The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

Lot 623

1955 Fuji Cabin

To be auctioned on Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sold for $126,500

  • ID No. 57570076

A highly sought-after, painstakingly restored example.

Manufacturer: Fuji Toshuda Motors Corporation
Origin: Tokyo, Japan
Production: 85
Motor: Gasuden 1-cyl, 2-stroke
Displacement: 122 cc
Power: 5.5 hp
Length: 9 ft. 7 in.
Identification No. 57570076

The delightful, jelly bean-shaped Fuji Cabin is one of very few three-wheeled microcars built in Japan.

With Japan in devastated turmoil, many companies scrambled for survival. In March of 1946, the automobile division of the Diesel Automobile Manufacturing Company was divided into the Hino truck and Isuzu automobile manufacturing companies. The aviation division became Hitachi Aviation. Developing new aviation technology was strictly forbidden by the Allies, as it was considered a war industry. So Hitachi Aviation, as well as other aircraft companies, tried to survive in non-war-related industries.

Hitachi subsequently changed their name to the Tokyo Gas and Electric Manufacturing Company, which, in 1952, began producing 60-cubic centimeter engines for motorcycles and had established itself as an engine producer of mainly small two-cycle engines. It merged with Fuji Automobile, and together, they built their own motorcycles under the names of Fuji Motor and Gasuden FMC. They also supplied engines to other motorcycle makers, such as Miyata, Zebra, Yamaguchi, Hikari, and Lucky. A decision was soon made to produce a scooter with full weather protection.

Ryuichi Tomiya was commissioned to design the car. He had been in charge of body design at Nissan Motors Ltd. before the war, and afterwards, he was responsible for the design of the Suminoe Flying Feather for Suminoe Manufacturing, of which 150 examples were built between 1954 and 1955. His work was highly respected, and he was known as “the Leonardo da Vinci of Japan.”

The Fuji Cabin made its appearance at the 1955 Tokyo Motor Show. It was a beautifully streamlined two-seater coupe on three wheels, and it was powered by a Gasuden scooter motor with kick start. It was a monocoque design, strengthened by a full-length tunnel bringing cooling air to the motor. There were two rounded beetle-wing lids providing access to the motor and allowing warm air to exit. At first there was a single door on the left, but the car in the Tokyo museum has two. It appears to have been designed to be driven only by the tiny models seen in the publicity pictures, as the interior is somewhat cramped, and some effort is required to climb over the central tunnel and attain the staggered driver’s seat. The steering is by a closely-placed set of handlebars. The small but well-engineered motor incorporates a reverse gear, unusual for the typical Western scooter-powered microcar. There is a feeling of solidity to the entire structure, which is helped by the coat of dense insulation material sprayed inside the cabin roof, dashboard, and sides. The front wheels are independently sprung on rubber, and the rear is on a swing arm with a coil strut, providing a comfortable ride. A single Cyclops headlamp graces the shapely nose.

Competition in the marketplace took the form of the 22-cubic centimeter Rabbit S-61scooter from Fuji Heavy Industries, at $450, and the 250-cubic centimeter Honda Dream motorcycle for $490. At $650, the Fuji Cabin offered full weather protection and high style for relatively little more money. It was planned to manufacture 400 to 500 units per month, but only 85 were built. Unfamiliarity with the handling of the fiberglass material and a limited marketing strategy were blamed.

This very rare car was found in need of restoration in the U.S.A., and it had changed hands several times before being acquired and restored by the museum. The restoration presented numerous challenges, as the primitive fiberglass, more of a “canoe cloth,” was fragile and difficult to work with. The side lights required complete re-fabrication with new plastic lenses moulded. Now in better-than-new condition, it is a significant, exceptionally rare vehicle in the microcar world.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more