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Suzuki SC100 GX, a Kei car

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Japan is a kind of country where along the edges of a lot of highly impractical mountains there are some strips of cultivable land. If the Japanese were allowed to design their own country, they would probably have done it better.

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The Suzuki SC100 GX

Fortunately, Japanese people are usually smaller than Northern Europeans. So they have that profit. But lack of space has always been a thing in Japanese urban agglomerations. That is why the Japanese made for the home market…. small cars. In fact: very small cars. And whether the Suzuki SC100 GX was the Japanese small-scale answer to the Porsche 911?

The kei cars

Because there is a mild tax climate in Japan for very compact cars, the so-called Kei cars, this has resulted in a considerable number of remarkable vehicles in recent decades. The eligibility criteria for tax breaks are simple. A Kei-car may not be longer than 3,40 meters, may not be higher than 2,00 meters, may not have a larger engine capacity than 660 cm3 (in 1966 that was still 360 cc!) And not produce more power than 64 hp.

That Kei-car phenomenon is a serious thing

Kei cars were business. The manufacturers did - and do - bravely participate. There were the Daihatsu Fellow, the Daihatsu Fellow Max Hardtop, the Daihatsu Leeza Spider, the Daihatsu Mira Walk Through Van, the Honda S 500, the Honda Z, the Honda Vamos, the Mazda Carol 360, the Mitsubishi Minica, the Subaru 360 , the Suzuki Suzulight, the Suzuki Fronte and a few more which shows that naming the names of very small cars can cost a lot of space.

Back to the Suzuki SC100 GX Coupé

In Japan, the Suzuki was launched as a pure Kei-car in 1977 with an 539 cc small, 30 hp three-cylinder two-stroke engine. The SC100 arrived in 1979 with an 970 cc four-cylinder engine of almost 50 hp. And the Dutch public reacted quite enthusiastically. Nimag sold thick 3000 copies of the SC100 in the three years that the car was available here, and in England more than 4500 were sold.

With a length of 3.190 millimeters and a width of 1.395 millimeters, the small Suzuki is only slightly longer and considerably narrower than a Smart ForTwo - but it only has two seats, the Suzuki has four. Well, four: to fit in the back, you have to be small and want to board with the help of a shoehorn. The practical approach is to open the rear window and use the rear seat as an addition to the luggage space that it offers, à la 911, in the front.

Lead in the bumper

If you are still at the rear, you can also go on an excursion to the engine room, where the engine hangs above the rear axle. (Suzuki had to add ballast in the front bumper to compensate for the heavier 970 cc engine intended for the home country.) Despite the extra ballast on the nose, the Suzuki only weighed 648 kilos.

The Suzuki is a brave little car that drives like a go-kart

There are very few left of it. They rusted even better than driving. We found our fashion model, a unique survivor, at Garage de l'Est, the company that is mainly known for its range of top class French classics.

Suzuki SC100 GX

Good for almost 50 hp and a top of 140 km / h

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And also:

  • Aprilia Moto 6.5 restoration
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  • Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman
  • Reminder of Stirling Moss
  • Experience the liberation part 2

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Dolf Peeters, automotive journalist, copywriter, translator, member of the Heeren van Arnhem

5 Comments

  1. Bert Kruize

    13 August, 2019 at 10: 49

    Have driven 1,5 years with great pleasure. Unfortunately, due to a collision in which the front was driven off, there came an abrupt end. It was just like a go-kart. Cheap too! 1 on 22 for long distances with 115 on the counter. With my 1meter 93 I also attracted a lot of attention when I got out.

  2. Rob van Wieren

    12 August, 2019 at 22: 09

    Worked at Suzuki, and therefore can and may drive a few times in such a Coupé.
    A go-kart at the same time and with this the nozzles were slightly drilled and a few small things.
    The result was that he drove over the 160.
    Max 100 was the legal standard on our motorways at the time.
    Many will therefore have looked strange when I drove past them, even though they were also driving faster than the legal max.
    Wouldn't have to think about it anymore with all those SUVs high on the feet ...
    They come to put in somewhere near your roof line and there is no room to hide away …….
    Another fact, the crumple zone was across, in the form of a heavy beam in the bumper, because this was the strongest of the car and also served as a counterweight for the heavier engine.
    But, again, what a wonderful car to drive with and how wonderful it would be to be able to own one, along with her contemporary and also high on the legs that all four could be driven!

    • Dolf Peeters

      13 August, 2019 at 09: 38

      They are still there. So good catch! And thanks for your contribution!

  3. JJ.Sanders

    12 August, 2019 at 21: 48

    That Suzuki CK100 had a problem with its gasoline tank, which was quickly rusted and very expensive, and seeing through strange forms there was no possibility of a different solution before. An acquaintance had 3 driving there.

  4. Adri Kleisterlee

    12 August, 2019 at 21: 01

    This is in my eyes a cult car.
    I rode a silver-gray SC100 GX for about a year. A wonderful cart, and what a handling in dry weather, that is. On a wet road surface it could happen that with hard braking the rear came past the front. A pirowet was thus made 😉
    All in all, a nice and moving car with which I had a lot of fun.

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