The First True Success: 1965-1970 Tanaka Aventis (AC01)
While they revealed their Satori, Haruto Tanaka was planning to make another car. The target is that he should not be proud to embarassed to drive it (because it looked small and it looked cheap according to him, but a necessary stepping stone to reach his target), it should be more spacious and it should look premium while being cheap. It should also be more fun to drive than the Satori. With those targets in mind, the designers and engineers would design a car that little do they know would become a success story. Again, they shared most of the parts like the electronics (for the radio, etc), engine parts and some suspension components from the Satori. However, there are some changes. Enter, the 1st generation Tanaka Aventis.
The 1st generation Aventis was introduced in the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show for the 1965 model year. This is Tanaka’s second car and their first RWD car. This car is categorized and taxed as a compact car in the Japanese market, meaning that its engine is under 1000cc. The AB10A1 is almost the same engine as the Satori’s engine, but it has an extra cylinder on it and some slight other changes. However, it no longer drives the car with a chain. Instead, power is delivered through a driveline, to the differential, to the axle and into the wheels. The drivetrain is basically all new. The chassis is also new. This is a RWD exclusive unibody chassis for the Aventis. The rear suspension is not a torsion beam (the Satori uses them!), but instead a semi trailing arm. Enough talking about the car as a whole, let’s talk about the trim levels.
Pics taken on 11 October 1965 in Tokyo by Akira Yatabe, a random bussinessman who managed to buy a 1965 Tanaka Aventis 1000 B as his first car and can apparently afford a camera…
This is 1000B, the base model of the Aventis. The AB10A1 engine produces 46HP and 53lb-ft of torque. It is connected to a 3 speed manual transmission and for the first time, a 3-speed TakaShift automatic transmission. The tires are 120mm wide and the rims are 13-inch steelies with steel hubcaps. There are drum brakes on all 4 corners of the car. The interior is made out of many plastics and cloth and it does not have a radio inside. Hydraulic power steering comes standard. The springs are now progressive across all trim levels. This version only weighs in at 797.2kg, which enables to get the Aventis to achieve 27.8mpg. It is also way faster than even the sportiest Satori, the 700S with a top speed of 90.3mph and an acceleration from 0-60mph in 25.2 seconds, though still painfully slow.
This is the 1000C. The changes from the 1000B includes chrome hubcaps and a basic AM radio. The extra weight increases its fuel consumption to 27.3mpg.
This is the 1100D. The D stands for Deluxe, which makes this the most luxurious version of the Aventis. Changes from the 1000C includes a 100cc increase for the engine which produces 52HP and 59lb-ft of torque as a result, a 4-speed manual transmission chrome steel wheels, standard vinyl seats and standard AM radio. It can achieve 26.5mpg and has a top speed of 94.8mph, the acceleration to 60mph is faster at 21.6 seconds.
The Birth of The Aventis Gazelle, Except Not Really… 1967-1970 1100DG and 1968-1970 1200DG-S
Well, this is the start of the Aventis Gazelle’s. While not explicitly named that, it is basically a sportier coupe version of the Aventis sedan.
For 1967, Tanaka launched the Aventis 1100DG as a the coupe version of the 1100D. Nothing changed except that its on a coupe body. Nothing really special for this one. However the real special version came in 1968 with the 1200DG-S. But in order to understand how this came to be, let’s go back to 1967 with this…
In that same year (1967), Tanaka decided that they were going to enter the rally stage. However, they need to have a homoligated car. They were going use the AB11A1 engine, but found out that the engine made too little horsepower. So, they created the AB12A1 R engine for the race car and the AB12A1 engine for the planned road-going version. They ditched the normal twin single barrel carburetors for the 4 barrel ones. They also made some little changes to the components. The rally cars participated in the 1968 Monte Carlo rally and other events in Europe. They got podium finishes and in order to celebrate it, they built this.
This is the Tanaka Aventis 1200DG-S, introduced in 1968 as a road-going version of the rally car. It uses the AB12A1 engine producing 67HP and 68lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a short ratio 4 speed manual transmission, allowing its acceleration to 60mph decrease to 14 seconds. The gearing does not prioritize fuel economy at all. The tires are now medium compound radial tires and has 14-inch sporty design rims. The brakes in the front are changed to bigger and better 1 piston disk brakes although the rear stayed as drum brakes. The interior is the same as the 1100DG but is equipped with a basic AM radio. The alignment is more cambered and it has the same rear sway bars as the rally cars. The ride height was also lowered. It now has a top speed of 105mph.
The Aventis was a huge success for Tanaka with over 40,000 sold in a year. This enabled Tanaka to expand to most parts of Asia and even reach Europe. With all the money its making, Tanaka decided to celebrate it by making something exotic, something exciting, something that is a dream. Stay tuned for the next car!