The Mazda AZ, also known as the Autozam AZ-1, is a mid-engined two-seat sports coupe kei car and was designed and manufactured by Suzuki but sold by Mazda under the “Autozam” brand. This car first made its debut in October of 1992 and production ultimately ended in 1994. The AZ used a Suzuki-sourced 657 cc turbocharged engine, which was also used in the Mazda Carol and can produce up to 64 PS at 6500 rpm as well as 85 N m or 63 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. A Suzuki badge engineered version of this car, called the Suzuki Cara, was also made. This car has experienced a significant amount of success as a grey import vehicle in certain markets and has been converted to left-hand drive for the Canadian market.
The very first proposal for the AZ can be traced back to 1985, when Suzuki initially developed the Suzuki RS/1, a midship sports car project intended for volume production. This automaker designed the car for the Tokyo Motor Show as more than just a design exercise, but rather to be fully functional with a 1.3 liter G13A engine from the Cultus. This vehicle was followed by the Tatsumi Fukunaga designed RS/3, which was revealed to the public at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. This car retained many of its predecessor’s design features, and a majority of them were tweaked in order to meet Japanese safety regulations as a practical sports car.
There have been a number of different variants of the Mazda AZ, the first of which used tube frame floors as well as bulkheads made form aluminum honeycomb with three different body styles, each of which were made from fiberglass. Each of these cars were constructed according to Kei car regulations, which required a length of 126 inches and a maximum engine capacity of 550 cc. This model was changed the following March, given the AZ-550 Sports model name.
The Type A AZ-550 was first revealed to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989. The Type A was red sports car that used pop-up headlights as well as front air vent and distinctive side strakes, which were heavily inspired by the Ferrari Testarossa. The Type B version of this car was described as a highly tuned pure sports car and was inspired by certain trends in the tuning industry; its concept car design featured a greenhouse pyramid roof with a rearward sweep to the C-pillar.
The Type C version of the Mazda AZ has a very distinctive body design, which was inspired by Mazda’s Group C sports prototype racing vehicles, using its signature color scheme of blue and white. This vehicle uses a bigger air intake than both the Type A and B models, venturing to the forward-positioned radiator. Many of the components and design cues with this vehicle are typical of an endurance racer, including the wing mirror and BBS style brake-cooling wheel discs.
The Mazdaspeed version of this vehicle was introduced to showcase the various parts that were available for the A-spec. The body kit on this vehicle features an enhanced bonnet as well as rear wing and front spoiler. Unlike the production version of this car, it comes in an all-red or blue body color as well as a variety of different optional features, including shock absorbers with sports spring sets, mechanical LDS, strut bars for the front and back, a stainless steel and ceramic muffler, and enhanced air filter. This vehicle became incredibly popular as a racing vehicle with a number of impressive modern features that the public loved.