Suzuki Swiftster by Zender

You know why the speedster and other open configurations gained popularity in racing, right? Well, a small reason—and one that influences vintage racing events to this day—is that closed racing cars, without air conditioning, tend to get very hot. And as much as I'd love a Porsche 906 in my parking spot, I suspect its interior on a hot day would be like swimming in a hot tub, only with the added bonus of the smell of hot fibreglass. Mmmm.

Suzuki isn't really popular in racing, unless we're talking about the two-wheeled kind. It's gone from North America, with an exit that was about as gracious as possible—made much easier in the days when a teenaged starlet can dominate the news. In 1991, however, Suzuki was doing well from the looks of things. The Swift was a strong seller and hit had a range of small off-roaders to peddle. 

I'm not sure if Suzuki approached Zender or if the German tuner started dialling numbers in Japan, but it was clear in 1991 that with its Cappuccino not making it to Europe initially that there might be room for a lightweight and fun-to-drive car in the company's range. Solution? Take the 1.3-litre, 101 horsepower Swift GTi and chop the roof off. Give it a cut-down windshield, snazzy graphics, and—let's hope—matching windbreakers to match the car.

You'll notice that the pink and white cars below are subtly different (look at the lettering on the side), and I think that's because of one seemingly unbelievable thing: Suzuki—or Zender, or a combination of both—actually built the Speedster.

And sold it. To people. People!

Here's the really trippy bit: the 1990 production model came out before the 1991 cut-down concept version without much of a windshield. I suspect that the white version was one of the regular production Speedsters (with most of its windshield still intact) that was repainted hot pink and subtly updated for show car duties.

Between 15 and 20 of the Speedsters were made, but the Swiftster remains a one-off…I've included a photo of the production car, in case you want to hunt for one—oh look, here's one

Sources