Suzuki has been popular in our market mainly because of the affordable low priced cars and their dirt cheap maintenance. Ever since they stepped in our market, the ‘Suzuki’ badged vehicles were considered apple-of-eye for most automobile buyers of our country with a limited budget.
Suzuki vehicles first appeared in our market during the mid-70s when pickups were being assembled at Naya Daur Motors and Awami Autos Ltd. Later imported Carry minivan also joined the lineup.
However Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited was officially formed in August 1983 as a joint venture between Pakistan Automobile Corporation Limited (PACO, represented by the Government of Pakistan) and Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) Japan. The company started commercial production in 1982/83 and was privatized in September 1992 while SMC progressively increased its equity thus acquiring the stake of PACO. The company today is the largest player in the industry with over 50% market-share and a virtual monopoly in the ever growing small car market.
Pak Suzuki was the first passenger car manufacturer in the industry when the commercial production started in 1984 with the 800cc Suzuki FX as the first vehicle to be produced. However not many people know that the first Suzuki hatchback available in Pakistan, that was never assembled locally was the Suzuki Fronte 7-S, commonly known as Suzuki Custom car in our market.
Suzuki Fronte hatchback with ‘Custom’ badge
The car was produced between 1976 and 1979 and while never been able to become a hot seller, was still available in decent numbers in our market. If you belong to Generation X, you might remember the amusingly recognizable engine sound the Suzuki Custom car used to produce. Designated as a Kei Car in Japan, dimension wise it was almost as same as its successor, the Suzuki FX, however what made it unique was under the hood.
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It was powered by a tiny 443cc three-cylinder 2-stroke water cooled engine. While the FX was a front-engine front-wheel drive car, the Custom was a rear-engine rear-wheel drive vehicle and came equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission. It was available in 2-door as well as 4-door configurations.
You might be thinking that how come a vehicle with just a 443cc 2-stroke engine (29hp) was able to carry 4 or more people around. Well the answer is simple; the Custom car weighed just 530kg. However the car had issues climbing up slopes particularly when it was loaded with passengers.
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During the late 70s, the Suzuki Custom car was available for just around Rs 40,000 which was almost less than half of what any mainstream sellers of that era used to cost.
What made it fade into the history were the tighter emission standards and its rather old architecture. With an old 2-stroke engine that was barely able to meet the Japanese emission requirements, a rear-engine rear-wheel drive layout and a not-so-appealing design, the car saw a hard time attracting the Japanese buyers.
Suzuki was also mainly focused to develop its successor (FX/ Alto) with front-engine front-wheel drive, and a 4-stroke engine, hence the Fronte 7-S was allowed to die with a production span of hardly 3 years. If you had a Suzuki Custom car in the past, feel free to share you experience using the comments section below.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com