Italdesign Aztec

Italdesign Aztec 1980s Japanese concept car

The Italdesign Aztec was two cars for the price of one! Well, not two cars - but two cockpits. Driving responsibilities could be toggled between 'driver' and 'passenger'. Though which was which, at any one time, could have been a bone of contention! Of course, the whole point of concept cars is to put 'reality' on hold. The Aztec's designers never envisaged it going into production. A group of maverick Japanese businessmen, however, had other ideas.

Giorgetto Giugiaro was the Aztec's chief designer. Typically, his work was far from flamboyant. He had penned many a family runabout. Maybe it was just time for him to let his hair down! At any rate, Giugiaro was immensely proud of the Aztec. Slick and sophisticated - and with a silvery sheen - it was nothing if not striking. The Aztec's rear was seriously high-tech! Around the wheel arches were 'service centre' panels. They housed a raft of gizmos and gadgets. There were coded door locks, inbuilt hydraulic jack controls, and engine fluid monitors. More down-to-earth were a torch and fire extinguisher. Oh, and a petrol cap. The Aztec's interior was cutting edge, too. Cockpits communication was via headsets.

The Aztec's engine was a 5-cylinder Audi unit - turbo-charged, and transversely mounted. Transmission was Quattro 4-wheel drive. A dual-canopy body allowed easy access. The Aztec first appeared at the Turin Motor Show, Italy - in '88. There it was espied by those Japanese businessmen. They thought there might be a market for the car back home. Having bought the rights to the Aztec, they set about putting it into production. 50 replicas were duly built. The bodies were made in Italy - before being shipped to Germany. There they were handed over to tuners Mayer MTM - who installed the Audi powerplants. Finally, they reached Japan. The transportation costs were included in the price tag. The Aztec retailed at the yen equivalent of $225,000. But each car sold came with an added extra. Stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro signed them all personally. He was indeed proud of his Italdesign Aztec!

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