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Three Wheelers

(In chronological order)

3-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 peoples’ 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 SM 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 660cc are shown)

1948 Giant AA3 

Manufacturer: Aichi Kigyo Co. Ltd. Nagoya.

L/W/H: 2,950 mm, 1,400 mm, 1,180 mm;   W/Base: 1,900 mm.

Engine: water-cooled OHV single 90 x 100 636cc 18hp @ 3,600 rpm.
Max speed: 60 kph (37 mph) 3-speed + reverse, shaft drive.


Related image 1949 Honda B : 

Manufacturer: Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

Engine: Air-cooled 2-stroke single, 89cc 1.2hp @ 4,500rpm, max speed 45km/h.


1950 Kokuei Romance Car  (4-passenger)

Manufacturer: Kokuei Zoki Co. Ltd. Ōsaka.

L/W/H: 3,000 mm, 1,300 mm, 1,520 mm;   W/Base: 1,850 mm;  Weight: 307 kg.

Engine: Air-cooled OHV single (by Meguro) 346cc 6.0hp @ 4,000 rpm.


1950 Tachihi TR6  (3-passenger)

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

L/W/H: 2,800 mm, 1,200 mm, 1,285 mm;   W/Base: 1,735 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: 3,800 mm, 1,555 mm, 1,750 mm;   W/Base: 2300 mm;  Weight: 1,000 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: 3,200 mm, 1,450 mm, 1,845 mm; W/Base: 2,150 mm;  Weight: 620 kg; Loading: 500 kg.

Engine: water cooled OHV single 636cc 19hp @ 3,600 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.


Related image 1951 – 1958 Daihatsu PCABee‘ : 

1952:   (4-passenger)  1953: 

  Manufacturer: Hatsudoki Seizō Co. Ltd. Ōsaka.

L/W/H: 3,950 mm, 1,480 mm, 1,450 mm;  W/Base: 2,400 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.

Related image bee2 m28 bee3 bee4


1952 Right Pony 

Manufacturer: Koei Kogyō Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

L/W/H: 2,910 mm, 1,260 mm, 1,180 mm;  W/Base: 1,780 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: 2,290 mm, 1,150 mm, 1,000 mm;  W/Base: 1,520mm;  Loading: 150kg;  Weight: 200kg.
Engine: air-cooled SV single 198cc 4.5hp @ 3,600rpm.


my33 1953 Hopestar ON 

Manufacturer: Hope Motor Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

L/W/H: 2,820 mm, 1,220 mm, 1,070 mm;   W/Base: 1,920 mm;   Weight : 350kg
Engine: Air cooled SV single 346cc 15hp @4,500 rpm;   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: 2,910 mm, 1,260 mm, 1,180 mm;  W/Base: 1,780 mm;  Weight: 200kg
Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 175cc 5.2hp @ 5,000 rpm.
Max speed: 45 kph front-drive.


1953 Toyo Light 

Manufacturer: Toyomotors Co. Ltd. Kariya.

L/W/H: 2,100 mm, 1,220 mm, 1,070 mm; W/Base: 1,300mm; Weight: 110kg; Loading: 150kg
Engine: air-cooled 2-stroke single, 88.4cc 3.0hp @ 4,200 rpm.


1954 Dynastar 

Manufacturer: Ōmyiya Fuji Sangyō Co. Ltd. Ōmiya.

L/W/H: 2,470 mm, 1,230 mm, 1,070 mm;   Weight: 200 kg.
Engine: air-cooled 198cc SV single type FE-11, 5hp @ 3,600 rpm.


  1954 Kunomack  

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

L/W/H: 3,000 mm, 1,270 mm, 1,130 mm;   W/Base: 2,050 mm.
Engine: air-cooled single 354cc 8.0hp / 3,000 rpm.


1954 Pilot 

Manufacturer: Yamamoto Mfg. Co. Ltd. Numazu.

W/Base: 1,592 mm;   Weight: 220kg;   Loading: 300kg.
Engine: air-cooled OHV single 220cc 5.5hp @ 4,000 rpm 3-speed


  1954 Right Pony  

Manufacturer: Koei Kogyō Co. Ltd. Hyōgo.

W/Base: 1,780 mm;   Weight: 200 kg;   Loading: 200 kg.
Engine: air-cooled SV single (Mitsubishi) 200cc 5.2hp @ 5,000 rpm.
Max speed: 45 kph (28 mph), front-drive.   Tyres: 5.00 x 9.


1954 Spark 

Manufacturer: Nippon Tokushu Togyō Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

W/Base: 1,700 mm;   Engine: Air cooled SV single 249cc 9.0hp @ 3,800 rpm.


1954 Tuten 

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

L/W/H: 2,460 mm, 1,210 mm, 1,120 mm; W/Base: 1,580 mm;   Tread: 1,030 mm
Engine: air-cooled OHV single 208cc 7.2hp @ 4,500 rpm.


 kc50 (コ二―C O N Y

Manufacturer: Aichi Machine Industry co.ltd. Nagoya.

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

   kc46  1956 Cony AA27  kc52

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

kc47  kc74  cony2


m6  1957 – 1972 Daihatsu 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 Auto rickshaw 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

Изображение  The 1957 – 1959 DKA & DSV  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.

Изображение  1957 – 1959 DKA  Изображение

Изображение  1959 – 1961 DSA  Изображение

1959 – 1961 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 1960’s.  There was a panel van version of both types.

1959 – 1960 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 – 1962 MP4 : Изображение  1962 – 1972 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 above) is a prototype with an aeroplane-like steering wheel, and only one headlight.  Manufacturer: Fuji Jidōsha.


 1959 – 1969 Mazda (マツダ) K360 

ManufacturerMazda Motor Corporation (マツダ株式会社)

In total, 280,000 vehicles were produced.


L/W/H: 2,975 mm (117 ins), 1,280 mm (50 ins), 1,430 mm (56 ins) Weight: 485 kgs (1,069 lbs)

Top speed: 65 km/h (40 mph).


  Mazda k360.jpg



Mitsubishi Motors Related image (三菱自動車工業株式会社)

Thumbnail for version as of 11:59, 23 February 2006 1959 – 1962 Mitsubishi Leo new file

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

Related image Related image Related image


my31 The 1960 Hope Star SM    kc101

Manufacturer: Hope Motor Co. Ltd. Tōkyō.

Related image Related image Related image Related image Related image Related image



It was of course, only a matter of time before 4-wheelers came into use, most notably when the Japanese Government laid the foundations for the peoples’ car, which became the light kei-cars we have today.  There is still, however, a thriving classic scene for this type of vehicle today.

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