Mazda + Suzuki = 1992 Autozam AZ-1

There’s no mistaking this 1992 Autozam AZ-1 as being from Japan. It has almost everything going on in the design department, yet it somehow all works together. This highly-unusual Kei zoom-zoomer can be found here on craigslist in the Ada, Michigan area, just east of Grand Rapids. The seller is asking $19,995 for this one. Thanks to Ian C. for submitting this find!

I absolutely love the look of these unusual cars. At just under 11-feet in length, it’s right in the ballpark for the little cars that appeal to me and to other lovers of Kei cars. We’ve looked at Kei cars many times here at Barn Finds and most of you know that they were created in post-WWII Japan with a maximum engine size and vehicle size in order for consumers to get a better tax rate. They also came in handy in crowded cities since they were small cars, trucks, and vans.

Autozam was one of three companies created by Mazda in the late-1980s for the Japanese market and the AZ-1 was the sporty model. They were basically rebadged Suzukis, further causing me to scratch my head wondering how such a great and creative company as Suzuki has never been able to make it in the US market. A lot of my favorite cars are either Suzukis or rebadged Suzukis, yet they can’t seem to make it here for some reason. You can see the gullwing doors on the AZ-1. An unusual part of this car is that it has been repainted. There were two colors available for the AZ-1, blue and red, with silver/gray below the doors. I’m normally a keep-it-original guy but I really like the look of this solid-color AZ-1 more than the blue and/or red versions.

There are no engine photos, unfortunately, but this is, believe it or not, a mid-engine car! That’s another unique feature, as if this car didn’t already check enough boxes for those of us to like checked-boxes. The engine should be Suzuki’s F6A which is a 657 cc double-overhead-cam, 12-valve, turbo-powered three-cylinder which puts out 63 hp. I know, a turbo with only 63 hp?! This little car only weighs 1,600 pounds so it actually feels like you’re driving a fast car and it handles like a go-kart. Unfortunately, it’s yet another desirable small car that I can’t really fit in with my 6′-5″ height, long legs, and size-13 shoes. A lot of drivers have to take their shoes off to be able to operate the foot pedals. Have any of you seen an Autozam AZ-1?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Scotty, could it be that cars like this were part of the reason Suzuki never made it into the U.S. mainstream? I spent a day driving an AZ-1 around SoCal when they were new, and didn’t see much interest in owning one from actual adult car-owners. Kids, however, were all over it….

    Not being quite as tall as you, I had no problem getting into it, by the way. And it must be said driving one, especially on the mountain roads near my then-home, made up for any possible driver discomfort. A go-kart can only wish it handled like an AZ-1. And there was plenty of auditory entertainment, as I recall the little three-pot making a husky roar as it was wound up, with a satisfying racecar-like “wheeenk!” from the wastegate when you lifted for a corner.

    It’s also worth noting that it was unlike many “toy” cars in that it was assembled nicely, didn’t feel tinny or cheap, and all its little systems worked as they should.

    Seems like the seller is being overly optimistic in his pricing (but where are you going to find another?) so I’ll have to resist the temptation, even though it’s definitely there. Give me an AZ-1, a Mitsubishi Dangan ZZ4 and a Honda Beat ()for a DD), and I’d be in tiny-car heaven!

    Like 4
  2. DRV

    I love this car. I don’t need anything bigger for my life. It has it all and would pay this money if it was original paint and under 25k miles.
    At 75 k miles this one is only worth 10k to me.
    Their will be more of these available.

    Like 7
    • AnalogMan

      The odometer should read in kilometers, not miles. So 75k km = about 46k miles.

      If (when?) gas prices go back up, cars like this might be more desirable here. But driving in Japan is different than in the US. It’s hard to imagine 600 mile drives at 75 mph on our interstates with a 657 cc engine screaming away (or how long it would last with that kind of use/abuse). A kei car is perfect for the congested, low-speed city driving of Japan, but here might only be practical as a city runabout or short suburban trips.

      Like 3
      • DRV

        Thanks analogman. I forgot. I’m retired and when I want the highway I use my wife’s Outback. My driver is a 544 sport I found here 10 years ago.

        Like 2
  3. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Never seen or heard of one but they sure aced the name.

    Like 4
  4. Del

    20 Gs for this?

    Like 2
    • DRV

      It is steep when you can find others now, but in a 5 years that will be the standard price. I’m looking in 2 years from now when there will be a few more.

      Like 2
  5. Daved

    You cannot begin to comprehend the scale of these until you see one parked beside any late model car!

    Like 2
  6. Stevieg

    I a absolutely love this, but at 6 feet tall & 300 pounds, I’d be wearing it, not driving it. Maybe it is time to lose weight lol.
    The price does seem high to me too.

  7. Kenn

    The right-hand driver position is a turn-off for me. Along with the Ada location based price.

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