• The Autozam A-1 is the rarest of the sporting kei cars (a lower highway tax category with constraints on displacement and dimensions), and a single is now detailed for sale on the auction web site Deliver a Trailer, with the auction to stop on Wednesday, October 12.
• Autozam was Mazda’s modest-car or truck manufacturer, and this motor vehicle also springs from Suzuki underpinnings.
• It’s also a collectible fragment of the 1990s collapse of Japan’s economic bubble.
As Derek Zoolander could possibly say, “What is this, a Ferrari for ants?” Properly, kind of. The pint-dimensions Autozam AZ-1 brings together aspects of a Testarossa, an F40, and even a 512BB. The bodywork is wild, as are these gullwing doors, but tucked underneath the sheetmetal is a turbocharged 3-cylinder motor that displaces barely much more quantity than a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.
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What provides? Perfectly, the AZ-1 is a kei car or truck, 1 of Japan’s shoebox-sized course of autos developed less than the country’s tightly regulated road taxation rules. Kei vehicles, or properly keijidōsha (“gentle cars”), are even now the most common sort of auto on the streets of Tokyo these days, but they are now mainly uniform packing containers, maximizing house on a tiny footprint. Cute, but couple of of them are thoroughly remarkable.
Not so with this throwback to the large-water mark of the hubris of the Japanese bubble financial system. The AZ-1 is about as exotic as kei autos ever go, a mid-engined, gullwinged, turbocharged hummingbird of a matter.
This 1992 case in point is at the moment up for auction at Convey a Trailer, part of the Hearst Autos team together with Motor vehicle and Driver. With six days remaining, bidding sits at $18,250 and is sure to climb.
As Japan entered the 1980s, spirits had been substantial and serious estate selling prices ended up via the roof. The county’s automakers ended up caught up in the enthusiasm, embarking on moonshot item developments from the likes of the V-12–powered Toyota Century to the twin-turbocharged rotary-powered Mazda RX-7, to the world-beating R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R.
But the appealing stuff was not all at the significant conclusion. Nissan broke out of its style slump with its restricted run Pike Manufacturing unit cars and trucks, and that feeling of enjoyment started spreading. Before long, Honda experienced the Beat, a convertible, mid-engined flyweight that was like a little droptop Acura NSX. Tiny-automobile specialist Suzuki, mainly responsible for the Conquer, introduced the Cappuccino, a roadster light-weight and nimble adequate to make a to start with-era Miata come to feel like Boss Hogg’s Cadillac DeVille.
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Speaking of Miatas, Mazda assigned none other than NA Miata direct engineer Toshihiko Hirai to head up improvement on its wild kei-automobile undertaking. The strategy was to inject a tiny exhilaration into Mazda’s Autozam sub-manufacturer, possibly going a couple of far more common keis out of the showroom.
3 vehicles ended up produced for the 1989 Tokyo Motor Demonstrate: Kind A, a gullwing sportscar Form B, a much more stripped out edition and Sort C, a very small Group C vehicle. The community was overwhelmingly in favor of the Sort C, which seriously put the petite in Petit Le Mans. Mazda execs, on the other hand, took a more cautious view, and figured the enterprise could truly market a manufacturing model of the Style A.
Most of the growth function was completed in the U.K. by a compact crew of engineers. The move was possibly a economic mistake on Mazda’s aspect as, far from the house business, the enhancement crew went to town increasing structural rigidity and tuning the 660cc motor proper up to the edge of what the regulations permitted. The engine would nonetheless create the exact claimed 63 hp as the Defeat and Cappuccino—that currently being the highest permissible—but was far more responsive and had more mid-array torque.
As for the handling, the AZ-1 has the exact same slight rearward bias as an F40. And, while the power is a a very little about a tenth of Maranello’s turbocharged icon, the AZ-1 is also a tough little satan to retain on the highway. It may appear sweet, but with a tendency to snap oversteer it is really not pup-puppy helpful like Hirai’s Miata. This is a modest but pretty severe minimal motor vehicle.
In kei car planet, it truly is also the 1 every person needs. When it arrived to buyers in 1992, Japan’s financial bubble had by now burst, and a toy like the AZ-1 was an extravagance couple chose to invest in. Mazda sold just 4392 of them in excess of a yr (along with 531 autos branded as Suzuki Caras), as compares to the approximately 28,000 Cappuccinos and 33,000 Beats sold.
Failure makes for rarity, and rarity will make for collectability. Per pound, final bids on this AZ-1 will be up there with the likes of contemporary-caught bluefin tuna at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market place. Nevertheless, it is still more cost-effective than a Ferrari, and just as unique. Assume of it as an F.04, a mid-motor micro-supercar from the land where by the kei motor vehicle is however king. And you have obtained until finally Wednesday, October 12, to place your bid.
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