「A Dream for the Supercar Generation, The Legendary Dome-Zero P-2!」Japan’s First Supercar!
Published : 2019/12/27 16:00 Modified : 2019/12/27 16:00
Said to be “Japan’s First Supercar”, here’s the commercial spec Dome Zero P-2!
A race spec model developed for commercialization!
In 1975, “Dome Project” began a mission to produce an original road sports car. Development continued over the next three years with the “Dome-Zero” making its grand debut at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show.
Gull wing doors were used for styling effect to complement the futuristic wedge shape. Despite being a prototype model at the time, it gave off a supercar aura at a glance and was the first of its kind from a Japansese automaker. Add this to the fact that it was introduced during a supercar boom. The “Dome” name spread like wildfire.
The styling shocked many especially coming from a Japanese manufacturer, but the car was also well rounded. The basic structure is a combination of an FRP semi-monocoque body on a steel monocoque chassis.
Front and rear suspension are double wishbone type. This type has a long history of race use because of lateral rigidity and little change in geometry. The current multilink system can be said to be an advanced type in comparision.
It is powered by a Nissan L28 engine mounted vertically in front of the rear axle for a full rear midship layout. Aside from a triple Solex carburator and a one-off exhaust, the engine remains basically normal. The head cover has a “Dome” plate attached.
The transmission mated to the L28 is a race spec ZF 5-speed manual. Brakes are also race spec with an in-board system to dramatically reduce unsprung weight.
The radiator is in the nose. By setting the front side high and the rear low, wind flowing under the bumper is efficiently drawn into the core and pulled out the top of the body by two electric fans. Surprisingly the body panel covering the radiator is removeable.
If you look at the width if the side sills on the interior, you’ll find that the opening for the gull wing is huge. This is one way of increasing body stiffness. The readouts are digital. Mounted in front of the passenger seat are the Alpine cassette tuner and equalizer.
Setup in a racing patter, upper left is reverse and lower left is first gear. The shifter feels somewhat distant because of the long linkage. In a very novel design touch, the e-brake is integrated as the a lid to the center console box.
Accelerator pedal is an organ type one and the clutch and brake a lifted of the floor, requiring a lot of force to engage. The width of the floorboard is narrowed down to the nose because the wheel housing cuts in at the left and right. Still, there is no shortage of legroom.
The surface of the seat is like a thin cushion on the floor. Seating position is very low in the interior. Since the angle of the seat back is even sharper than it looks, the driving position requires fully extended limbs to reach the wheel.
At that time, Dome had been in negotiations with the Ministry of Transport in Japan for over a year in order to obtain legal certification. Without proper permission, gaining approval in Japan was abandoned. Then, they established Dome USA in America and found a way forward. They planned to produce an improved model that would comply with United States laws, obtain approval and import it back into Japan. The “P-2” model was developed in this process.
Inspecting the aluminum plate affixed to the drivers side door, we can see the model number P-2 stamped there. The chassis number is 2.
At just a glance, both the Zero and the P-2 look the same. However, improvements made in the USA to get approval weighed in at 150 different points. The main visual changes included raising the bumper position by about 10cm and using urethane to meet safety standards.
Actually, the Zero and the P-2 are completely different in size. At 3980mm, the Zero is 250mm shorter than the P-2 model. This is about the size of a Mazda NC Roadster. With a body that is 50mm shorter in the wheelbase, 5mm narrower in width and 10mm shorter in height, the Zero gives a much tighter impression than the P-2. Because of the P-2’s safety changes to the front bumper, the Zero is 100mm lower overall and the design around the front nose is sharper.
Another example of a major difference is the gull wing door. It opened straight up on the Zero but was opened diagonally forward on the P-2 making the opening wider. Because this change had to be accomodated in the overall design, it was quite a specification change in the end.
Dome struggled for participation in the Le Mans and fought for vehicle approval in various ways. The move to commercialize the P-2 stopped soon after.
Engine Type：Inline 6 Cylinder SOHC 12 Valve
Transmission Type：ZF 5-Speed Manual
Suspension Type：FR Double Wishbone
Brakes：FR Ventilated Disc
Tyre Size：F185/60-13 R225/60-14