Not Something You See Everyday

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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….

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And this shot shows you how tiny the little Chantez really is:

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This shot of the stock motor shows that it’s tiny…in fact the air cleaner dwarfs the engine itself…

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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9 Responses to Not Something You See Everyday

  1. Van said:

    Bahaha, this is the most hilariously awesome thing ever, haha. Is it still around, or did it eventually fall apart?

  2. Kev said:

    Dunno. I would hazard a guess that it would be rotting in some yard somewhere or maybe even broken up. Japanese tuners are pressed for space and so they can’t really afford to be sentimental about old projects 🙁

  3. Lachy said:

    I’m not sure if it’s the very same car, but there is a similar Chantez featured in issue 89 Nostalgic Hero.

  4. Kev said:

    It does look like it might be an evolution of the same car!

  5. ultraman019 said:

    That thing might look and perform well with an s2000 engine. . .just a wild idea.

  6. Kev said:

    Not sure if that little car has space for an F20C…a rotary is a pretty tiny engine in terms of physical size, and that engine bay’s pretty chock full!

  7. Topher said:

    Talk about a blast from the past. I lived in Japan at Yokota AFB in the early 80’s, and a friend of mine had a stock Chantez. Don’t laugh about that engine — it was fast. I had a Mitsubishi Minica, and several other friends had other kinds of “minicars” (Suzuki, Honda, etc.), and that little two-stroke Chantez was the fastest of all of them…by far. About the only thing that could beat it was a Suzuki Cervo or the 1300cc Mini Coopers, but they were a completely different class of “minicar”.

    We did talk about putting a small rotary in it, but all we ended up doing was lower the suspension, turn the rims inside out, and keep adding oil. Great little car.

  8. GT said:

    Motorbike engine in the back would be better eg: Z Cars’ mini

  9. Arnel said:

    Wow that little car is wild, at first glance it looked like a honda and on that video looks like a starlet, crazy little car…I want one now.

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