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Beginings (Part 2)

(In more or less chronological order)

TERUYAN  (テルヤン)  Teruyan


After 5-years of research, the 1954年 Teruyan SK-36 Coupé / Pickup came to fruition.  It was manufactured at Shinagawa-ku in Tōkyō.  The 360 cc Coupé weighed in at 350kgs and the power output was 13.6 ps @ 6,000 rpm.  The suspension was coil sprung and the top speed was 80 kph (50 mph).


kc131 (Suminoe kc123 Manufacturing) kc132

 kc122  The 1955 Flying Feather FF-2 350cc  kc125

 kc124Mr Katayama (aka Mr K) at the 2002 Z Car Convention in Texas.  The Flying Feather (フラインぐ·フェザー) was conceived by ‘Yutaka Katayama‘ and designed by ‘Ryuichi Tomiya‘ in the late 1940’s.  A prototype was built with a 200cc engine (built in-house by Nissan in 1951). Only 50 were made. From a technical point of view the Flying Feather left a lot to be desired.  For example, the wheels came from a motorbike and the roof construction was inspired by the Citroën 2CV.  With drum brakes only on the rear wheels the Flying Feather either doesn’t brake at all or stops all at once.   It is the predecessor of the modern kei car.

kc126 kc127 kc128 kc130

Mr. Katayama, had a dream from childhood to build a very light weight car (mostly out of motorcycle parts).  It was to have a combination of good performance and economy (Air Cooled, 12.5 HP, Twin Cylinder), rather like a gull in flight.  Thus the name,”Flying Feather”.  In the late 40’s, Mr. K discussed this concept with Ryuichi Tomiya and a sketch was completed instantly.  Ryuichi Tomiya had been in charge of body design at Nissan Motors Ltd. before WWII and he was considered to be a genius, later to be called the Leonardo da Vinci of Japan‘.

The rare Flying  Feather 1:43 ScaleModel by ROCO of Japan:

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Only 20 were handbuilt in resin.  The wire motorcycle wheels are a work of art.

Image result for computer games clipart  The ‘Suminoe Flying Feather‘ in Computer Games:

The Flying Feather in Choro Q Wonderful !! (1999): 


ORIENT  (オリエント)  Orient


The 1955年 Orient was made at Ōsaka in the Prefecture of the same name in the Kansai region of Japan.  The shaft driven 3-wheeler 2-seater pickup truck with no doors was of simple design with handlebar steering and was very easy to drive.



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(October 1955 – 1969)

Suzulight was the brand used for the kei cars built by the Suzuki Motor Corporation from 1955 to 1969 at Kosai, Hamanagun in Shizuoka.  They were Suzuki’s first entry into automotive manufacturing, having previously only produced motorcycles.  The Suzulight sedans and light vans all had transversely mounted engines and front-wheel drive and were inspired by the Lloyd LP400.  The engines were from the motorcycle industry.  The Suzulight Carry trucks and vans were the first to use the Carry label, still around today.

The body styles and pricing were as follows:  Apr ’55 Suzulight SF (suzuki 4-wheel car);  Oct ’55 Suzulight SS (sedan) @ ¥420,000 (£3,282), only 43 were built / Suzulight SL (light van) @ ¥390,000 (£2,563) / Suzulight SP (pickup) @ ¥370,000 (£2,431);  Nov ’55 Suzulight SD (delivery van); Oct ’59 Suzulight TL (van) @ ¥398,000 (£2,616);  ’61 Suzulight TL ll;  Mar ’62 Suzulight TL lll / Suzulight TLA (passenger car).


 BABY  CONDOR (ベビー·コンドル) Baby Condor


The 1956年 Baby Condor chain driven 2-seater microcar coupé.  The left-hand-drive coupé bodywork was made of fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP).




The Tōkyō Gas & Electric Manufacturing Co. was formed when the former Hitachi Aviation Company merged with the Fuji Automobile Company a few years after the end of World War 2.  The Fuji Company here is not related in any way to Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.  The Company hired the former president of Nissan and he undertook the manufacture of small motors for motorcycles and scooters, using the Gasuden name.  It was decided to build a complete vehicle, and Ryuichi Tomiya the renowned designer (see: Flying Feather) was commissioned to design a covered scooter.  He came up with the the futuristic looking Fuji Cabin.  It was more like a scooter with a roof than a car.

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The unrestored 1957 Fuji Cabin model 5A (above) is a prototype.  With an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight, it was made by the ‘Fuji Jidōsha‘ company.

fuj9 The 1957 Fuji Cabin model 5A my58

The Fuji Cabin had an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight it was powered by a Gasuden 5.5 hp single-cylinder 2-stroke engine and featured some novel engineering.  It was a 3-wheeler with independent suspension on the front wheels, and a swinging arm and coil strut at the back.  The body was a monocoque design made of insulated fibreglass.  There was only one door on the nearside, but at least one was built with two doors.  It had a tube running down the centre of the floor to bring cool air to the rear-mounted motor which also helped make the body rigid.  Despite all this, it was said to be pretty unstable at speed.  That, combined with poorly made bodies due to Gasuden having zero experience with fiberglass, and an extremely cramped interior even for Japanese people, it made the project something of a disaster.  Only 85 Fuji Cabins were built between 1954 and 1955, with only 2 or 3 surviving today.  A few years later, Gasuden, now using their own name for some reason, decided to try again with another innovative design.

fuj4 T h e  1 9 6 1  G a s u d e n   M i n i v a n fuj1

The Fuji Motor Co. entered the Gasuden Minivan 360 M36 at the 1961 Tōkyō Motor Show and it is arguably the first vehicle ever to be termed a Minivan‘.  The name ‘Gasuden‘ meaning gas powered, comes from ‘Gas’ (petrol) and the Japanese for electricity ‘Den’ (power).  The 356cc engine was mounted underneath the floor and had a wheelbase of 188 cm and a rigid rear axle with leaf springs.  After the failure of the Fuji Cabin, Gasuden went conservative with the suspension, it had leaf springs all around but with a good weight distribution, it was said to drive very well.  As one of only two pint-sized vans at the Motor Show in 1961, it garnered a lot of attention, but Gasuden hadn’t fully recovered from the Fuji Cabin fiasco, and lacked the funds to put the Minivan into production.  A year later, the company was taken over by Komatsu the giant bulldozer manufacturer.  4 or 5 prototypes were built, but non of them are known to have survived.

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Incidentally, there was also a ‘Gasuden Koken‘, which was a long-range research aeroplane.  It was built by the confusingly named Tokyo Gas and Electric Industry, the company that later became ‘Hino’ the bus and truck division of the Toyota Motor Corporation.  Somehow, they also have a connection to the Gasuden of Minivan fame in the tangled mess of postwar Japanese reorganisation.  War effort companies suddenly had to manufacture new products often with no previous experiance in that field.  However, I have not been able to gather any more information on this topic.  Help needed !! 

Image result for computer games clipart  The ‘Fuji Cabin‘ in Computer Games:

1955 Fuji Cabin in Choro Q HG 4 (Choro Q) 2003: 

Recently, a Fuji Cabin sold for $110,000 (£86,000) at auction !!


YANASE  (ヤナセ/簗瀬) Yanase

The 1957 Yanase YX360:  (’57年 ヤナセ YX360)

Related image 芦ノ湖畔に停車中のヤナセYX360(1957年)/ボディはすべて板金職人による叩き出し

The 1957 Yanase codenamed the YX360, has a twin-cylinder 360cc kei-class engine.  It is a 2-door 4-seater car with smooth rounded coupé styling.


my100 (スバル) Subaru

Subaru is the automobile manufacturing division of Japanese transportation conglomerate Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the 22nd largest automaker by production worldwide in 2012.  Nissan acquired a 20.4% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent company, in 1968.

Subaru 360 History (1958 – 1971)

March 1958 Subaru 360 (Sedan) launched:

image emblem3画像 cc59

August 1959 Subaru 360 (Convertible) launched:

image cc61 cc116

December 1959 Subaru 360 (Commercial) launched:

SUBARU / 360 Commercial:   image

October 1960 Subaru 450 (Sedan) launched:

image image image

Image result for computer games clipart  The ‘Subaru 360‘ in Computer Games:

Subaru 360: 

The Subaru R-2 (1969 – 1972)

(’70 early air-cooledSubarR-2.jpg R-2 cc64 (’72 water-cooled)

Image result for computer games clipart  The ‘Subaru R-2’ in Computer Games:

1970 Subaru R-2 in Taiho Shichauzo: You’re Under Arrest, 2001: 

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    (1961-1966) Subaru Sambar Truck 1G.

’66 Sambar 2G: sam13sam14 ’73 Sambar 3G: sam18


YANMAR (ヤンマー) Yanmar

The 1958 Yanmar KT Pony (1958年 ヤンマー KT ポニー)

The 1958-1959年 Yanmar KT Pony Diesel Pickup Truck was built by the Yanmar diesel engine manufacturing company.  Development first began in 1956, the early engines developing 5.3 hp.  The 249cc diesel engine was rear-mounted into a rudimentary looking pickup truck with canvas doors.  The engine could be used independantly of the truck by farmers out in the fields, which was quite an innovation at the time.


There were 4-KT versions, 2-prototypes, and 2-production models built.  The KT was replaced by the FM nicknamed the Pony which was basically an updated KT with a 308cc engine.  This model also had independent use of the engine when stationary.  The FM was replaced by the V-twin KYT.


In January 1960 the Yanmar Pony KTY diesel (KTY ディーゼル) appeared, this time in a more modern cab-over design.  The 356cc OHV air-cooled diesel V-twin engine was now positioned just behind the cab and produced 9 hp at 3,600 rpm and could carry up to 300 kgs in weight.  By January 1962, 650 Ponies had been produced, at least a single example survives today at the Yanmar Museum in Nagahama in Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県長浜市三和町6-50).

Yanmar5  Image result for 1958 yanmar kt diesel

The Pony was withdrawn from production due to the limitations of its diesel engine at the time.  The Yanmar company however, is a successful business still going today and views the Pony as that of a pioneering presence to the modern day lorry !!


Musashi  Paddle (ムサシ·パドル ) Musashi Paddle


The 1959年 Musashi Paddle 360 cc Coupé/Pickup Truck was manufactured in Tōkyō by a company which normally made 3-wheelers.  The front engined 2-seater was simple in design with clean lines and was fitted with roof and side rails as standard.


Komatsu  (コマツ) Komatsu

[Komatsu Ltd.]

Komatsu Nōminsha:  (コマツ 農民車)

The 1960年 Komatsu Nōmin-sha is an interesting vehicle.  It was made by Komatsu the bulldozer and tractor manufacturer.  The open jeep style vehicle had a centrally mounted single seat and steering column.  The driver’s seat sits directly over the engine, behind which there is seating for 2 people.

Built specially for the farming community, the tyre arrangements front and rear were very tractor like.  The vehicle had towing ability and I believe a power take off was available when the vehicle was at rest.  With a top speed of only 15 kph (9 mph) it was not suitable for use on the highways of Japan.



The Nihon Nainenki Company was formed in 1936 and primarily made small scout cars for the Japanese military .  It made the Kurogane Baby (くろがね·ベビー) kei truck in the early 1960’s.  The 1961 Kurogane Baby KB360V:

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my90  The 1962 Kurogane Baby KB360, was a 4-seater 4-door sedan, mid-engined with rear-wheel drive, petrol, in-line 2-cylinder, air-cooled, 356cc 21.6 cu in 2-stroke.  Maximum power 18ps @ 4,500rpm, maximum torque 24ft-lbs @ 3,400rpm.  Gearbox: 4M; Wheelbase: 68.9”; Front track: 42.1”; Rear track: 41.3”; Length: 117.9”; Width: 50.4”; Height: 64.8”; Weight: 1058lbs; Max. speed: 40mph.my91

The Commercial Canvas Back: my92 my88 my89

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