Basic motoring

The Evolution of the Modern Ultralight Economy car.

Chapter 7 The Emerging Japanese Manufacturers











Hino ComtessaHino Contessa
The occupying forces in Japan first allowed limited production of automobiles in 1947. That year Datsun began producing their DA model, it had a 722 cc four cylinder side-valve water-cooled engine and was based on a pre-war truck design with a saloon body. This was replaced by the similar DS series of models in 1949 with were made until 1952 . The Type 110 had a very similar specification with beam axles and cart springs and a 860 cc version of the engine used in the DS models, it was produced from 1955 to 1957.  The Datsun Type 210 of 1957 had 988 cc overhead valve four-cylinder engine that is said to incorporate features derived for the British Austin engine that Datsun had been producing under licence. As the Datsun 1000 it was exported to the United States.
Toyota first post war design the SA was completely new with a 995 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine. It was the backbone chassis with wishbone and coils front suspension and a swing axle with transverse leaf spring at the rear that were the advanced features. Only two hundred and fifteen were produced between 1947 and 1952. Unfortunately only the engine and not the advanced features were not carried over to succeeding models the SC/SD produced between 1949 and 1951 and the  SF between 1951 and 1953 were built on an existing truck chassis. The last model to us the SA engine was the first of the Corona models, produced from 1957 to 1960. A New company Hino who are well know for their large trucks today, began manufacturing a licensed version of the Renault 4 CV in1953 continuing until 1961. In that year Hino began manufacturing a car of their own rear engined design the Contessa with an 893 cc engine that was in principle similar to the Renault. Hino was taken over by Toyota in 1966.
The Kei car, or keijidōsha ( "light automobile"), is a Japanese category of small vehicles, first introduced in 1949. It wasn't until 1955 when all classes of engine up to 360cc could be utilised that practical small cars were produced. The first of these was the 1955 Suzuki Suzulight SF series of cars that closely followed the specification of the Lloyd 400. They had a 360cc two-stroke, air-cooled twin-cylinder engine, but very few of this early model were produced. Full production only starting in 1962, and continued until 1967. The first car bearing the name Subaru the 360, was introduced in 1958. It had a twin cylinder two-stroke engine of 360cc located at the rear. Only six hundred and four were produced that year, but the rate of production had reached over twenty-two thousand in 1961. This model later with a larger engine was in production for fourteen years.

Subaru 360
                                                                                                                                                                     Subaru 360                                                                                                                                       
The Mazda R360 first produced in 1960 was their first car. It was also in the Kei car category, with a rear mounted 360cc Vee twin engine driving the rear wheels and was in production until 1966. Mazda’s next Kia model was the P360 Carol of 1962. It was a much more sophisticated than the R360 with a monocoque body/chassis and a rear mounted four-cylinder water-cooled overhead valve engine and four-wheel independent suspension by torsion bars. Over two-hundred and sixty-thousand  had been made before Mazda temporarily stopped producing Kia cars in 1970.The Mitsubishi 500 type A10, in production from1960 to 1962, was Mitsubishi’s first car since 1921. It was a small two door  saloon with a 493cc, air-cooled, inline twin-cylinder four stroke engine located at the rear. With independent suspension all round and a maximum speed of 56 mph. This was replaced by the Colt 600 fitted with a 594cc engine otherwise with the same specification, which was in production from 1962 to 1965. Their model range was widened in1963 with the introduction of the Colt 1000 that had a four-cylinder engine of 977 cc, this was followed by the Colt 800 with 843 cc  three-cylinder engine in 1965. Also in 1962 Mitsubishi introduced the Minica 360 that had an air-cooled two-stroke twin-cylinder engine of 359cc, located at the front, driving a live rear axle. Two-stroke Minica's were produced until 1972. Toyota made the first of the Publica model in 1961 for the Japanese market. With a twin cylinder, horizontally opposed, air cooled  engine of 697 cc, producing 28 bhp, in a front engine/rear wheel drive chassis. An updated model with a 790cc engine was produced in 1966.  Another Toyota twin was the Sports 800 of 1965. It was fitted with a 790cc engine producing 45 bhp.  Over three thousand were made by 1969. The origins of the Publica can be traced to the "national car" concept of the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which was announced in 1955. The concept stipulated for a vehicle fulfilling several requirements, like maximum speed over 100 km/h (62 mph), weight below 400 kg, fuel consumption not exceeding 30 km/L at the average speed of 60 km/h on a level road, but also notably the requirement that the car would not break down or require significant repairs for at least 100,000 kilometres. This established a "compact car" target that was larger than what has become known as the "light car" or the kia car. Hatsudoki Seizo Co Ltd founded in 1907 changed its name in 1951 to The Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. In 1963 they began manufacturing the Daihatsu Compagno. With a front located four cylinder engine of 800 cc or 1000 cc mounted in a ladder frame with torsion bar wishbone suspension at the front and semi-elliptical leaf springs for the live rear axle. 120,000 were produced between 1963 and 1970.

Daihatsu CompagnaDaihatsu Compagno


Suzuki also produced another model in 1964 to compliment the Suzulight SF, the Front 800. It was a front wheel drive saloon with a unitary body/chassis fitted with a 785 cc three-cylinder two-stroke engine that produced 41 hp, a four speed synchromesh gearbox and independent suspension front and rear. Only three-thousand had been made when production stopped  in 1969 to concentrate Kei car production. In 1963 Mazda began producing the Familia, a conventional front engined rear wheel drive car, initially with a 782 cc four-cylinder engine as the 800 model, later the 1000 model had a 897 cc engine Front suspension was by double-wishbones and coil springs with a live axle and half-elliptic springs at the rear.




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