This three-wheel K-car* was launched in 1959. It was named after a character in Kimba the White Lion, a popular Japanese manga shonen magazine which ran from 1950 to 1954. The Leo was a runaway best-seller. Production soared to 190,000 units in 1960. Its explosive growth was due to its scooter-like drivability, lower vehicle taxes, a fully enclosed all-steel cabin and seating for two.

*A K-car is a category for a mini-car, built to conform to strict Japanese vehicle size regulations.