The Suzuki Suzulight or How the Company's Automotive History Began

This year, Suzuki is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Suzuki is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. In 1920, Michio Suzuki founded the Suzuki Loom Manufacturing Co., although cars were produced a little later, and the history of the company started with looms, fabrics and motorcycles.

The initial development of the first Suzuki car began in 1937, but it had to be postponed until better times with the beginning of WWII. The research, development and production of the first proprietary model resumed in 1954. At the same time, Suzuki Motor Co Limited was founded.

The Suzuki Suzulight or How the Company's Automotive History Began photo 2

Using the spirit of Suzuki's ‘Yaramaika’ (the Japanese way of expressing ‘Let's do it’), which was deeply rooted in the Enshu region, the birthplace of Suzuki, Michio started foreign car manufacturing and was determined to build his first Suzuki car. It was named Suzulight.

It is worth noting that the new product was developed not just as a subcompact, but to meet the requirements of the Keijidosha Law or better known as the kei car (as you can see, this term does not come from key car, as some mistakenly believe). In Japanese, this means ‘passenger car’. This term is applicable to legislation, namely compliance with certain standards, such as dimensions, engine capacity and weight. The owner of such a small car received certain tax and insurance benefits, and it was much easier to find a parking lot for such a car (which became more and more relevant over the years).

Michio Suzuki with the development team near the Suzulight prototype, 1954 Michio Suzuki with the development team near the Suzulight prototype, 1954

As a result, the Suzuki Suzulight received a two-cylinder two-stroke power unit with a volume of 360 cc and a power of 15 hp. The light engine was located in the front end. The car featured an independent spring suspension and a range of bodies to choose from. There were also all-wheel drive models. Given the high ground clearance, it was obvious that the Suzuki Suzulight would not be afraid of bad roads, so it was sent to a mountainous area with an undeveloped road infrastructure for a 300-km test route. In October 1955, the production began with 3-4 cars per month, but by early 1956 the monthly volume had grown to 30 units.

In 1959, the Suzulight TL appeared, and the popularity of Suzuki cars grew rapidly. The TL retained the layout concept and was highly appreciated for its excellent interior space and compact dimensions. The engine remained two-stroke, air-cooled, 360 cc, but with increased power – up to 21 hp at 5500 rpm.

The Suzuki Suzulight or How the Company's Automotive History Began photo 3

Suzuki has experienced rapid growth in compact car production thanks to the TL. In December 1959, just three months after the launch of the TL, the company had already reached a monthly production target of 200 units, which had increased further to 5,824 vehicles in 1960.

65 years after the release of its first car, Suzuki remains true to its philosophy of creating compact and functional cars, which was continued in the Suzuki Swift, Ignis and Jimny models.

Sign up or log in to post a comment