The proposal for the AZ-1 goes as far back as 1985 when Suzuki created the Suzuki RS/1 as a midship sports car project for volume production. Suzuki went as far to design the car for the Tokyo Motor Show more than just a design exercise, they designed the car to be functional with a front/rear weight distribution of 45:55. powered by a 1.3 liter G13A engine from the Cultus.
The Autozam AZ-1, known as the framecode PG6SA, is a mid-engined sports kei car, designed and manufactured by Suzuki but sold by Mazda under its Autozam brand. It debuted in October 1992 until production ceased in 1994, and was perhaps most noted for its gullwing doors. Power came from the same Suzuki-sourced 657 cc turbocharged engine used by the Mazda Carol that produced 64 PS (47 kW) at 6500 rpm and 85 N·m (63 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm. Suzuki produced its own badge engineered version named the Suzuki Cara (PG6SS).
This was followed up by the Tatsumi Fukunaga designed RS/3, unveiled for the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show, retaining many of its design features of the predecessor but many of its design features were worked on to meet Japanese safety regulations as well as being a practical sports car. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned in favor of the roadster project they had been working on, named later as the Cappuccino.
Mazda’s design team, led by Toshiko Hirai, who was also responsible for the MX-5, took over the design project, despite having a limited budget and capacity.
The car was made available to the buying public on September 1992, with two colour options, Siberia Blue and Classic Red, both came with Venetian Gray lower panels. Each cars were sold through the Autozam dealer network in Japan.
Unfortunately by the time car came into production, the recession in Japan had just come into force. Selling for 1,498 million ¥ (the equivalent of $12,400), it was slightly less than a Eunos Roadster, but marginally higher than its competitor, the Honda Beat selling at 1,388 million ¥ and the Suzuki Cappuccino at 1,458 million ¥, the AZ-1 was considered to be too expensive and too cramped, both for a kei car, the car failed to sell within its target of 800 per month, even in the midst of an economic recession, production of the car ended after the following year, but Mazda had plenty of stocks to shift off.
With the total production of 4,392 over a year, plus 531 for the Cara version (mentioned later in the article) to 28,010 to the Cappuccino and 33,600 for the Beat, both with production reaching into the latter half of the 1990s; this makes the AZ-1 the rarest of the kei sports cars.
Mazda also introduced the Mazdaspeed version to showcase the parts that were available for the car, the body kit features an enhanced bonnet, front spoiler and rear wing. Unlike the production version, the car came in an all-red or blue body colour. It also came with a host of options including shock absorbers with sports spring sets, strut bars for the front and rear, mechanical LSD, enhanced air filter and a stainless steel and ceramic muffler. It also came with its own brand of alloy wheels as opposed to the production’s steel wheels.
In 1996, renowned tuning company and rotary specialist, RE Amemiya produced another one off example for the Tokyo Auto Salon, called the GReddy VI-AZ1 (named after its long-term partner, the sixth incarnation of their partnership project car), it was influenced by the AZ-550 Type-C but longer and wider, incorporating a 20B three rotor Wankel engine, mounted longitudinally.
The only part of the car that has traces of the original AZ-1 is the gullwing door. The car uses suspension parts produced by Bilstein that can be found in a Porsche 962 and the brakes from a Ferrari F40. The car was rebuilt again in 2000 with the car now resprayed to white, also a wing replacing the ducktail spoiler of the original, also replaced was the tire with a slightly wider version, brakes are replaced by those from a Ferrari F50. The car have since then been sold on to a private owner in Japan.
I like the Cappuccino too.
Definitely the coolest, especially with a rotary.
I want one, i’ll try to import one to Brazil in the next few years.
By the way, will a 1.75m person fit inside one of these?
I think so yeah, Matt farrah managed to fit in one.
Looks like a small RS200
EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT
The wheel on the top make me want one even more! They fit so well.
Personally I’d rather go with the 1st gen copen. It’s not that the AZ-1 is bad, I love Kei Cars, but I love the Copen mostly. It looks so cute and as far as I know, it has the most torque ( 110 Nm )
It looks like a bugeye front end on a mr2…
Also what are the wheels in the first pic?
Aww man, I kinda want one, how hard is it to get parts for in Canada?
‘’So far, knock on wood, it has been very reliable. Cars built in Japan for the Japanese market are extremely well-made and used very sparingly, and also kept up extremely well, so even though they are 15 years old when they arrive here, they are practically new!
I peruse the Yahoo! Japan site about every other day or so, and I have a contact in Japan that will buy anything I want/need and then ship it to me. It is expensive, but really no more than any new car that you’d buy today. The AZ-1 is a real rarity, so parts can be hard to come by, but believe it or not, my local Mazda dealer can get any OEM part I need as well, as long as I have a part number. I bought brand new weatherstripping last year and did it through the Mazda dealer here. An added bonus is that Mazda will ship any part from Japan anywhere in the world for free! So I am planning on replacing all the rubber window surrounds this winter, and I’d like to get a new door panel (some of the fibreglass studs are broken on mine). It was a bit of an adventure finding 13-inch tires for it, but I did find some!’’
Am I the only one who read “The coolest Kei car….IN THE WORLD” in Clarkson’s voice?
Looks like a little RS2000