Mazda’s Amazing Suitcase Car
The seeds of Mazda’s ‘suitcase car’ – a functioning car built into a piece of luggage – had been sown in the run-up to the company’s 1991 ‘Fantasyard’ event, an inter-departmental contest to see which group of employees could come up with the most innovative and creative solution to producing a ‘moving machine’.
The early 1990s were a golden era for Mazda. Mazda had already successfully reimagined the roadster with the MX-5 and won Le Mans with the rotary-powered 787B racer. The perfect time, then, to design a car built into a suitcase.
A select group of seven engineers from the Manual Transmission Testing and Research Group convened and set to work on their creation. They purchased the largest Samsonite suitcase they could find and a Pocket Bike motorbike. The 33.6cc, 1.7hp two-stroke engine, handlebars and 4-6 inch-diameter tyres from the Pocket Bike were then fitted into the suitcase. The rear wheels could be slotted onto the outside of the case while the front wheel would pop through a removable hatch in the front. The suitcase car took just a minute to assemble and had a top speed of 30km/h. While the original prototype was accidentally destroyed just a few months after the Fantasyard event, one suitcase car still remains in existence. And it works as well as it did 24 years ago.
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