his dream-car: a hi-po rodster,
the Gilamonster. The project was suspended, when a Japanese auto pars
manufacturer, Takashi Koga comissioned DuoPower to create his own sportscar.
This was the Afghan. The name came from the lots of Afghan dogs which
lived at Koga's house. The 2-seater coupé is based on a space-frame
chasis and powered by a Chevy 350 V8 engine. Main dimensions are:
overall length 174 in (4420 mm), Overall width 73 in (1854 mm),
Overall height, 43 in (1092 mm), Wheelbase, 98 in (2490 mm),
Track f/r 60/62 in (1524 mm/1575 mm).
The car was featured in the November, 1993 issue of Petersen's Kit Car magazine.
The same faith waited for the Gilamonster, which was finally completed and
premiered at the 1993 Los Angeles Autoshow. It now collects dust at the
small workshop of DuoPower which is now a very reduced operation with
Watanabe and his wife.
The Gilamonster is powered by a Caddy V8 engine. It looks relatively good in the flesh, much better than on any images. But I show You one picture of the car, just to give You a rough impression:
Gilamonster at the 1993 Los Angeles Autoshow
I wonder how many similar ambitious designers exist world-wide whose full potential we may never know...
© 1995-1997.Paul Negyesi email@example.com
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