Monday February 3, 2020
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the SC100 “Whizzkid” in the metal – and I had forgotten just how small they are.
There were moments when I was convinced that it was ankle-height and the Suzuki remains one of the few cars that makes an Austin A35 seem as large as a Ford Granada.
It is also one of the most delightful Japanese vehicles of its era as well as anticipating the Smart cars by several decades.
The roots of the Whizzkid date back to 1955 when Suzuki pioneered the “Kei” car. The Giugiaro-styled Fronte made its bow in 1971, and the Cervo followed six years - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=To-pIMpNrAI.
UK sales of flagship SC100 GX commenced in 1979, and the Suzuki was marketed under the name “Whizzkid”.
It would be fair to say that the average British motorist had never before encountered such a machine.
By the late 1970s, small Japanese cars such as the Honda Civic were already common sights, but a 970cc rear-engine coupe just 10 feet 5 inches in length was another matter.
Its nearest British equivalent was the Sunbeam Stiletto, but that had ceased production in 1972.
The Whizzkid’s engine was transversely mounted, and the rear screen opened to allow access to the (limited) luggage space; the spare wheel and the reservoirs for the radiator and the windscreen washers largely occupied the front compartment.
The Suzuki was essentially a two-seater – the rear bench was best suited to carrying parcels – but few owners were concerned with such practicalities with such an enjoyable machine.
The advertisements boasted of an 8 mph top speed and Motor remarked ‘No car we have ever tested has even approached this performance/economy compromise, especially at such a low price’.
In short, the Suzuki was ideally suited to the motorist looking to trade in their Midget or Spitfire for a hard-top car, especially as the specification included a cigar lighter, a radio, a clock, a tachometer, reclining seats and tinted glass.
Others regarded the SC100 as the Porsche 911 formula writ small, and with somewhat more affordable a £2,400 price tag.
The Suzuki may not have been as versatile as the Fiat 127L or the Mini 850 but it was cheaper than both.
Suzuki GB sold a mere 4, 696 Whizzkids in the UK before the SC100 was discontinued in 1982.
It was always going to be a niche offering and a propensity to rust has not enhanced their survival rate. But it was really was great fun and still is – as well as making a modern day “small car” appear about as compact as your average juggernaut.
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