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Among the greatest Japanese automobiles from the ’90s are passing the 25-year mark and changing into obtainable for import into the US. A kind of examples is the Autozam AZ-1 Kei automobile. This little automobile is a scaled-down model of a mid-engined Italian supercar. Kei automobiles have been a well-liked sort of auto within the Japanese marketplace for years now, and there’s a good cause for that. For starters, Japan is a reasonably crowded nation due to its geographical measurement, subsequently some issues are smaller, like their roads and streets for instance. There are additionally different benefits of getting a small automobile. One of many fundamental ones is that Kei automobiles are lighter, cheaper, and have smaller engines, which then interprets into higher gas economic system.

The AZ-1 is sort of probably among the finest and most well-known examples of a Kei automobile. Mazda and Suzuki mixed their powers and created the Autozam model. Whereas Suzuki supplied the engine, Mazda engineered and constructed the physique. This match-made-in-heaven created what we now know because the AZ-1. Though it was solely produced for 2 years (Oct. 1992-1994), the AZ-1 has gained over fans’ minds and hearts the world over. It got here powered by a 657cc turbocharged engine that produced a complete of 64hp and 63 ft. lbs. of torque, on day. Nonetheless, the AZ-1 is rather more than simply numbers. Amazingly sufficient, even McLaren was impressed by this tiny automobile. That’s proper, the McLaren F1 received its concept for gullwing doorways from the AZ-1. We wager you didn’t know that!

The unique concept for the little AZ-1 goes all the best way again to 1985, when Suzuki was engaged on mass- prototype just like the AZ-1. That plan was scrapped in favor of the roadster mission that later grew to become referred to as the Cappuccino. Mazda however, launched their model in 1989 known as the AZ-550. This pre-production mannequin absolutely met all of the kei automobile necessities, which said that the automobiles engine should be beneath 660cc and the size shouldn’t be higher than 126 inches.

Professionals and Cons


  • Distinctive gull-wing doorways
  • Extraordinarily uncommon
  • Extraordinarily enjoyable to drive
  • Rear-mounted engine offers glorious dealing with
  • Might be simply upgraded to provide extra energy


  • Uncommon so alternative elements could also be costlier
  • Turning into a collectors automobile so value is rising
  • Extraordinarily restricted storage
  • Doesn’t match bigger drivers

Widespread Points

Apart from the plain problems with it being a tiny automobile, we’re going to go over among the different points that AZ-1 house owners have stumbled throughout over time. Like beforehand said, bigger individuals may need a tough time getting in, however an excellent more durable time getting out. The opposite draw back individuals complained abut was that the pedals are very shut collectively, even for some with small ft. Along with that, the gears had been arduous to interact and felt “clunky” at instances. So far as the engine goes, not many complaints have been heard. In any case, it’s made by Suzuki. Within the occasion of one thing going flawed, spare elements generally is a nightmare to come back throughout, even in Japan. These automobiles had been inbuilt very low numbers and for a restricted time period, so it isn’t like there are a whole lot of them sitting someplace in a Japanese salvage yard.

Common Costs

At present, the common value appears hover just below $20,000. As a result of shortage of those little automobiles, we anticipate that the value will proceed to shoot up. There are some examples that may be had for as little as $10,000, however we extremely advocate in opposition to these. Now we have chosen two fashions to point out you every finish of the spectrum.

View all Mazda AZ-1 vehicles listed for sale.

Comparable Options

Though Kei automobiles could also be uncommon right here in North America, they’re fairly widespread in Japan. At one level, over 40% of the automobiles bought there have been Kei automobiles in a single type or one other. Beneath are some fashions that intently resemble the AZ-1.

Fashions and Specs

via top gear

Because the AZ-1 was solely produced for two
years, we’re going to focus extra on the particular editions made somewhat than the
totally different generations.


The Mazdaspeed model of the AZ-1 was
designed to showcase all of the obtainable elements and choices for this mannequin. For
instance, the physique equipment featured redesigned hood, new spoiler, and rear wing.
There was an extra possibility for advert all-red or blue inside which was not
obtainable on the common manufacturing fashions. Moreover, there have been quite a few mechanical
upgrades obtainable on the Mazdaspeed model. These included a ceramic muffler,
shock absorbers with sport springs, obtainable entrance and rear strut bars,
mechanical LSD, and so forth.

M2 1015:

In 1994 there M2 Inc, a subsidiary of Mazda
created the M2 1015 model. Essentially the most notable characteristic of this particular version
was the best way they built-in the entrance fog lights into the bonnet, as well as
to the brand new entrance bumper and rear spoiler. There have been three uniform colours to
select from. These colours included white, black, and silver. Sadly, out of the
50 particular editions produced, the producer solely offered about half of them. To
recoup among the cash, M2 offered the elements individually from the remaining

Suzuki Cara:

There have been solely slight beauty adjustments to the Cara, however probably the most noticeable adjustments had been the added fog lights. View Suzuki Cara listings for sale.

M2 1014:

The 1014 was a one-off automobile particularly constructed for the 1993 Tokyo Motor Present that took some design components from the well-known Lamborghini Cheetah of the time. It was a rally model of the AZ-1 with options like a pair of removable spotlights on the hood. Furthermore, the glass roof discovered on the common AZ-1’s was now constructed from plastic and absolutely removable.


Why are they known as Kei automobiles?

They Title Kei automobiles comes from the Japanese phrase that roughly translated into “light-weight automobile”.

Why are Kei automobiles so well-liked in Japan?

After WWII, cash was tight in Japan. That is additionally the time that the primary Kei automobiles began to look. Not solely are the automobiles cheaper however the working prices (insurance coverage, tires, gas, and so on) are considerably cheaper with a smaller automobile.

What’s the largest engine you may get in a Kei automobile?

As a result of strict laws, the utmost engine should be 660cc or beneath to qualify as a Kei automobile.

Can the Autozam AZ-1 be legally imported to the US?

Sure! Fortunately the AZ-1 simply rolled over 25 years outdated, this making them legal to import stateside.

Can I slot in an AZ-1?

We don’t advocate that anybody over 6-feet tall tries to slot in this small automobile. Though it’s attainable, it will not be very pleasant or comfy.

Is the AZ-1 collector’s merchandise?

We predict so. Because of the truth that the AZ-1 was produced for under a few years in restricted numbers, we’re positive this automobile will develop into a future basic, thus solely going up in worth.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autozam_AZ-1
  • https://www.topgear.com/car-news/big-reads/driving-the-autozam-az-1-japan-top-gear
  • https://www.automoblog.web/2014/12/02/strange-crazy-cars/
  • https://driving.ca/mazda/auto-news/information/every-day-is-o-kei-in-the-autozam-az-1-microcar
  • https://www.croooober.com/en/weblog/cars-of-japan/k-cars-all-you-need-to-know-about-them

How one can Import a Mazda Autozam AZ-1

Learn our final information, How to Import a Car from Japan.

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