Three decades of suitcase car: Why Mazda's tiny vehicle never hit mass market
The year was 1990. The car was a Mazda. The segment was suitcase. If that last bit left you confused, you perhaps won't be alone. Nearly three decades ago, Japanese car maker Mazda had showcased what may still hold the title for being the tiniest car ever. It may never have been given a formal name or ever hit production lines but this cute little machine still warps elements of the future with memories from all that time ago.
The Mazda suitcase car was a result of seven engineers with the company coming together to give their creative sides unrestricted access to engineering ingenuity. Forget high-strength steel, a Samsonite suitcase was used as the outer shell of the so-called vehicle and a two-stroke petrol engine was deployed at its small core. There was 1.7 hp on offer and a speed of around 30 kmph was also possible. There was no steering and instead, the handle of a toy bike was used to allow for this concept car to be given direction to its four tiny wheels.
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It may have caught the world's fancy when it was showcased but the Mazda suitcase car never even came close to being considered for mass production. One of the reasons is that while it appeared extremely portable, it weighed around 32 kilos which means once folded, carrying it around would have been an issue. Mileage was another concern because this would have demanded a refuel after short runs because of its tiny fuel tank size. Mostly though, it was never really meant for retail sales and more a concept to showcase what is possible in the automotive world which was still far away from prospects of self-driving vehicles, electric and hydrogen-powered cars and connected technology.
That was three decades ago, of course.
Much has changed since and while there are portable bikes being sold and even flying cars being tested, the Mazda suitcase car continues to amaze because of how quirky it was all those years ago, and still is for someone taking a look.