***** (K|C|F) *****

  Kei-cars of the 20th Century ]

T H E  Related image   Related image

(The Minor Players)


(In Alpabetical Order)

The Makes: Auto Sandal;  Autozam;  Baby Condor;  Cony;  Daihatsu;  Datsun;  Dynastar;  Fuji Cabin;  Gasuden;  Giant;  Hope Star;  Iso Isetta;  Kokuei;  Komatsu Nōminsha;  Kunomack;  Kurogane Baby;  Mitsuoka;  Musashi Paddle;  N J;  Nikkei Tarō;  Nobel/Novel;  Orient;  Pilot;  Right Pony;  Smart;  Spark;  Suminoe;  Suzulight;  Tachihi;  Teruyan;  Toyo Light;  Tuten;  Yamaha;  Yanase;  Yanmar.


* * * AUTO  SANDAL  kc53  (オート·サンダル) Auto Sandal * * *

[Nakano Automobile Kogyo Co.Ltd.]


Mr Nakano (above) the company founder is pictured with the first prototype.

(1952) 349cc FN, FS & FN-Lkc78 kc88 (1954) 238cc Rolykc48 

The Auto Sandal:  kc92  (friction drive)

Sandal refers to a type of shoe or flip-flop.  All 3 of the last remaining Auto Sandal cars are in working order and are in Kurume, Japan in the Sepia Collection of Mr Hideki Matsuzaki.


* * * m1  AUTOZAM (アウトザム) Autozam  Related image * * *

[Mazda Motor Corporation]

The Autozam marque specialised in small cars and kei-cars with many models being re-badged Suzuki’s.

m2 (1990-94) ‘Carol is a rebadged Suzuki Alto‘ Image result for autozam carol

m3 (1990-94) ‘Scrum is  a rebadged Suzuki Carry‘ kt4

m4 (1992-95) ‘AZ-1 mid-engined sports coupé‘ abc1

An offshoot of the giant Mazda Corporation, Autozam was formed in the late 1980’s and ended in the mid 1990’s due to adverse economic conditions.


* * * B A B Y   C O N D O R (ベビー·コンドル) Baby Condor * * *


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


* * * kc50  (コ二―)  Cony * * *

Aichi Machine Industry co.ltd.]

(1955) Cony AA-25Fcc21 & the (1956) Cony AA27kc46 cc20

(1960) Cony 360 AF3Giant‘: kc64 kc77cc25

(1961) Cony 360 AF11 Truck & Vankc67 Related image

(1961) Cony 360 Wagon & Light Vankc93 kc94

(1962) Guppy AE82 Pickup & Coupékc30 kc73 kc38

(1962) Cony AF8 pickupkc76 Coach & VanJaponska minimalista cony4

The Cony company was founded in 1943 and in 1965 it became part of the Nissan group.  Initial production was of 3-wheeler trucks.


* * * Related image   DAIHATSU (ダイハツ) Daihatsu   cc135 * * *

[ Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. ]

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)

bee2 bee3 m28 bee4

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.

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


* * * Related imageDATSUN (ダットサン)  Datsun kc29 * * *

[Kaishinsha Motor Works]

Datsun founder:  Thumbnail for version as of 08:27, 6 December 2009  ‘Den Kenjiro

The Kaishinsha Motorcar Works was founded in 1914, and made the first cars using the Datsun name.  The ‘D’ in the company acronym ‘DAT’ was from ‘Den’ after one of the founders  Den Kenjiro and was later changed to Datsun.

my21 my28 (1965) Datsun Baby 200cc Coupé my29 my25

The Datson company was acquired by the Nissan zaibatsu (financial conglomerate) in the 1930’s.


* * * D Y N A S T A R    (ダイナスター)  Dynastar * * *

[Ōmyiya Fuji Sangyō Co. Ltd.]

(1953) Dynastar T7 SV single 198cc (1954): 


* * * my57 FUJI  CABIN (フジ·カビン) Fuji Cabin zen31 * * *

[Fuji Motor Corporation]

Only 85 Fuji Cabins were built between 1954 & 1955, with only 2 or 3 surviving today.

my58 (1955) Fuji Cabin 5A (aka Metro 125Related image Related image Related image Related image

The Fuji Cabin is more like a scooter with a roof than a car.  It has an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight.  In America, a Fuji Cabin sold at auction for $110,000 (not even a runner !!).


* * * G A S U D E N    (ガスデン)  Gasuden * * *

[Fuji Motor Corporation]

 fuj4 (1961) ‘Gasuden Minivan (ミニバン) M60‘ 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.  A year later, the company was taken over by Komatsu the giant bulldozer manufacturer.


* * * G I A N T  (デャイアント)  Giant * * *

[Aichi Kigyo Co. Ltd.]

(1948) Giant AA3  (1951) Giant Coach (6-seater): 

(1951) Giant AA3 (デャイアント)AA3:   (OHV single 636cc 19hp)


* * * HOPESTAR my31 (ホ―プ·スター)  Hope Star * * *

[Hope Motor Co.]

The Hope Motor Company was founded in April 1952 by Ono Yoshisada, the company existed until 1974, when its licenses were sold to Suzuki.

my33 (1953-67) Hope Star ON 346cc 15hp 

kc99 my36 (1953-67) Hope Star ON 360 kc103 my34

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.

kc105  (1960-74) Hope Star Unicar NT cc30 kc97

The Unicar NT 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·エンジェー·イセッタ)  Iso Isetta * * *

[Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A.]

Related image Image result for iso isetta (1954) Iso Isetta 236cc Related image Bonhams - The Paris Sale 2012 - Iso Isetta - 1953 - 013.jpg

The Iso (little) Isetta was an Italian-designed microcar built under license in a number of countries, it was the top-selling single-cylinder car in the world at the time.


* * * K O K U E I  (コクエイ)  Kokuei * * *

[Kokuei Zoki Co. Ltd.]

(1950) Kokuei 346cc    Romance Car (4-passenger)


* * * 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 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.


* * * K U N O M A C K  (くのマック)  Kunomack * * *

[Kunomack Manufacturing Co. Ltd.]

 (1954) Kunomack 354cc (8.0hp


* * * KUROGANE kc129 (クロガネ)  Kurogane * * *

[Nihon Nainenki Co.]

my81my83 (1961) Kurogane Baby KB360V my82my84

The Nihon Nainenki Co. was formed in 1936 and primarily made small scout cars for the Japanese military.


* * * MITSUOKA   my48   (ミツオカ / 光岡)  Mitsuoka * * *

[ Mitsuoka Motors (光岡自動車) mitsuoka-jidōsha ]

Susumu Mitsuokapp38 Akio Mitsuokapp37

Susumu Mitsuokais the  company founder & Chairman, his vision is to create cars that expressed spirit and soul and share them with the world.  Akio Mitsuokais the current Representative Director & President.

It is a small company noted for building unique cars with unconventional styling, some of which imitate British vehicles of the 1950’s & 60’s.  It is primarily a coachbuilder, taking production cars and replacing various aspects of the bodywork with its own custom designs. Mitsuoka was recognised in 1996 as the 10th Japanese auto manufacturer to be registered in Japan since Honda in 1963.  It bases its current cars on Nissan and other Japanese car manufacturers.  It also has a retail outlet in England supplying a limited range of grey imports.

my61(1982-85) Bubu 50 Series 3-wheelers   my60 my62

In the early years, it produced many tiny vehicles like the BUBU Shuttle-50.

my71 (1996-99) Ray 1G is based on the Mazda Carol cc127

The 1st generation Mitsuoka Ray is a heavily modified Mazda Carol.  The car started out as a 3-door, however, in 2002 Mitsuoka changed it into a 5-door car.  The price ranges from ¥911,000 (£5,734) to ¥1,359,750 (£8,553).   Mitsuoka described the Ray as like a dignified and graceful flower.

mk2 (1998 – 2000) MC-1 & K1’s are mid-engined my63 my64

The MC-1 was marketed under the slogan Microcar for your life.

my65 The K-2 is based on the Messerschmitt TG500 my66

The K-3:my67 & the K-4in red, yellow, light & dark blue:  my70

my72 (1999 – 2000) Ray 2G is based on the Mazda Carol 

The Ray earned mixed reviews, earning a place on the Ugliest Cars in Britain list due to problems with quality and design.  However, it was voted the most attractive car in Australia !!

The Ray lll  my74my75 resembles the Riley Elf Mk 3

2010-2012 Mitsuoka Like The frontview of Mitsuoka Like (HA3WLDDB).JPG is a rebadged Mitsubishi MiEV electric car.


* * * 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.


* * * njjj NJ (エン·ジェー)  NJ   my42 * * *

[Nippon Jidōsha Co.]

kc80 my45 (1954) NJ 号 (NJ go) my44 my46

Only 85 of the model NJ 号 (nj-go) were produced.  Being impressed by the MG logo in Britain, it was decided to call the car an NJ (Nippon Jidosha).


* * * N I K K E I   T A R Ō  (ニッケイ·タロー)  Nikkei Tarō * * *

[Nihon Jidōsha Co.]

my49 kc121 (1957) Nikkei Tarō kc111 kc118

The Nikkei Tarō was previously called an ‘NJ’.  It could be driven on a scooter licence, a big selling point at the time.


* * * NŌBEL / NŌVEL (ノーベル号) Nōberu * * *

[ Nōbel/Nōvel Automobile Co. Tōkyō ]


The Nōbel/Nōvel was named after Dr.Yukawa the first doctor to get the Nobel prize in Japan.


* * * O R I E N T  (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.


* * * P I L O T  (パイロット)  Pilot * * *

[Yamamoto Manufacturing Co. Ltd.]

(1954) Pilot 3-wheeler:    (air-cooled OHV single 220cc 5.5hp)


* * * R I G H T   P O N Y  (ライト·ポニー)  Right Pony * * *

[Koei Kōgyō Co. Ltd.]

(1951) Right Pony  (1952) SV single 148cc

(1953)  Right Pony  (1954) 200 cc 


* * * my96 (スマート) ad22 * * *

(Daimler AG)

zen93  The 598cc Smart K  zen92

Smart offered a kei version of its Fortwo called the Smart K in Japan at Yanase dealerships from 2001-2004, with specially developed rear fenders, reduced tyre dimensions and track width, in order to conform to the current kei car standards at the time.


* * * S P A R K  (スパーク)  Spark * * *

[Nippon Tokushu Togyō Co. Ltd.]

(1954) Spark 3-wheeler (air-cooled SV single 249cc 9.0hp)


* * * kc122 SUMINOE  (スミノエ)  Suminoe kc123 * * *

[Suminoe Manufacturing]

Mr Katayama: kc124  (aka Mr K)

TheFlying Featherwas conceived byYutaka Katayamaand designed byRyuichi Tomiyain the late 1940’s.

 kc125 kc132 (1955) Suminoe Flying Feather FF-2 kc126 kc131

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, 2-cylinder), rather like a gull in flight, hence the name,Flying Feather.  It is the predecessor of the modern kei-car.


* * * Related image  SUZULIGHT (スズライト)  Suzulight  Related image * * *

[Suzuki Motor Corporation]

kc146 kc147 (1955-69) Suzulight ‘S’ series kc148 kc149

The 1955 Suzulight Sedan was the first production car to be made by Suzuki.

 (1964-69) Suzulight Carry Generations 1 & 2 1964 Suzuki Carry-Van 01.jpg SuzukiCarry2nd.jpg

Suzulight Carry trucks & vans were the first to use the Carry name & are still in use today.


* * * T A C H I H I  (タチひ)  Tachihi * * *

[Tachihi Kōgyō Co. Ltd.]

(1950) Tachihi TR6:    (SV single 148cc 3.1hp 3-passenger)


* * * T E R U Y A N  (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 360cc 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).


* * * T O Y O   L I G H T  (トヨ·ライト)  Toyo Light * * *

[Toyomotors Co. Ltd.]

(1953) Toyo Light  (air-cooled 2-stroke single 88.4cc 3.0hp)


* * * T U T E N  (ツーテン)  Tuten * * *

[Aichi Toyomotor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.]

(1954) Tuten 3-wheeler:    (air-cooled  OHV  single  208cc  7.2hp)


* * * six91  (ヤマハ)  Yamaha  Related image * * *

[ The Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. (ヤマハ 発動機 株式 会社) yamaha-hatsudōki-kabushiki-gaisha ]

cus27  cus29

(1997) Yamaha Ami (YM Mobilemates) Ferrari F40 !!   

YM Mobilemates, a branch of the Yamaha Motor Company, announced the production of the Ami, with a Ferrari F40 inspired design.  The Ami was actually a Daihatsu Opti variant with a dummy mid-engine design body.  It came with the same engine as the Opti’s SOHC or DOHC 12-valve 55 bhp engine.

Related image (1982) Yamaha PTX-1 commuter car 50cc single seater Image result for yamaha ptx-1

The Yamaha PTX-1 was shown at the 1983 Tōkyō Motor Show.


* * * YANASE  (ヤナセ/簗瀬) Yanase * * *

[Yanase Motor Company]

Related image (1957) Yanase YX360 coupé  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 Yanase YX360, 2-cylinder 360cc was a 2-door 4-seater kei-car with smooth rounded coupé styling.


* * * YANMAR (ヤンマー) Yanmar * * *

[Yanmar Motor Co.]

        ‘The Yanmar Co.    249cc Diesel Engine’

The engine could be used independantly of the truck by farmers out in the fields.

(1958-59) Yanmar KT DieselYanmar6 (pickup truck)

(1960) Yanmar KTY 356cc PonyYanmar5  Image result for 1958 yanmar kt diesel (cab-over design)

The 356cc OHV air-cooled V-twin diesel engine was now positioned just behind the cab and produced 9 hp @ 3,600 rpm.

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