Kei Car Weekend Edition – Suzuki Alto CA71/CC72 Works

Hello! This is your timely reminder that kei cars are awesome. Just in case you’ve forgotten how awesome they are, this weekend you will be able to enjoy an assortment of the smallest and the coolest kei cars made. Weird ads, weird stickers, small displacement, turbos – you got it all.
The first car to go is the 1980s Suzuki Alto Works, which simply put works, for me at least. Also, that is probably the worst pun you’ll have to bear this weekend, so it’s good to get that out of the way.

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“Riding Hi” probably sounds better than “Riding Tall and Narrow”, but that’s what the Works was all about. The car was as high as it was wide, at 55 inches. The turbocharged DOHC triple was tiny at 547cc, and the power output was rated at 57,5 horsepower, the half hp probably making a major difference when your vehicle weighs all of 600kg.
The amazing thing is that you could also get the Works as a RS-R version, with full time four wheel drive. That’s a lot of moving parts in a small car.


  1. I know Kei Cars are tiny little JDM buggies, but what is the actual definition of Kei Car (or is that it)? Don’t make me consult wikipikidikia, hoons, I want to hear it from you kids.

    1. From memory, I thought it was that the motor could not exceed 600cc, or something like that, for tax purposes.

      1. There are also dimensional constraints (length and width); justifying their lower tax status by taking up less space in crowded Japanese urban centres.

        1. Also had to be “lovable as a puppy” to qualify for Kei-status. In fact Kei probably means “lovable as a puppy”, “pruned like a bonsai”, “small like sushi portions” or something like that.
          (If you came here wanting accurate Japanese translations – or fact – then Wikipikidikipedia must be looking more attractive by now…)

      2. 660cc, at this point. There are limits on vehicle dimensions too, but I have no idea what those are.

        1. One of the limits is “so narrow, Mercedes had to make the Smart even narrower than it already was to get it classified as a kei”

    2. It refers to a class of road vehicles,(Cars trucks and vans) sold in Japan with a size of 3.4 m in length, width of 1.48 m and height of 2 m , (11′,1.8 ” / 4’10.3″ / 6’6″) or less, respectively, and a displacement of 660cc, maximum power output cannot exceed 47kw. There
      have been a few iterations since their introduction post-WW2, with engine sizes originally 100cc ,then 360cc
      two stroke, then 150cc and 550cc four stroke at various times as well as slightly smaller dimensions. The last parameters before the current max sizing were 3.300 / 1.400 / 2.000 just a few years ago. Kei cars are subject to lower taxes and most importantly in some parts of Japan, like Tokyo, proof of off-street parking is not required to legally register the vehicle as it would be with the larger non-kei cars.

  2. Coincidentally, just as Kei Car weekend started I was at my pal’s housewarming and found this Crosley CC at the auto body shop across the street. The guy said it was a 1948, which would mean it should have the CoBra engine, but I believe this one has the cast iron model. It’s for sale for $2500 if you know any Crosley collectors in the San Francisco Bay area.

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