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1989 Suzuki Quad Raider Constellation

The 1989 Tokyo Motor Show theme was "Freedom of Mobility - A Taste of Real Life and Luxury," and the Japanese were sure ready to party. Passenger car sales grew by 30.7 percent in that year alone.

While the western world was slowed down by Hong Kong's Black Monday of 1987 and the European and American stock market crash that followed, the Japanese economy was in a pleasant bubble, with annual GNP growth close to five percent since the mid-seventies. The 1989 show represented the peak of this new prosperous era in Japan, announcing the good times with a poster as weird as one would expect coming from Tokyo:

Suzuki was one of the 332 exhibitors fighting for the crowd's attention, and it managed to grab it with the Cappuccino roadster, its new kei sports car. However, its second major concept, the Quad Raider Constellation, got lost in history.

Advertised as "a stylish sports sedan in the city streets and a versatile cross-country car over snow and off-road routes," the Quad Raider Constellation was pretty much the perfect crossover, featuring full-time all-wheel drive with Suzuki's hybrid air/hydraulic suspension. This allowed its ride height to be lifted by almost four inches on demand.

Under the hood was Suzuki's twin-cam three-liter V6 producing 220 horsepower, connected to a four-speed automatic gearbox. Since the crossover was weighing 3640 lbs. dry, the stopping force was provided by four ABS-enhanced ventilated disc brakes. That was pretty impressive for 1989, but nothing compared to Constellation's high-tech interior.

Occupants could feast their eyes on a total of three screens–a CRT in the instrument panel, two LCDs in the center console, and the rear-facing seats. The driver also got a mouse to play with "during high-speed driving." At the same time, the Constellation ticked the safety box by having projector headlights, four airbags, and a CCD video camera to monitor the kids. Who were probably expected to start misbehaving at the back the moment they got bored by their luxurious leather bucket seats or the "fuzzy control" option of the automatic A/C.

In true late eighties Japanese concept fashion, Suzuki's pink wonder also had a multi-media system capable of handling DAT, compact audio, and 8mm video cassettes, as well as CDs and a TV feed. What more could one ask for?

Looking back today, it's easy to see why the Tokyo Motor Show visitors got too busy to care about Suzuki's vision for the perfect family car.

Images: Suzuki