I’ve always liked Kei-Cars…
Designed to skirt around engine size regulations, Kei Cars are an interesting by-product of Japan’s need for personal transportation. These JDM-only cars are as unique as the country itself, often with interesting features that we could only dream about in the North American Market. Because of the regulations that birthed these cars, Japan ended up with a widely diverse group of vehicles designed with a certain-size footprint, and a maximum engine capacity of 660 cubic centimeters (0.66 liters). The Autozam AZ-1 was Mazda’s sportier interpretation of these regulations.
Designed with a mid-mounted transverse 657cc Inline-3 motor making 63 horses, a fiberglass reinforced plastic body on a steel chassis weighing 1600 pounds, a 5-speed transaxle, and gullwing (!) doors, the AZ-1 had exotic looks and features in a minuscule package.
And I’ve got to have one.
Mazda only made about 4500 for the Japanese Domestic Market, but now that the car is more than 25 years old, you could legally import them into the United States and get them registered as a “gray market” import. In fact, there are several importers around the United States that would help you locate a foreign car, take care of the paperwork, and have the car shipped to you!
After some looking around, I found a pretty decent if not heavily used example with around 120,000 miles on the odometer, and some body modifications. For a rare JDM-only car, this doesn’t seem that much of a bad deal for around $7,300! These cars are appreciating though as they’re now past the 25-year import rule, so now it isn’t uncommon for seeing low-mileage examples fetch around $15,000.
I guess I better start saving some money!