Kei Cars

Kei cars are synonymous with Japan. The very first ones started popping up in the 1950’s after the war ended. It was a way for automakers to get more customers. These tiny cars resulted in lower prices and smaller road taxes for the Japanese people. Over the years, the Kei car has developed quite a cult following and are now very sought after here in North America.

We have curated a list of the Top 5 Kei cars that are now available for import.


Mazda Autozam AZ-1

Mazda AZ-1
Mazda AZ-1

The AZ-1 was Mazda’s answer to the tiny sports car movement in Japan in the early 90’s. This scaled-down version of a mid-engine, RWD car had all the DNA of a supercar, just on a smaller scale. It was fitted with a 660cc engine from Suzuki tht produced a whopping 66hp. This might not sound like much, but when you consider that it only weighed around 1,500 lbs, the AZ-1 could definitely hold its own.

They are becoming increasingly rarer as Autozam only made 5000 of them. People are drawn to its unique styling and compact size. The fact that they are now available for import is only going to drive the price up, so snag one up while you can.

Read our AZ-1 Buying Guide

View Mazda Autozam AZ-1 Listings For Sale


Suzuki Cappuccino

1993 Suzuki Cappuccino
1993 Suzuki Cappuccino via japaneseclassics.com

Suzuki built this great little car between 1991-1998. Sticking within the Kei car rules, it came with a 657cc turbocharged, three-cylinder engine that made 63hp. Couple that with the perfect 50/50 weight distribution and you’ve got yourself a proper sports car.

The Cappuccino took cues from many full-size vehicles of that era. As you can probably tell, it looked a lot like the Mazda Miata. In addition, the folding roof could be taken apart to reveal either a T-top or Targa-top, just like Porsches of that time period. It was this striking design that kept it in production longer than its competitors.

Grab one while you can, as the Cappuccino is slowly becoming a future collectible.

Read our Cappuccino Buying Guide

View Suzuki Cappuccino Listings For Sale


Honda Beat

1991 Honda Beat
1991 Honda Beat via importavehicle.com

Of course, Honda couldn’t be left our from this list. They produced their own version of the pint-sized car. Produced from 1991-1996, the Beat featured a 656cc inline-three engine which pumped our 63hp at an amazing 8100 rpm.

It wasn’t particularly fast, but it was sure to put a smile on your face every time you drove it. And now that its over 25-years old, it is available for import Stateside. Get your hands on one while you can, because Honda fan boys will be grabbing these quickly.

Read our Honda Beat Buying Guide

View Honda Beat Listings For Sale


Nissan Figaro

Nissan Figaro via carsandbullshit.com

This retro-inspired Kei car was produced by Nissan for only one year back in 1991. There was a total of just over 20,000 built, so finding one shouldn’t be that difficult.

It featured a 987cc turbocharged engine from the Nissan March and it produced a respectable 76hp. The Figaro is definitely an acquired taste, but if you want something that looks old, is half the size, and has technology from the 90’s, then this car is for you!

View Nissan Figaro Listings For Sale


Daihatsu Hijet

2001 Daihatsu Hijet Truck Special 79
2001 Daihatsu Hijet Truck Special 79

This little workhorse was in production from the 60’s all the way up to 2014. It came in several different configurations: from trucks, to vans, and all the way to motorhomes, just in a smaller size.

The seventh generation can be currently imported to the States. Engines range from a 547cc inline-three and go all the way up to 1.3L inline four-cylinder. They are still popular in Japan to this day thanks to its compact size and you’ll see many in the truck or van configuration. So, if you’re looking for a small workhorse for your small business, or a compact expedition vehicle, then the Daihatsu Hijet is for you.

View Daihatsu Hijet Listings For Sale


Yamaha Ami

Yamaha Ami

Chances are that you will never see one of these in person, let alone have the chance to purchase one as there were only three of them ever built. Look close enough and you’ll see a resemblance to the famous Ferrari F-40. That’s right, this little 600cc, 55hp Kei car took a lot of stilling cures from the famous Italian automaker.

We know that this mini Ferrari F-40 is basically a prototype, but we had to put it on the list due to the sheer wow factor it has.

We hope that you enjoyed this collection of the Top 5 Kei Cars. Be sure to have a look at our other articles currently out on JDMBuySell.com.


Sources:

  • https://www.autocar.co.uk/slideshow/history-kei-car#2
  • https://motor-junkie.com/tiny-giants-from-japan-20-greatest-kei-cars-of-all-times/16348/8/
  • https://www.hotcars.com/kei-cars-qurky-wish-got-in-america/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Figaro
  • https://drivetribe.com/p/yamaha-amithe-ferrari-f40-wannabe-MbQ8nyyySFq6cnxwZtCSzw
  • https://driving.ca/suzuki/auto-news/news/the-tiny-autozam-az-1-delivers-fun-in-small-doses

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