There are few rotary tuners more prolific than RE Amemiya. Founder Isami Amemiya has been at it since 1974, building all manner of bonkers pistonless demons. Typically, his Auto Salon booth is lined with a column of powerful FD3S RX-7s, poised like they’re ready to attack a small country. This year, in addition to a neon yellow FD, Ama-san brought out a first-gen 7 and what promises to be one of the fastest kei cars of all time.
The SA22 is what put Isami Amemiya on the map when Option Magazine introduced him to the world in 1980. This 1984 model, named the Inspired 7, debuted to show Ama-san’s concept of an “SA22C refined with current technology.” With the aero trappings of an 80s hashiriya, the RX-7 exhibited an unparalleled build quality that can only come from an expert craftsman such as Ama-san.
With a peripheral port 13B underhood and loads of RE Amemiya one-off parts, the Inspired 7 produces an impressive 271 horsepower naturally aspirated. That’s more ponies than an FD’s 13B, and it had a sequential twin-turbo.
What is surely one of the most talked about cars of the show, however, was Amemiya’s Super Chantez. Sold originally with a 360cc 2-stroke 2-cylinder, the Mazda Chantez was your typical early-1970s kei car, and it was rear-wheel-drive from the get-go.
Back in 1980, the Chantez was a young Ama-san’s signature car. The compact dimensions of the rotary made it a perfect swap for the diminutive 2-cylinder engine bay. He swapped in a turbocharged, intercooled 12A fed by a 48mm Weber, a setup good for about 260 horsepower — in a car originally weighing just 490kg (or 1,080 pounds!).
Mated to an SA22 RX-7’s 5-speed transmission and a limited-slip diff and equipped with RX-7 brakes as well, it was a terror on the Wangan. On Yatabe Test Circuit, the little kei hatchback surpassed speeds it was never meant to see, to the tune of 240.48 kph, or 150 miles per hour! Fittingly, both the SA22 and Chantez were part of the famous Mid Night Club of late-night speed chasers.
Fast forward 35 years, and Ama-san has decided build an all-new Chantez. This one, quite visibly different from his original, sports a custom-built widebody kit with vented wheel arches more befitting of a Le Mans prototype than a kei car.
Under the hood sits a naturally aspirated, peripheral port 13B capable of 276 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, making it quite likely the fastest kei car in the world. It’s an impressive effort, to be sure, a micro-hatchback with the guts of an RX-7. However, the story here is less about the engineering feat and more about the fact that Ama-san chose to build a Chantez – and how heartwarming it is to see a legendary tuner return to his roots.
We’ll have more 2016 Tokyo Auto Salon Coverage coming up, but in the meantime, in case you missed it here’s coverage from our TAS Preview, Part 01 – Old School Cool, Part 02 – Callbacks, and Part 03 — Tunertopia, as well as a spotlight on the Liberty Walk S30 Z. To be continued…
Archival images courtesy of RE Amemiya.