"Kei – Cars – Fanzine"

B e g i n n i n g s ]

Cars and Companies that paved the way for the first generation of kei-cars, through personal endeavour and the determination of war torn companies to find new ways of surviving after World War II are listed below.  Undoubtedly there were many others who fell by the wayside on the way there.


kc50 1943: The Aichi Machine Industry co.ltd (愛知 機械 工業 株式 会社) “aichi-kikai-kōgyō-kabushiki-kaisha“

In 1943, CONY (コ二―) cars were built by the Aichi Machine Industry Company in Nagoya.  The company was founded in 1943 and in 1965 it became part of the Nissan group.  Initial production was of 3-wheeler trucks.

’55 Cony AA-25F: cc21  Cony AA27  ’56 : kc46

In 1962 the first Cony Guppy a small pickup truck was produced:

The Cony Guppy AE82:  kc71kc30kc73

A Sports coupé based on the Guppy pickup was also produced: kc38

kc77 1960 Cony 360 AF3 Pickup  334cc: kc64

The Cony Pickup was also sold as the “Cony Giant” (コ二―·ヂャイアント)

The 1961 Cony 360 AF11 Truck: kc67

The 1961 CONY  360  Wagon & Light Van: kc93 kc94


kc53 1947-1954: ” The Auto Sandal Motor Company ”

(日本 オート·サンダル 自動車) “nihon-ōtosandaru-jidōsha“

The Auto Sandal (オート·サンダル) was made from 1947-54 by the Nakano Automobile Kogyo Co.Ltd.  Approximately 196 cars were thought to have been produced.  Sandal refers to a type of shoe or flip-flop.  Just after World War ll production started in Nagoya, under the auspices of a Mr Nakano Yoshimishiro.  The company Nakano Automotive  later changed its name to Auto Sandal.

Mr Nakano is pictured standing behind his prototype: kc90

Models: FN & FS (both 1952) 349cc; FN-L (1953) 349cc; Roly (1954) 238cc.

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The last picture is a pre-production version.  All 3 of the remaining Auto Sandal cars are in working order and are in Kurume, Japan in the Sepia Collection.

The Auto Sandal friction drive: kc92


 m6 1951: The Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd Related image

(ダイハツ 工業株式会社) “daihatsu-kōgyō-kabushiki-kaisha”

Daihatsu is the oldest Japanese car manufacturer, mostly known for its range of smaller models and off-road vehicles and its earlier 3-wheelers.

1951 Daihatsu Bee (ダイハツ·ビー): bee1 (About 300 were made)

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The Daihatsu Bee was classed as a 2-door coupé, rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive, microcar.  Power was provided by the 540cc OHV air-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke H2 petrol engine.  It was the first car in Japan with a horizontally opposed engine and was adapted from one of Daihatsu’s 3-wheeled delivery trucks.

Image result for computer games clipart  The “Daihatsu Bee” in Computer Games:

The Daihatsu Bee in Choro Q HG 4 (Choro Q) 2003:   Daihatsu Bee in Asphalt: Urban GT 2004: 

1957-72 Daihatsu Midget 1st Generation: kc39 (3-wheeler)


kc291914: The Kaishinsha Motor Works

The Kaishinsha Motorcar Works was founded in 1914, and made the first cars using the Datsun (ダットサン) name.  The “D” in the company acronym “DAT” was from “Den” after one of the founders’  Den Kenjiro.  Later changed to “Datsun”, the company was acquired by the Nissan zaibatsu (financial conglomerate) in the 1930’s.

Datsun  made just 100 units of the 1965 Datsun Baby (ダットサン·ベビー) 2-seater coupé in 1965, it was based on the Aichi Company’s Cony Guppy.  With 4-wheel independent suspension, front double wishbones and a 200cc motor, it was made just for children to drive.  The car could only be driven at “Children’s Country” (子供の国) “kodomo no kuni“, an amusement park in Yokohama.  The top speed was limited to just 30kph (18mph).  A bumper-car like skirt surrounded the lower edges of the car.

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Transmissions were automatic, supplied by Okamura Corporation, the firm that built Japan’s first torque converter, and the steering wheel had a spring-actuated self-turning feature.  About 300,000 children drove the cars and they remained in use until 1973.

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When the ride finally closed, the 100th car was displayed in the amusement park. Forty years later, a team of Nissan employees “The Nissan Restoration Club” took it upon themselves to bring it back to life.  The project was undertaken to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kodomo no Kuni and it takes the team, which was founded in 2006  about 9 months to finish each car.


my31H O P E    S T A R

The Hope Motor Company (ホ―プ自動車 株式会社) “hōpu-jidōsha-kabushiki-kaisha“was founded in April 1952 by Ono Yoshisada and had its headquarters in Taitō, Tōkyō, using the brand name Hopestar.   The company existed until 1974, when its licenses were sold to Suzuki.  Production finally ceased in April 1974, ending production of the Hopestar models that were still being made alongside the Suzuki brands.

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The 3-wheelers sold in their thousands and were perfect for Japanese roads.

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The 1953-67 Hope Star ON 360.  Only about 15 ON 360’s were produced, it was a mini-jeep powered by a Mitsubishi 356cc 2-stroke engine.  It was sold to Suzuki and eventually became the Suzuki Jimny.

Other models include the Hope-Star SM (1954-61);  Hope-Star SY (1957-62);  Hope-Star ST (1960-74);  Hope-Star OT (1961-74);  Hope-Star OV (1962-74);  and the Hope-Star ON 4WD (1967-70).

The 1960 Unicar NT: kc105 my37 kc97

 The Unicar NT was produced from 1960 until 1974 and was advertised as being a pickup in the coupé style, with the slogan: “The People Has Many Dreams as To The light Vehicle!!


Iso IsettaIsoRivoltalogo.jpg(イソ·イセッタ)

[Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A.]

The 1954 Iso Isetta light 4-wheeler class bubble car was sold in Japan.  The 236cc mid engined layout 2-stroke developed 9.5 hp (14.4 cu in) had a top speed of 85 kph (53 mph) and took 31 secs to reach 30 mph !!  The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out to allow better access to the single bench seat through the front facing door.  It was famously branded a BMW in Germany.  This early model had eight windows similar to the Heikel / Trojan and a canvas roof.  In 1955, it was the world’s first production car to achieve 94 mpg.

Bonhams - The Paris Sale 2012 - Iso Isetta - 1953 - 013.jpg Image result for iso isetta Related image Related image

Length : 2,250 mm     Width : 1,340 mm

Weight : 330 kg     Transmission : 4-spd


njjjNJ Motor Car Works (日本自動車工業株式会社) my42

The Nippon Jidōsha Co. of Kawaguchi, Saitama-ken,  produced cars from 1954-55 (Shōwa 29-30*).  *Japanese years are named after the Emperor of the time.

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Only 85 of the model NJ 号 (nj-go) of 1954 were produced, it was a rear-engined 358cc OHV air-cooled 2-stroke developing 12ps @ 4000 rpm.  Being impressed by the MG logo in Britain, it was decided to call the car an NJ (Nippon Jidosha).  The design proved popular as it resembled the little cars used in amusement car rides.

The Nikkei Taro was previously called NJ (see above).

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They could be driven on a scooter licence, a big selling point, as on the advert (above far right).


kc131 (Suminoe kc123 Manufacturing) kc132

 kc122  The 1955 Flying Feather FF-2 350cc  kc125


Mr 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.

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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): 


[ S U Z U L I G H T ]  

(October 1955 – 1969)

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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).

[ The Asahi Beer Company’s 1961 Suzulight Carry ]


” T H E   F U J I   M O T O R   C O M P A N Y “

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The 1957 Fuji Cabin model 5A is more like a scooter with a roof than a car.  The unrestored example above is a prototype.  With an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight, it was made by the “Fuji Jidōsha” company.

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 Company 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 the word “Gas” (petrol) and the Japanese for electricity “Den” (power).



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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