From 1972 to 1977, Mazda’s entry into the Japanese Kei Car market was the Chantez. Unlike the kei-cars of the 80s onwards, the 70s Keis were nothing special technologically, and the Chantez was no different. Whereas 80s Keis had 4 (or 5) valves per cylinder, twin cams, fuel injection and turbos to compensate for their dinky 660cc capacity, the 72 Chantez debuted with a 360cc 2-stroke V2….now I’m not really sure how much power the stock Chantez put out but it’s safe to assume that it was not a lot.
But the thing that attracted Ama-san (from famed rotary workshop RE- Amemiya) was that the Chantez, for all its shopping car mediocrity…was rear wheel drive. And there was just enough room between the shock towers for a 12A rotary….
Here’s what a stock one looked like….
And this shot shows you how tiny the little Chantez really is:
This shot of the stock motor shows that it’s tiny…in fact the air cleaner dwarfs the engine itself…
But the Amemiya beast has a 12A turbo, with an old school blow-thru Weber downdraught carb setup. Exact power isn’t quoted but it was tested by Option magazine in the 70s as having a 240km/h top speed!
Word has it that the Chantez was quite a well known car in illegal street racing circles over 25 years ago, and Ama-san himself would cruise the arrow-straight Tokyo freeways in it, terrorising unsuspecting sports car owners.
This is the view most people would have got by the way!
Here’s a vid of it in action. In the late 80’s there was a tv show in Japan called “Kuruma Wa Erai” where viewers and tuner shops would pit their cars against each other in televised drag races (awesome concept by the way) and here is the episode which featured the Chantez, which took down quite a few contenders before succumbing to mechanical failure (well…it is a rotary!)