The strength and durability of traditional Japanese joinery techniques are put to the test with Toyota’s ‘Setsuna,’ a vehicle made almost entirely from wood. No nails, screws or glue were needed to assemble the thousands of wooden parts that went into the creation of this prototype thanks to ‘okuriari’ and ‘kusabi,’ also known as housed dovetail joints and fox-wedged mortise and tenon joints.
Designed to be a family heirloom, the Setsuna proves that cars don’t have to be technologically advanced to be modern-day marvels. Gadgets come second to the beauty of the wood in this ten-foot-long two seater, which has 86 body panels made from Japanese cedar. These panels can be fitted and removed without fasteners, so the dovetailing and mortise joints can be maintained over time if they wear down.
In fact, if properly maintained, the car could last over one hundred years, says Toyota. “When we created the Setsuna, we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value. Continuous development is possible in the form of bonds between the car and the family, like the growth rings of a tree. To proceed with the development of a car utilizing the appeal of wood, we directly spoke with experts with wide-ranging knowledge, including carpenters specializing in temple and shrine construction and ship’s carpenters.”
It’s unclear just how this wood construction would hold up in an accident, and it’s probably not exactly street legal, but it sure is beautiful.