Max Power

Aside from a handful of re-named UK market versions of the long lived Daihatsu Mira, I’ve never owned, what I’d consider to be, a proper kei car. While I enjoyed each tiny Daihatsu in turn, first an L200 Mira, then an L500 Cuore and now my L80 Domino, none have really been a proper kei spec as the European flavours always come equipped with a bigger engine… in the case of the Daihatsu, the ubiquitous 850cc ED-10 three pot. While having a bigger engine naturally has it’s advantages in terms of performance, it also steers the euro models away from the true essence of Kei Jidosha motoring. For these cars a sub 660cc engine is the limit, and back in the 70s that limit was just 360cc. And it’s these class limits in both terms of dimensions as well as engine capacity that give the Kei cars their special character.

So I decided the take the plunge back at the start of the year and get me a true, quirky slice of miniature motoring. After a long wait for the ship to creep halfway around the world, I finally have my very own diminutive motor, fresh from Japan. Not only do I now have a proper piece of Kei car history, but it’s also the model that always been my favourite, the Daihatsu Fellow Max Hardtop! It’s got a pillarless body and a two stoke 356cc two cylinder! I’m in love! Here’s a quick walk around. I’ll post some more details on this little gem soon…

Advert: The New 510 (Datsun 510)

The whole ‘New 510’ thing was never going to wash with American buyers, particularly those who had experienced the original 510. The ‘New’ 510 was in fact a Datsun Violet A10 model, which elsewhere in the world was known as a Datsun 140J or 160J, or as a Stanza down under. With its live axle rear suspension, its dynamics were no match for the original PL510 model sold in the US, although it did go on to great racing (and rallying) success. It just never gained the cult status of the original.

This hatchback version arrived in on the UK market only in 160J ┬áSSS form, with a twin carburettor 1.6 and 5 speed gearbox, although I’m not sure if it would have been any faster than its American sibling, which came with a 2.0 litre single carburettor L20B.

I have always liked this series of illustrated adverts (there are others for 620 and B210 too) as the main illustration looks like the box artwork on old 1970’s Matchbox cars…

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Tomei TS Sunny

The popular Tomei powered Maruzen Technica Sunny coupe (KB110) on the cover of Japanese Autosport magazine from November 1974. Tomei built a perfect replica of this car, which appears at various events in Japan such as the Nismo Festival. The Tomei built, oversized A12 OHV engine in this car is only 1303cc, but puts out an astonishing 164ps at 8000rpm!

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Datsun 160J SSS Turbo

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I won’t go into too much detail here regarding the history of Nissan Motorsport’s Datsun 160J SSS Turbo race cars… I’ll save that for a future post… but for now here’s a brief outline of the story. Nissan had been dabbling a little with turbo technology from the start of the 1970’s, and in 1974 it unveiled its wild, 300 horsepower LZ20B, Turbo powered Violet SSS (KP710 model). Unfortunately, the timing was pretty poor, as the fuel crisis had hit hard in Japan and it wasn’t really viable for Nissan to take its fire breathing, gas guzzling Violets racing in there. So the racers were shipped off to Malaysia, where they were entered into the Selangor Grand Prix, via Datsun importer Tan Chong and Sons. In the export markets the Nissan Violet was known as the Datsun 160J, so the cars were title and liveried accordingly…

Continue reading Datsun 160J SSS Turbo