Back in the late 1980s, Mazda decided to build a mid-engine performance car that would abide by Japan's "Kei" small car regulations and still be fun to drive. The car could displace no more than 660cc, make a maximum of 63 horsepower, and measure 10.8 feet long, 4.6 feet wide, and 6.6 feet tall at most.
The result was this, the AZ-1. Sold under Mazda's Japan-only Autozam sub-brand, it came equipped with a turbocharged 12-valve, twincam three-cylinder engine with a 9000-rpm redline mounted behind the driver, a five-speed manual transmission, disc brakes all around, and gullwing-style doors.
Road & Track Engineering Editor Dennis Simanaitis back when it was new. "Explore the car's handling limits and you're reminded of a 1/2-scale Lamborghini Diablo," he wrote in August, 1993. The car’s ultra-sharp handling is no surprise—Toshihiko Hirai, project manager on the first-generation Mazda Miata, headed up the AZ-1 program.
And since early AZ-1s are now more than 25 years old, they're eligible for import into the United States. Domestically located examples have been popping up here and there, but is the best one we've seen yet.
The paint looks immaculate, and while it's not totally original, modifications were done tastefully. If you look closely at the interior shots, you'll see that yes, those are in fact Miata door handles.
If you're looking for a car that's truly unique, it's hard to go wrong with the AZ-1. Just make sure you fit in it before you buy it.