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These Are Some Of Akira Toriyama's Best Automotive Creations And Car Cameos

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

The announcement of Akira Toriyama’s death on March 8 prompted a flood of farewells from fans of the manga artist’s many creations. Toriyama died at the age of 68 on March 1 due to an acute subdural hematoma, and fans are mourning the late character designer, who was so beloved around the world that he was knighted in France in 2019. As a lifelong fan of Toriyama, it’s my duty to light a candle for him before the altar of St. Goku, and to remember the artist by sharing some of his best automotive art.

Akira Toriyama’s most famous creation was the Dragon Ball series and its spinoffs, which started out as a manga and later turned into an anime. But Toriyama’s art is also behind games such as Chrono Trigger and Dragon Quest, as well as lesser-known titles like The Adventures of Tongpoo and Dr. Slump.

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

One thing these all have in common is a love and enthusiasm for automobiles, motorcycles and spaceships, which is apparent in renditions of the machines — some real, some fictional — that populated Toriyama’s worlds. So, kickback like Majin Buu reading CAR magazine and peruse some of Toriyama’s best auto renditions and outlandish creations:

Akira Toriyama (1955-2024)

Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP (Getty Images)

I’d be remiss without including a photo of Akira Toriyama himself, and saying rest in peace to the manga master, whose art influenced the course of popular culture in Japan, the U.S. and Latin America alike. Thank you, Mr. Toriyama.

Renault R5 Turbo

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

Bulma’s Renault 5 Turbo appeared in the very first chapter of the Dragon Ball manga, when a young Goku and Bulma meet. This would mark the beginning of a saga that spanned decades and was exported around the globe to adoring fans. Kid Goku destroyed that poor R5 Turbo, which simultaneously introduced us to Bulma and cemented her excellent taste in cars.

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

Porsche 911 Carrera

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

You can make out the driver of this Porsche 911 Carrera if you squint. Master Roshi is in the side mirror there, just past Kuririn’s head. I don’t know who’s having more fun, the driver or unruly passenger, on this scenic drive.

Shelby Cobra

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

Toriyama has great love for small roadsters, such as the famous Cobra, as well as other vehicles made by Carroll Shelby, who was behind another car featured in this list.

Chevrolet Bel Air

Goku can’t help himself from destroying cool cars. He’s a menace to automobiles everywhere, but we love him all the same. King Kai’s beloved Chevy Bel Air convertible returns for a reprise, and Goku’s teacher is also apparently fan of other big American sedans, like the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.

Chevrolet C-Series

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

That looks like a single cab Chevy C-Series pickup, which struck me as an S-10 at first. The characteristic white squares that serve as reverse lights in the tail lights give it away. I’m absolutely smitten by Toriyama depicting such a truck.

Fiat 500 Abarth

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

Another of the vehicles Goku destroys is this Fiat 500 Abarth, which appeared in the Dragon Ball manga. At least it got the honor of receiving one of Goku’s first “Kamehameha” blasts, which would go on to become near-synonymous with the Saiyan himself.

Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha
Illustration: Bird Studio/Shueisha

Kawasaki KR250

Screenshot: IMCDB
Screenshot: IMCDB

I told you Bulma has excellent taste. Here she is on Kawasawki’s 250CC two-cylinder “tandem twin” motorcycle, which won four MotoGP championships.