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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.

Flying Pegasus
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.

Two Basilics
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 specialist.
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 Gilamonster couldn't be completed after the Agfhan was finished, because Watanabe's wife bought a Mercedes and she didn't like its style! So what can a custom designer do? Restyle!
The Mercedes 190-based Pandora was exhibited at the 1992 Detroit Autoshow and was featured all over the world. That's when I first heard about the car: I saw a caption in the British Autocar, then in the Swiss Automobil Revue, located the company, asked some information. Little did I know the background of Watanabe or how big his studio is....
Although the Pandora was destined for a small-series production it remained a one-off because there weren't any orders!

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...

Thanks for visiting this page. Please send me Your comments.

© 1995-1997.

Paul Negyesi

Disclaimer: These information are destined to enjoy the history of the cars not to grab pictures from here and feature elsewhere. The same goes for the details. Copyright isn't a meaningful word any more, but be good and don't let me discover Your page featuring info or pix taken from the KTUD Archive without permission.

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