Welcome to the Bubble Car Era
Kei cars are cool, slow,small and fun to drive !!!
The AZ-1 is a Japanese Sports Kei Car manufactured by Mazda under its Autozam brand with collaboration with Suzuki.
It features a mid-mounted, three-cylinder turbocharged 657cc engine that produces 63 horsepower (47 kilowatts) and 63 pound-feet (85.3 Newton-meters). A five-speed manual sends the output to the rear wheels. This little car only weighs 1,587 pounds (720 kilograms). It has no storage space & has only two seats.
The gullwing doors are the most notable element of the design, and there are glass panels on the top of them, which allows plenty of light into the tiny cabin.
The proposal for the AZ-1 goes back to 1985 when Suzuki created the Suzuki RS/1 as a midship sports car project for volume production , a mid-engined targa sports car powered by the 1.3-liter engine from the Cultus (Swift). It was followed two years later by the RS-3, an evolution of the R/S1, now closed-top. This project, however, was eventually suspended by Suzuki, whose focus shifted to another project that led to the Cappuccino.
Suzuki collaborated with Mazda and picked up the mid-engine sports car project, Toshiko Hirai was put in charge who was also leading the development of the NA Miata.. Hirai and his team worked on the design and engineering of the mid-engined sports car using Suzuki’s powertrain.
At the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, they showed three concepts, now dubbed AZ-550 Sports Types A, B, and C. The car was placed under the Autozam marque, which, per Mazda’s brand diversification scheme at the time, focused on compact and kei cars.
Type A was a red sports car with pop-up headlights, front air vent and the gull-wing doors.
Type B had a greenhouse pyramid roof without a rearward sweep to the C-pillar.
Type C was nicknamed “petit C car,” sporting a miniaturized Group C racer body similar to Mazda’s Le Mans race cars.
Public reaction was incredibly positive, and Mazda decided to develop Type A into the production version. The car took three years to get into production as the engineering team changed some of its features. The car was made available to the buying public on September 1992, with two color options, Siberia Blue and Classic Red.Both colors came with Venetian Gray lower panels.
The AZ-1 was considered to be too expensive and cramped for a kei car. The car failed to sell within its target of 800 per month, in the midst of an economic recession. Production of the car ended after the following year, but Mazda had plenty of stock to sell off.
In a bid to shift unsold stock, Mazda made an effort to produce special versions such as Mazdaspeed , M2 1015 and Suzuki Cara.
Type L option, featured an additional stereo equipment.
M2 1015 had pair of driving lights integrated into the hood between the headlights and a racier rear wing.
Suzuki Cara featured additional fog lamp
After 26 years ,the AZ-1 is low legal to import into USA with its limited production.
Watch AZ-1 car video at bit.ly/2D2rpgT
Story Source: Japanesenostalgiccar