Federal laws in the United States mean that a vehicle must 25 years or older to import into the United States without needing to worry about it meeting national environmental or safety requirements.
The pint-sized, ultra-cool Autozam AZ-1 was among the cars that became legal to bring into the country in 2017, and Regular Car Reviews got the opportunity to drive one of them.
Autozam was Mazda's brand for its kei-class cars in Japan. The AZ-1 launched in Japan in 1992 as a sporty entry in the segment of tiny models. Its contemporaries included vehicles like Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino. Suzuki even had its own version of the AZ-1 called the Cara.
More Autozam AZ-1 News:
Power comes from a 657 cc three-cylinder turbocharged three cylinder making 63 horsepower (47 kilowatts), which routes through a five-speed manual. While not overly powerful, a weight of just 1,587 pounds (720 kilograms) means that the small amount of horsepower goes a long way. Keeping it on the road might be a labor of love because all the parts require importation from Japan.
In addition to mounting the engine behind the driver, the AZ-1's other claim to fame is the design that features gullwing doors. Things are tight inside, though. At 5-feet-10-inches tall, Mr. Regular reports that the cabin is too small for him, and he even takes of his shoes because the pedals are so tiny. Even worse, the passenger's side A-pillar blocks the driver's view at intersections.
This AZ-1 sold for $16,000 on Bring a Trailer on November 13. It features a few upgrades like an HKS intake, Mazdaspeed rear spoiler, and 14-inch Volk TE-37 wheels. The front bumper with fog lights is a factory optional part, too. The combination of Siberia Blue and Venetian Gray looks gorgeous.
That sale price is one of Mr. Regular's biggest complaints about the AZ-1. At the moment, this little Mazda remains a rarity in the United States and costs reflect that. The money and tight cabin make the model more of a collector's curiosity than something that's really worth regular driving.