Mmmm-Kei: 1975 Mazda Chantez

I looked it up just now, it’s not a girl’s name. Chantez means ‘to sing’ in French, so that’s probably not a hard ‘Z’ there at the end. Via an alternate translation, Chantez would likely mean ‘to scream musically in terror’ if driven on US roads. Find this 1975 Mazda Chantez for sale in Pittsburgh, PA for $6,000 via craigslist.

In a further exercise of translation, any idea on what the Katakana writing on the side means? I have no ability to decipher but I’d guess something like “Say a prayer for us”. With 35 units of proactive power to move this 1,000lb super-duper-compact out of the way of American behemoths like Geo Metros and Ford Aspires, the Mazda Kei concept never had amber waves of grain in mind. In an effort to calm the fear of death and dry the sweat/tears, this particular Chantez has A/C! I don’t know how this could possibly happen without stalling the engine but that’s the claim anyway.

We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief; the motor is mounted North-South and it’s rear wheel drive. Like everything else in the 1970’s, the Chantez was originally planned to be powered by spinny Doritos but plans suddenly changed. Unlike the typical American car manufacturer’s story where the rotary alternative couldn’t pass durability or emissions (e.g. Pacer, Monza, etc), the Chantez followed a different plot line. The single rotor 3A was actually stonewalled from Japanese Kei car regulations by other car makers who were just pissed about Mazda’s level of forethought, perceiving unfair competitive advantage as well as clearly being jealous of the sound. Lucky for us, the powerplaint was still a two-stroke, 360cc twin screamer, shown here eclipsed by reservoirs, batteries, and spare parts.

The radio placement is more or less the same distance from hand-to-knob as a normal car, however, in the Chantez it’s in a place where you can’t legally grab without violating your passenger, Everything else looks far sportier than it really ought to be for a Kei car. In fact, it looks a bit like a quartered RX-4 crossed with a Datsun Cherry both inside and out.

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Matt, a self-proclaimed bottom-feeder of the classic car market, spends half of his time buying cars, half of his time retrieving them, and the remaining third on keeping them on the road.