S660 Neo Classic Concept (left), and N-One “Friendly 2 Seater” (2016 Tokyo Auto Salon)

2016 Tokyo Auto Salon: ‘A true concept car’ by Honda Access’ volunteers, the back story

Two customized models based on Honda cars have gathered great attention in the 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon. The S660 Neo Classic Concept and the N-One “Friendly 2 Seater” are concept cars determinedly and voluntarily created by members of N lab., a volunteer group of Honda Accessories.

Prior to this, they conducted a designing competition as part of their company’s activities for internal development, and among the designs, the S660 Neo Classic Concept won. The N-One “Friendly 2 Seater,” meanwhile, won second place in this design contest. The competition was not limited to design-related departments only; they also accepted entries from all other departments. The designers drew sketches as their proposal, while some participants from other departments had written proposals.

The two models turned out to have boldly transformed, considering the original appearance of their base cars. The team assigned to these cars was the Phiaro Group. This business group handles the production of domestic and foreign automakers’ concept cars, and they have been independently producing the P75 Cipher sports car since 2015 as well.

Just because one can create sports cars from scratch doesn’t mean that customizing cars is easy. “We relied on manual labor for many of its parts, we exchanged data that we didn’t have until now, and there were many discussions,” said Takayuki Kawai of Honda Accessories Product Planning Design Group.

“In general model production outsourcing, we highly prioritize the cost and schedule, and there are times that we simply let them produce the product as perceived in the transmitted CAD data. For these two models, we conducted discussions, repeated the trial and error process, and finally reached this conclusion,” he said.

One can also say that the wood panel of the N-One “Friendly 2 Seater” is a result of this process. It doesn’t have back seats and it has deck parts. Each part of its body features cut teak wood. Particularly, the front grille panel that surrounds the headlights has a big size; I presume they had a hard time cutting it while making it highly precise.

The reason why they adopted wooden materials was that they wanted to preserve its actual texture, which cannot be emulated by wooden panel or film. It didn’t have any clear or other types of coating at all, so its natural texture is fascinating.

Furthermore, the back of its door handle has a thin steel sheet as a reinforced panel. This is because it would not have enough strength if the door handle is just made of wood given this size; it would certainly break if you open the door with a bit more force.

The members of N lab. recalled, “The Phiaro Group’s staff were very happy with the production of these models. They worked with us with high motivation.”

“We (N lab.) have had more courage in producing great things as well.” By having this level of communication, they were able to complete the production of these models successfully.

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)