[ Overview ]

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Micro – Related image – Cars

[ 1955 – 2016 ]

kc126"Kei - Cars - Fanzine"MY19



A pictorial look into the rarely seen genre that is ‘JAPANESE | MICRO | CARS’ and their special place in the post-war era of a Japan struggling to bring itself back from the abyss of defeat to the modern society that it is today.  Although helped somewhat by the Japanese Governments’ desire to produce a cheap and easily affordable “people’s car”, the legacy of which is still being carried on today.

Micro-cars in Japan are called “kei-jidōsha”

“kei-jidōsha” is often shortened to “K-car” or “Kei-car”, it literally means “light car” and is pronounced as in the letter “K”.  It is a Japanese category of small vehicle of 660cc or less, they include passenger cars, microvans, pickup trucks and even sports-cars and 4×4’s.

m17 m19 m16  


Japanese | Kei | Cars …

… have to adhere to a set length, width, height and weight which is strictly controlled by the Japanese Government, which today is as follows:

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(Maximum :  Width 4.9 ft.   Length 11.2 ft.   Height 6.6 ft.)

In May 1955 the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) announced a promotional program entitled the “People’s Car”, calling upon industry to create: “A 4-seater with a top speed of 100 kph (62 mph), priced at ¥150,000 (£1,145).”

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The engineers of the Nakajima Aircraft Company developed the first truly successful kei microcar (above), namely the ‘Subaru 360’ (1958-1971).

The Suzuki Wagon R (below), is the best selling kei-car in Japan since 2003.

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“Kei” micro-cars are designed to comply with government tax and insurance regulations, and in most rural areas are exempt from the requirement to certify adequate parking is available.  Some roads are also specifically marked ‘kei-cars only’, due to their narrow width.

Japanese micro-cars have special number plates

kc1                kc2

(Yellow for private cars)          (Black for commercials)

Since WWll, engine sizes have changed 3 times

360cc Era (1949 – 1975):  kc26  eg: 1955 Suzulight.

550cc Era (1976 – 1990):  kc27  eg: 1976 Daihatsu.

660cc Era (1990 ~): my105  eg: 2006 Subaru.


Early Manufacturers include …

Auto Sandal (1947 – 1954): kc53 kc48 kc84 kc83

Cony Cars (1955 – 1965): kc50 kc40 kc67

Fuji Motor Company (1957 – 1961):   fuj4

Hope Star (1952 – 1974) became Suzukimy31 kc103 kc97

Nihon Nainenki Co. (1961 -1962): kc129 my81 my90

NJ / Taro (1954 – 1955): njjj kc80 my42

Suminoe Manufacturing (1951 – 1955): kc123 kc132 kc122

Suzulight (1955 – 1969) became Suzukikc148 kc149 kc146

Fleeting marques include …

my48  Mitsuoka Motors: cc127 my72 my73 my74

(The Mitsuoka Ray was produced from 1996 – 2004)

my96 Smart (Daimler AG): my93 my95 my94

(The Smart K was produced from 2001 – 2004)

six91   Yamaha Motor Co Ltd:  cus29 cus25

(Only 3 Yamaha Ami’s of a projected 600 were produced around 1997)


The Manufacturers today …

(With a cross-section of the models)

AUTOZAM (Mazda)  m1  (アウトザム)

Carol: m2  Scrum: m3  Wagon: 

DAIHATSU  Related image  (ダイハツ)

Esse: Daihatsu Esse 2005 2.jpg  Leeza: Related image  Move: m11

HONDA  Related image  (本田)

N360:   Life: Honda Life 1998 Rear.jpg  Today: 

MAZDA  m20  (マツダ)

Chantez: Chantez-F.jpg  Flair: cc126  Laputa: Mazda Laputa.jpg

MITSUBISHI  kc154  (三菱)

Minica Toppo (saloon): kc157  Minica Toppo (van): kc158

NISSAN  Related image  (日産)

(Nissan only sell badge-engineered… my79 …Mitsubishi & Suzuki models)

SUBARU  my100  (スバル)

R1: my104  R-2: my103  Vivio: my107

SUZUKI  kc159  (スズキ)

Alto: kc162  Lapin: kc163  Palette: kc164

TOYOTA  Related image  (トヨタ )

(Toyota Pixis Mega’s are badge… Daihatsu WAKE G "SA" (LA700S) front.JPG …engineered Daihatsu Wake’s)


Kei | Micro | Trucks

Micro-trucks are known as “kei-tora”, “tora” being a poorly contracted version of the English word  “truck” (torakku).  They cost as little as yen 1,000,000  (£6,400) or less !!

The main manufacturers, models and No of Generations …

Daihatsu Hijet (10G’s): kt2  Honda Acty (4G’s): kt3

Mitsubishi Minicab (8G’s): kt5

Subaru Sambar (7G’s): Image result for subaru sambar  Suzuki Carry (11G’s): kt7

The trucks come in a wide variety of styles for just about every use imaginable, such as : Agriculture; Hunting, Fishing and Construction.  There are many body configurations including, vans, pickups and many specialist uses, here are a few…

Twin Cab: kt10 Cherry-picker: kt12 Tipper-truck: kt13

Motor-home: kt11 VW Classic: kt20 Fire-truck: kt22

Canvas-back: kt24 “H”Classic: act1 Stretcher-bearer: kt26

Wagon: kt29 High-top: kt31 Refrigerated: kt34

Mobile-shop: kt35 Road-works: kt36 Wood-back: pp17

Walk-thru’ Van: pp18 Camping-car: pp21 Wheelchair-carrier: kt27


Related image  S p o r t s  C a r s …

The sports microcar was born by the “bubble boom” in the latter years of the 1980’s, although a few sporting aspirations had appeared prior to this.

Saloon cars with sporting pretentions …

1968 Suzuki Fronte SS: ss36  1969 Subaru Young SS: ss35

1970 Honda Z Coupé: pp31  1971 Suzuki Fronte Coupé: ss78

1987 Suzuki Alto Works RS-R: ss88  1989 Daihatsu Mira TR-XX: Related image

1989 Mitsubishi Minica Dangan ZZ-4: ss77  1992 Subaru Vivio RX-RA: sp23

ss2 P R O D U C T I O N     S P O R T S     C A R S ss27

Suzuki Cappuccino: ss19 ss17 (1991 – 1997)

Honda Beat: ss4ss5 (1991 – 1998)

Autozam AZ-1: ss37ss44 (1992 – 1995)

Daihatsu Copen 1G: ss60ss49 (2002 – 2012)

Daihatsu Copen 2G: ss66ss62 (2014 – date)

Honda S660: kc62ss69 (2015 – date)

Caterham Seven 160: Image result for caterham seven 160 Image result for caterham seven 160 (2016 – date)


& not forgetting

The Image result for 4x4 logo ‘s

The SUZUKI  JIMNY  1970 ~

1st Gen: Suzuki Jimny LJ10 001.JPG  2nd Gen:   3rd Gen: 

The Mazda AZ-Offroad is a re-badged Suzuki Jimny: Suzuki Jimny JA12W 001.JPG

The  MITSUBISHI  PAJERO  MINI  1994 – 2012


The Nissan Kix is based on the Pajero Mini: 

Most micro-cars and trucks today are available in 4wd or AWD (all-wheel drive), there is even a craze for extreme off-roading:

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The 1989 Mitsubishi Minica Dangan ZZ (above) has a 657cc turbocharged 3-cylinder engine with 5-valves per cylinder that revs to 9,500 rpm and a computer-controlled AWD system that later appeared in the 440 bhp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution !!

It is well known that Japanese micro-cars make good test beds for their bigger brothers !!

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