On Sunday April 25th the inaugural Kyushu Kei Car Meeting was held in Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture. I see a raised hand in the back there. “Inaugural” means, like, the first one? Well, yeah. Due to a glaringly obvious oversight, the year of 2021 marks the first that the island of Kyushu (Japan’s third largest) gets an event dedicated to those dimensionally-limited machines of unlimited quirk and charisma.
The weather was absolutely glorious and set the scene perfectly for the over one hundred 360cc, 550cc, and 660cc machines in attendance. A few plus-sized guests somehow managed to find their way in too, but more on that later.
The layout was straightforward. To the left of the entrance were some food trucks; fuel for the punters, and a small area for a swap meet and market stalls. Rounding out that row was a squad of Mitsubishi Minicabs, and mighty Minica Dangans.
The central row featured mainly 660cc cars, the bulk made up of your ABC’s (Autozam AZ-1, Honda Beat, Suzuki Cappuccino). This one, however, was a rare Suzuki-badged Cara.
Sprinkled in there were some tasty Subaru Vivios and Honda Todays. Notably, one Vivio was a top-spec RX-R variant, with a 16-valve DOHC supercharged four. This particular specimen appeared to be special edition RX-R S1, built in 1993 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Fuji Heavy Industries.
The bulk of the 360cc-era cars could be found in the third row; and where we spent most of our time. The old guard really brought the goods. They turned out magnificently, and really added some variety and punch to the event, including a pair of rare Mazda B360 utes, one stock height and one slammed.
Honda was represented by the iconic N360, the Life and Life Step van, also some tidy TN kei trucks.
Cars of note from Subaru were the suicide-doored and adorable 360, a Sambar Kei truck or two, and a pair of the cleanest R-2’s you’ll ever likely meet.
One car that got us more than a little excited was a red Suzuki Fronte SS 360. Originally a silver car, it had been repainted to somewhat resemble one raced in 1968 by Stirling Moss and Itoh Mitsuo in the Autostrada del Sole. Being the SS, it featured a triple carburetor setup.
Arriving fashionably late were the red duo of a slammed Suzuki Alto and a 5th-gen Mitsubishi Minica with more presence than Santa’s sleigh.
The third generation Altos were a favorite of customizers, with a sinister black example sporting Hayashi TRV wheels and a white high-grade L’Epo on AC Courreges.
That was more-or-less the show, but let’s get to two standout non-kei cars from the visitor parking area. First, there was a stunning MS40 Toyopet Crown. Not only was it pristine, but spare a thought for the owner who went through the great expense of acquiring a 1964 Tokyo Olympics JAF badge to celebrate what would have been the 2020 Olympics. Sad reacts only.
Finally, there was a show stopper all-white S12 Nissan Silvia RS. The owner jetted off to take in the kei car delights on offer while I drooled in the general vicinity of his MAD body-kitted, FJ20 powered coupé.
Overall, in Japan there’s been a slow return to car shows. The pandemic caused issues at first, and most events were shut down by organizers more so than the government. After a while, everyone was itching to bring them back. Except for the masks and alcohol hand wash car shows are returning to normal. Hopefully, we’ll see more soon, including a second running of the Kyushu Kei Car Meeting next year.