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kei1

C a r s ]

The Saloon Car in the early years was referred to as a Sedan (セダン).  American English has had a big influence on the Japanese language, and still does today.  The Japanese language has different levels of politeness as does the word for car.  The correct Japanese for motor-car in order of politeness isjidōsha‘ (自動車) lit: self-propelled vehicle,  less polite iskuruma‘ (車) lit: vehicle or cart and least polite (rough) iskaa‘ (カー).  Oddly, a Volkswagon Beatle is considered a sports car in Japan !!

The Kei car or ‘K-car’/’kei jidōsha’ (軽自動車) lit: light car has preferential rates of tax and insurance and in rural areas they are exempt from the requirement to provide proof of a parking place.  In towns and cities, some roads are marked for kei-cars only, as well as certain car parks.  After World War II, the kei car was born as the public car in a government directive similar to that of the Volkswagon Beatle, in order to provide a cheap mass produced peoples car.  The engineers of the Nakajima Aircraft Company (中島 飛行機 株式会社) developed the first truly successful kei-car, the Suzuki Suzulight of 1955.  The Subaru 360 was next to follow suit in 1958.

1955 SuzulightSuzuki Suzulight 01.jpg  1958 Subaru 3601958 Subaru 360 01.jpg

1960 Mazda 360

An estate-car, takes the American use of station wagon ‘suteeshon-wagon‘ (ステーション·ワゴン) or more commonly just ‘wagon‘ (ワゴン) which is confusing to the English as a wagon is a  truck in England.  A Hatchback is a ‘hacchibakku‘ (ハッチ·バック), a Truck is a ‘torakku‘ (トラック), a Pickup is a ‘kogata torakku‘ (小型トラック) or more simply a ‘pikkuappu(ピックアップ), a Light Truck is a ‘kei-tora(軽トラ), a Light Van is a ‘raito ban(ライト バン).  Confusingly, the Suzuki Jimny 4×4 is classed as a commercial vehicle.

1986 Daihatsu Leeza 550 cc: Daihatsu Leeza.JPG

Cars got bigger in the 1980’s when regulations were changed and 550cc engines were now the norm.  The 1986 Daihatsu Leeza (above) is a bit of an anomaly in as much as it had coupé lines, was replaced by a saloon, and was technically a commercial vehicle.  At that time, if a vehicle had strapping points and temporary rear seats, it could be classed as a kei-class commercial.  When the regulations changed again to 660cc, the Leeza morphed again into a convertible and then a pseudo sports !!

The Leeza Spyder 660 cc: 

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[ The Cars covered in this section include . . . ]

cc135

The Daihatsu Leeza; Max; Mira & Move ]

m15

[ The Honda Life; ‘N’ Series & the Honda ‘Z’ ]

m20

[ The Mazda Carol ]

kc154

[ The Mitsubishi 500 / 600 & Minica ]

my100

[ The Subaru Rex ]

ss46

                      [ The Suzuki Alto; Cervo & Wagon R ]

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