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sam1Spotlight on …

Three-wheelers ]


(In chronological order)

Three-wheelers came about because of the need for a cheap means of transporting goods, merchandise and people, when Japan was at one of its poorest times financially, just after World War Two.  Initially, they were nothing more than converted motorbikes with a truck bed but became more sophisticated over time.  With the addition of doors, windscreens and even steering wheels, a more car like appearance began to emerge.  An example of this the “Tuk-Tuk” is still in use today throughout the world, mostly in the Far East.  It was only a matter of time before 4-wheelers came into use, most notably when the Japanese Government laid the foundations for the people’s car, which became the light kei-cars we have today.

1931 Mazda Mazdago: 

The Mazdago is a 3-wheeled open “truck” that was first produced in 1931 and resembled a motorcycle with an open wagon or truck bed.  It was steered with handlebars and powered with an air-cooled 1-cylinder engine/transmission combination unit.  It was sold by Mitsubishi in Japan.  It was considered to be the first autorickshaw.  Over the years, it would be produced in different variants and spawned other similar designs such as the Hopestar and Daihatsu Midget. It was also the first vehicle manufactured by Mazda.  It was replaced in the post-war era by an entire range of 3-wheeled Mazda trucks, such as the “K360”.

( Only vehicles of less than 660 cc are shown)

1948 Giant AA3: 

Manufacturer: Aichi Kigyo Co. Ltd. Nagoya.

L/W/H: 2950, 1400, 1180 mm; W/B 1900 mm.

Engine: water-cooled OHV single 90 x 100 636cc 18hp @ 3600rpm.
Max speed: 60 kph (37 mph) 3-speed + reverse, shaft drive.


Related image 1949 Honda B: 

Manufacturer: Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

Air-cooled 2-stroke single, 89cc 1.2hp @ 4500rpm, max speed 45km/h.


1950 Kokuei Romance Car:  (4-passenger)

Manufacturer: Kokuei Zoki Co. Ltd. Ōsaka.

L/W/H: 3000, 1300, 1520 mm; W/B 1850 mm; Weight 307 kg.

Engine: Air-cooled OHV single (by Meguro) 346cc 6.0hp @ 4000rpm.


1950 Tachihi TR6:  (3-passenger)

Manufacturer: Tachihi Kōgyō Co. Ltd. Tachikawa, Tōkyō (Form: the Tachikawa Airplane Co)

L/W/H: 2800, 1200, 1285 mm;  W/B 1735 mm;  Weight 307 kg.

Engine: air-cooled SV single 148cc 3.1hp;  Tyres 3.00 x 20.


1951 Giant:  (6-passenger coach)

Manufacturer: Shin Aichi Kigyō Co. Ltd. Nagoya (Formerly the Aichi Air plane Co)

L/W/H: 3800, Width 1555, Height 1750 mm;  W/B 2300 mm;  Weight 1000 kg.

Engine: water-cooled OHV single 636cc 19hp @ 3,600 rpm 3-speed + reverse, shaft-drive; Tyres: 5.00 x 16.


1951 Giant AA3: 

Manufacturer : Shin Aichi Kigyō Co. Ltd. Nagoya.

L/W/H: 3200, 1450, 1845 mm; W/B 2150 mm; Weight 620 kg; Loading 500 kg.

Engine: water cooled OHV single 636cc 19hp @ 3600 rpm.

3-speed + reverse shaft-drive; Tyres 5.00 x 16.


1951 Right Pony: 

Manufacturer: Koei Kōgyō. Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 148cc 3hp front-drive.


1951-58 Daihatsu PCA ‘Bee‘: 

1952:   1953:  (4-passenger)

Related image  Manufacturer: Hatsudoki Seizō Co. Ltd. Ōsaka.

L/W/H: 3950, 1480, 1450 mm; W/B 2400 mm; Weight 800 kg.

Engine: air-cooled OHV flat-twin 539cc 13.5hp 3-speed + reverse,

Rear-engine rear-drive; Tyres 5.00 x 16.

 bee2 m28 bee3 bee4


1952 Right Pony: 

Manufacturer: Koei Kogyō Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

L/W/H: 2910, 1260, 1180 mm; W/B 1780 mm; Loading 500kg.
Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 148cc 3hp front-drive.


1953 Dynastar T7:  

Manufacturer: Ōmyiya Fuji Sangyō Co. Ltd. Ōmiya.

L/W/H: 2290, 1150, 1000 mm; W/B 1520mm; Loading 150kg; Weight 200kg.
Engine: air-cooled SV single 198cc 4.5hp @ 3600rpm.


my33 1953 Hope Star O

Manufacturer: Hope Motor Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

L/W/H: 2820, 1220, 1070 mm; W/B : 1920mm; Weight : 350kg
Engine: Air cooled SV single 346cc 15hp @4500rpm; Loading 300kg.

The Hope Motor Company (ホ―プ自動車 株式会社), was founded in April 1952 by Ono Yoshisada and had its headquarters in Taitō, Tokyo, using the brand name Hopestar.  Its licenses were eventually sold to Suzuki in April 1974.


1953 Right Pony: 

Manufacturer: Koei Kogyō. Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

L/W/H: 2910, 1260, 1180 mm; WB 1780 mm; Weight 200kg
Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 175cc 5.2hp @ 5000rpm.
Max speed: 45km/h front-drive.


1953 Toyo Light: 

Manufacturer: Toyomotors Co. Ltd. Kariya.

L/W/H: 2100, 1220, 1070 mm; W/B 1300mm; Weight 110kg; Loading 150kg
Engine: air-cooled 2-stroke single, 88.4cc 3.0hp @ 4200rpm.


1954 Dynastar: 

Manufacturer: Ōmyiya Fuji Sangyō Co. Ltd. Ōmiya.

L/W/H: 2470, 1230, 1070 mm; Weight 200 kg.
Engine: air-cooled 198cc SV single type FE-11, 5hp @ 3600rpm.


1954 Kunomack:  

Manufacturer: Kunomack (くのマック) mfg. Co. Ltd. Nagoya.

L/W/H: 3000, 1270, 1130 mm; W/B : 2050mm.
Engine: air-cooled single 354cc 8.0hp/3000rpm.


1954 Pilot: 

Manufacturer: Yamamoto Mfg. Co. Ltd. Numazu.

W/B: 1592mm; Weight : 220kg; Loading : 300kg.
Engine: air-cooled OHV single 220cc 5.5hp @ 4000rpm 3-speed


1954 Right Pony:  

Manufacturer: Koei Kogyō Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

W/B: 1780 mm; Weight : 200 kg; Loading : 200 kg.
Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 200cc 5.2hp @ 5000rpm.
Max speed: 45 kph (28 mph), front-drive Tyres 5.00 x 9.


1954 Spark: 

Manufacturer: Nippon Tokushu Togyō Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

W/B: 1700mm; Engine: Air cooled SV single 249cc 9.0hp @ 3800rpm.


1954 Tuten: 

Manufacturer: Aichi Toyomotor mfg. Co. Ltd. Nagoya.

L/W/H: 2460, 1210, 1120 mm; W/B: 1580mm; Tread : 1030mm
Engine: air-cooled OHV single 208cc 7.2hp @ 4500rpm.


 kc50 (コ二―)

Manufactured by the Aichi Machine Industry co.ltd. of Nagoya.

1955 Cony AA-25F: cc21 (Now part of Nissan).

   1956 Cony AA27:  kc46 kc52

The Cony AA27 has a 359cc 2-cylinder engine.

kc47 kc74 cony2


m6  1957-72 Midget 1G: kc39

(昭和32-47年 ダイハツ ·ミゼット 製造 : 336,534)

Daihatsu is the oldest of all the Japanese car manufacturers.  The first Midget the DKA was classed as an “Autorickshaw” and was first produced in 1957.  It was a single seater 3-wheeler with a doorless cab and handlebar steering.  The 250cc (ZA) engine was an air-cooled single cylinder 2-stroke, producing 8PS (6kW).

Auto rickshaws in Southeast Asia started from the knockdown production of the Daihatsu Midget which was introduced in 1957.  The Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications also donated 20,000 used 3-wheelers to Southeast Asia.  In Japan, 3-wheelers went out of use in the latter half of the 1960’s.

m9 1st Generation Midgets cc134

1957-59 DKA & DSV: Изображение Изображение Изображение

In August 1959, the DKA was replaced by the more comfortable DSA which had doors and a more powerful 10PS (7kW) version of the ZA engine.  There was also a rare 2-seater version the DSAP, with the passenger seat off-set to the left behind the driver.  This required a longer passenger compartment which encroached on the cargo area.  There was also a DSV panel van version.

1957-59 DKA’s: Изображение Изображение

1959-61 DSA’s: Изображение Изображение

1959-61 DSV: Изображение  DSAP: Изображение

The MP series was introduced in October 1959, in the form of the MP2 with updated features, such as a steering wheel, doors and seating for two.  This model had been on sale in America since April 1959 as the MPA, although it was marketed as the Daihatsu Trimobile.  Companies such as Boeing and Lockheed used them in their plants due to their small size and agility.  However, being 80kg heavier than previous models, it was somewhat sluggish.  The DSA and the MP versions were built alongside each other into to the early 60’s.  There was a panel van version of both types.

1959-60 MP2: Изображение  1961 MP3: Изображение

MP3 Safari: Изображение  MP3 Bulldog: Изображение

Revisions to the MP design were soon made resulting in the MP3, which had the larger 305cc ZD engine, producing 12PS (9kW).  In May 1960, the 200 mm (7.9″) longer MP4 arrived, featuring roll up door windows.  In August 1961 the doors were modified to incorporate a triangular window vent and a chromed side strip.  In September 1962, the final version the MP5 arrived, somewhat larger than the MP4 with a maximum length of 2,970 mm (117″),with cargo space increased by 100 mm (3.9″) to a total of 1,260 mm (50″).

Nearly all the body panels were altered in some way, with new marker lights installed, redesigned doors, a blunter and more rounded front, bigger vent openings in front of the doors leading edge and finally a solid metal roof instead of the previous fabric type.  The MP5 also gained more chrome trim around the headlamps and elsewhere.  April 1963 saw the introduction of automatic oil mixing for the 2-stroke engine.  In August 1969 new safety regulations required certain lighting changes, including a drivers side headrest and seat belts.

1960-62 MP4: Изображение  1962-72 MP5: Изображение

MP5’s: Изображение Изображение Изображение Изображение

The MP5 remained in production until December 1971, with sales stopping in 1972.  By 1972, over 336,500 units had been sold.  Production terminated due to the demand for more modern 4-wheelers.  The Midget has been sold outside Japan mainly in East Asia (India, Pakistan, Indonesia & Thailand) and they are still being made today by other manufacturers.


fuj9 1957 Fuji Cabin model 5A my58

my54 my55 my56 my57

The Fuji Cabin is more like a scooter with a roof than a car.  The unrestored example (centre) is a prototype with an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight.  Manufactured by Fuji Jidōsha.


 1959-69 Mazda (マツダ) K360 

In total, 280,000 vehicles were produced.  Specifications :

2.975 metres (117 ins) in length, 1.28 metres (50 ins) wide, 1.43 metres (56 ins) tall and weighs 485 kilograms (1,069 lbs), with a top speed of 65 km/h (40 mph).

Mazda k360.jpg


Thumbnail for version as of 11:59, 23 February 2006 1959-62 Mitsubishi Leo new file

The 1959 Mitsubishi Leo was heavily influenced by the Mitsubishi Mizushima of 1946.  It used a 309 cc single-cylinder engine, the ME20, producing 12.5 hp @ 4,500 rpm.  Payload was 300 kg (660 lb), with a top speed of 65 km/h (40 mph).

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my31 1960 Hope Star SM: kc101

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