The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

Previous Next

Lot 623

1955 Fuji Cabin

  • ID No. 57570076

Sold for $126,500

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.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... 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 Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more