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Autozam AZ-1

Here’s another one you are unlikely to find on your local used car lot.

The Autozam AZ-1 began as a Mazda styling exercise in 1985. After several design iterations and show models it finally made it to showrooms in 1992. Among its unique features were gull-wing doors, a glass greenhouse with tiny ‘mail slot’ window openings and Ferrari Testarossa inspired side air intakes.

The AZ-1 is a Kei car, a special designation of small, low powered cars unique to the Japanese market. Kei cars enjoy lower cost registration and insurance. Many Kei cars are boxy transportation modules but in the early ‘90s there was a competitive niche of Kei sports cars. The AZ-1 competed against the Honda Beat and the Suzuki Cappuccino. Unfortunately for the AZ-1 it hit the market just as the Japanese economy was falling into recession. Only 4392 were built and sold as Autozam AZ-1 with another 531 sold as the Suzuki Cara.

Building the AZ-1 was a lot of fun. Typical of Aoshima kits, the design is well thought-out and the molding quality is excellent. Aoshima provides pre-cut masks for painting the windows, colored lenses for the lights and three sets of wheels to choose from. There are options to build standard ride height or lowered. I painted the exterior with Tamiya rattle-can Brilliant Blue and Gun Metal for the lower cladding. The seats are custom blends of Tamiya acrylic blue, white, and flat base.

5 additional images. Click to enlarge.


6 responses to Autozam AZ-1

  1. Nice ! I’ve never seen one of these before.

  2. looks terrific Ken. Seriously. Does it come with pedals or a squirrel cage for a motor?

    • The 657cc, DOHC turbo 3 produces 63HP at 9000 RPM. Curb weight is only 1590 pounds. While hardly a supercar they are reputed to be a hoot to drive. As the saying goes, “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow”.

  3. Sweet subject. Well done, not something you see done often. Looks like a blown up micro-machine! I had an ’86 MR2 for 5 years and 100k miles. 112hp and 2200lbs, it was a blast to drive “fast” and miss it a lot… Closest I’ll have had to something like this.

  4. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    Fun looking build Ken, you did a nice clean work on this model.
    The design is not the same ( this one is way better ) but it somehow reminds me of a Yugo.

  5. I hadn’t heard about this car until now, Ken. I love it!
    Your model is wonderful too.
    Thanks for sharing!

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