Autozam AZ-1 Turns 30 With Japanese Birthday Bash

JDM / Comments

Japan's best gull-wing car turns 30.

In the case of the Mazda Autozam AZ-1, they quite literally don't make them like they used to. Here in America, the closest we ever got to Mazda's mid-engined Kei sports car was the first-gen Mazda Miata. Not that NA Miatas are bad, by any means. But the AZ-1 has a cult following on another level, even here in the US.

So, to celebrate the car's 30th anniversary, Mazda Japan put on a gathering for AZ-1 owners only, and it might be the world's largest gathering of AZ-1s since they were made together in the same factory. Given the massive number of owners that attended, it's clear the car is still a hit today.


161 owners gathered at Mazda's Japan HQ on October 9. There were apparently so many cars there that the 121-space lot was totally full, leaving a small handful of other owners to park nearby. Not that they'd have trouble with a car this small.

Owners also visited the Mazda museum in Hiroshima, where the AZ-1 you see above is displayed. Mazda keeps this one for themselves and maintains it meticulously. In fact, the car is in the middle of being restored, and it will eventually be able to be driven by the public once repairs are finished, keeping the AZ-1's quirky heritage alive.


The AZ-1 was first shown at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show, prefaced by the AZ550 concept car, which featured three body styles- a sports car, a track-focused version, and a Group C-style racer. That last one sounds like it inspired the modified AZ-1 pictured above, done up in a 787B livery.

AZ-1s weigh just 1,587 lbs., and produce 64 horsepower from a 657 CC three-cylinder engine with a turbo strapped to it. The cars certainly have a cult following in Japan, as evidenced by the scores of owners who turned up to celebrate the Mazda-sponsored event.


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