The ''Suzuki Fronte 360'' 2-door sedan was introduced in March 1967 with much press and TV coverage. The response more than matched expectations, with over 170,000 applications for test drives with only 500 demo cars available in the first week. Production was soon running at over 7000 cars per month.
The wheelbase was 196 cm, the suspension independent with coil springs and the engine a 356cc 3-cylinder air-cooled 2-cycle, placed transversely. Its overall shape had a roundish profile, nicknamed 'Daruma', a Japanese roly-poly doll, and this is the smallest (and only Keicar) car which used the cola-bottle shape, that became popular in the United States for the 1965 model year.
Keicar, is a Japanese category of small automobiles, including passenger cars, vans ("microvans") and pickup trucks. They are designed to exploit local tax and insurance relaxations, and are exempted from the requirement to certify that adequate parking is available for the vehicle.These standards originated in the times following the end of the Second World War, when most Japanese could not afford a full-sized car yet had enough to buy a motorcycle. To promote the growth of the car industry, as well as to offer an alternative delivery method to small business and shop owners, Kei car standards were created.
In November, 1968 came a modified high performance Fronte the LC10 SS, using the same three cylinder 360 cc engine but now with triple carbs’ to give more than 100 hp per litre. The Fronte SS 360'' had 36 HP, with the ''Suzuki Fronte SSS'' to follow in April, 1970. In the export there was also a ''Suzuki Fronte 500'' with the engine enlarged to 475cc since January,1969. As a publicity campaign, Stirling Moss (right) and Mitsuo Itoh took an LC10 SS along Italy’s "Autostrade del Sole" The Autostrada del Sole, from Milan to Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, represents the backbone of the Italian motorway network.
The motorway was started in 1956, when the only motorways existing in Italy were those opened before the Second World War. Actually, the route from Milan to the lakes of Como and Maggiore, opened in 1924, was the first toll motorway in the world, and in the next decade was followed by a small network of about 470 km, from Milan to Turin and Brescia, plus the first route through a mountain pass (Autocamionale Genoa-Serravalle) and few other minor sections. All motorways built before the war had a single-carriageway structure, about 10.5 m wide, and the same structure was used for the first new route built after the war: the Genova-Savona, opened between 1956 and 1964. On the contrary the engineers that had to design the new Autostrada del Sole took a trip to the United States, in 1956, in order to learn how a modern motorway had to be built. As a result of this trip, the Autostrada del Sole was planned with 4-lane, double-carriageway structure, that became the standard design for all other motorways in Italy (old single-carriageway sections were rebuilt during the Sixties). The concession for the construction of the Autostrada was granted to a new public company, Società Autostrade, a subsidiary of IRI, the most important State-owned industrial group. The idea of the Italian government was that the State had to build road network (and to have a large share in the petrol market, through Agip, another state-owned company), while private companies, mainly FIAT, had to sell cars. The idea was successful: in a very short time, three years and two months, the Società Autostrade succeeded in building some 220 km of motorway: 188 km from Milan to Bologna and the Naples-Capua, first section of the Naples-Rome. The full path from Milan to Naples was opened within 1964, including the Appennino section between Bologna and Florence, possibly the most "revolutionary" part of the Autostrada: it didn't simply improve a connection, it just created it, as the previous mountain roads were incomparably slower. For the first time, railway was not considered any more as the "obvious solution" to connect Northern to Southern Italy. The 1600 km of motorway network opened within 1964 became 4900 in 1975. On August 13, 1975, a law suddenly stopped the construction of new motorways, as a consequence of the oil crisis occurred in 1973. The stop lasted about 7 years, in which only minor sections were built, so that 1975 can be considered as the end point of the Italian motorways' golden age.
Suzuki proved that their little car was capable driving on European long distance motorways. However they were too positive assuming that Italian drivers would prefer Japanese brands instead of Fiats, Autobianchi, Lancia etc… As a result Suzuki Motor Corporation started selling the cars in Northern Europe without a domestic Car industry like Holland and Belgium. But also there it was difficult selling the First Japanese cars. That is why only a few car were sold.
1983 Suzuki SC100GX
1968 Suzuki Fronte SS
1995 Suzuki Cappuccino
1993 Suzuki Cara
1987 Suzuki Works RS-R
1985 Suzuki Swift mk1 cabrio