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.