Mazda prides itself in innovation – not just in modern times but also in the past wherein the automaker has been eluding the norm. Who would forget when the Japanese marque started selling a roadster at a time when the body type was dying?
Today, Mazda is offering a gasoline engine that uses both spark and compression ignitions (like a diesel) in Mazda3 SkyActiv X – another innovation beyond the norm. But did you know that the company also created a suitcase that transforms into a three-wheeled vehicle in the '90s?
Gallery: 1991 Mazda Suitcase Car
There wasn't a proper name for the said machine but it's called the "suitcase car." Made by a group consisting of seven engineers from Mazda’s manual transmission testing and research unit, the suitcase car concept won the automaker's Fantasyard in-house competition that aims to come up with the best creative mobility ideas. These engineers were given a small budget to create the vision to life.
The final product was a thrill. Using a pocket bike and a 57 x 75 centimeters (22.4 x 29.5 inches) Samsonite suitcase, the trike only takes one minute to assemble. It's powered by a 34-cubic-cm (0.034-liter) two-stroke gasoline engine that makes 1.7 horsepower, allowing speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 miles per hour).
The suitcase car was touted with the Mazda DNA, mostly from its low center of gravity like the MX-5 Miata. It also harks back to the three-wheeled Mazda-Go that was launched in 1931.
Sadly, the suitcase car never made it to mass production because it wasn't entirely practical because of its 32-kilogram (70.5-pound) weight. Imagine carrying that around on trips as second luggage. Then again, as it became a rolling advertisement for automaker, two more were made for U.S. and Europe. The European version was showcased at the 1991 Frankfurt International Motor Show.