***** (K|C|F) *****
O n K e i – C a r s F a n z i n e . . .
#3 The 1960 – 1966 Mazda R360 Coupé !!
When the kei-car regulations came into force in the 1960’s, manufacturers of the day were in a race to supply the latest utilitarian vehicles to an eager public but not so Mazda !! To the surprise of just about everyone, Mazda came up with the beautifully designed R360 Coupé.
Kenichi Yamamoto ( 1922 – 2017 ) & the R360 engine
Spearheaded by Kenichi Yamamoto, father of the Mazda rotary engine, the R360 4-stroke engine was unique at the time when all other kei-cars were 2-strokes. The rear-mounted air-cooled aluminium V-twin engine along with other weight saving measures made for a very lightweight car of only 870 lbs. Performance was only a meagre 16 hp but in such a light car it was considered quite adequate for the time with a top speed of 45 mph. Sales went through the roof, taking a 64.8 percent of Japan’s private car market at its peak.
K e i | C a r s | F a n z i n e
#2 The 1997 Y a m a h a A m i !!
No, it’s not a keyboard it’s a kei-car with a difference !!
The Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. ( ヤマハ 発動機 株式 会社 ) yamaha-hatsudōki-kabushiki-gaisha.
The 1997 Yamaha Mobilemates Ami is not a Ferrari F40, but a heavily modified Daihatsu Opti. The doors and front bumper are standard Opti, but the arched roof and rear end with dummy air intakes and a huge spoiler are the stand out bits. The Daihatsu 659cc DOHC 12-valve 55 HP engine fell somewhat short of the F40’s 2,936cc 471 HP !!
YM Mobilemates, is a branch of the Yamaha Motor Company. The initial manufacturing target was 600 cars, but only 3 cars were actually ordered, making it one of the rarest kei-cars ever. This was mainly due to the astronomical cost of ￥2,545,000 ( over £17,000 ), which equated to the cost of 3 normal kei-cars at the time !! The odd looks may also have had something to do with it !! The Ami was only sold in the Tōkyō area via an event ticket supplier called ‘Ticket Pia‘ !!
#1 The Honda Vamos Hobio Travel Dog !!!
The Honda Vamos Hobio Travel Dog introduced on the 31st January 2008 is a specially equipped version of Honda’s Vamos Hobio kei-truck catering specially to dog owners !! While the concept has some merit, the vehicle was only sold for a brief period of time and remains memorable only because of its unusual name.
The Hobio, is a 5-door hatchback kei-truck ‘keitora’ and is available in either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
The Honda 660cc straight-3 SOHC engine is midship mounted which improves the centre of gravity.
A turbocharger is offered as an optional extra. The 44 hp engine goes from 0-60 mph in 25.7 seconds !! Put your foot down and you’ll reach a top speed of 73 mph !!
Large pets can ride in a dog hammock that clips to the front driver’s seat at one end and the top of the rear seat at the other.
Smaller pooches can enjoy the security and comfort of a ‘Pet Carry‘ – an actual ‘doggy bag‘ for dogs !!
The interior surfaces are coated in easy wipe anti-bacterial vinyl and the floor mats feature a ‘paw-print‘ motif.
However, the dog-friendly trim and accessories proved too expensive when offered in what is normally a low-priced vehicle, thus it only stayed on Honda Japan’s product list for a very short time !!