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The Carchive: The ’99 Suzuki Carry

Chris Haining November 7, 2016 Cars You Should Know, The Carchive 7 Comments


While all the other automotive websites reel and rally to attract clicks and page views, each biting from the same news sources, each speculating on the next bit of big news that may – or may not – matter, here’s that moment where we sit back and look at the things that definitely did. Welcome back to The Carchive.

“Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home” was never used in an advertising campaign for Suzuki’s diminutive, long-lived series of small panel vans.  In keeping with, and concluding the the theme of tiny commercial vehicles that has accidentally been established within this weekly feature, let’s take a look at Suzuki’s miniature marvel for the Millennium.

(All images can be increased to pretty much life size at the click of a mouse)


“The new Suzuki Carry is the ideal partner for your business. A small van with a big van presence”

This was the moment the kei-class Suzuki Carry changed. While you could still buy a Carry with the three-cylinder, 660cc engine on the domestic Japanese market, and others, those examples to arrive on UK shores were somewhat upgunned.

Still mid-engined, with its engine inclined under the front passenger seat, the larger ‘Every Plus’ was marketed as a multi-seater minivan, but it was also exported as a van under the ‘Carry 1.3’ moniker. It used the 1298cc G13 engine that otherwise appeared in cars as diverse as the Geo Metro and Suzuki Jimny. It could belt out 82hp in this trim, making this Carry a far more serious proposition than its less endowed forebear.


“Every feature of the Suzuki Carry has been designed to support a demanding business life”

As long as that business isn’t the A-Team.

The ’99 on Carry could manage a load that was almost 64 inches long, and assuming you you could get it through the tailgate, 53 inches wide. It could stand a 577  kg payload, too.

However, it was still not the first choice for carrying bulky items. Rather, the faster, more powerful new Carry was suddenly a far more appealing vehicle with which to shift lightweight loads from place to place, quickly and conveniently. It carved itself rather a niche carrying perishable items from source to market and you’d frequently see one carrying flowers, fruit and veg, fresh fish, bread, all those commodities you didn’t want stuck in a van for too long. And the fact that it wasn’t much bigger than the older, 660cc Carry meant that it could still dart down city streets.


“Suzuki has applied 20 years of van experience and engineering excellence to make sure that the new Carry van is ideal for you and your load.”

Though the Carry (presumably) continues to thrive overseas, it seems that the Carry later became rather too narrow a niche for Suzuki to bother with in the UK. The Carry disappeared here in 2005, while the Daihatsu Hijet ironically continues in the same form that we saw it in here…

…except with another name on its nose. The Hijet is now sold here as the Piaggio Porter, built under license by Piaggio in Italy, while the JDM market is still knee deep in tiny kei vans, with variants of the Honda Acty, Suzuki Carry, Daihatsu Hijet and Mitsubishi Minicab all competing for sales.

Yet another reason to visit Tokyo again.

(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. In the ‘8os you could buy a Suzuki Carry badged as a Bedford Rascal. It’s one of the best names ever, and I have a brochure for that somewhere… of course)