Mazda Suitcase Car

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Ok, Ok. I can't exactly surprise you with this one, can I? "Hey, readers, look, it might look like a suitcase but it's actually a…er…hmmm…folding card table?"

No, it's not a folding card table. It's a piece of actual luggage that's been engineered to hold everything you'd need to get from the airport to home (provided you're not going to be going on an actual highway. Or road.)

Apparently, the Suitcase Car was conceived by Mazda engineer Yoshimi Kanemoto as he waited in a line at the airport for a taxi.

"Why can't I just take my luggage off of the carousel and get going?"

And so it went.

If it is left unattended for any amount of time, grown men revert to adolescents and trouble ensues.
— Road/Race Engineering
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My history on the car will differ slightly from other English outlets, as after doing a bit more research have discovered that, since 1976, Toyota has held an idea Olympics of sorts, the Toyota Engineering Society competition. 

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In 1992, Mazda held their own idea competition, Fantasiad. It is for Fantasiad that the suitcase car was finally built—in my estimation, one of (if not the only) vehicle ever built with its mechanicals resting on top of the bodywork!

That year, Mazda and Toyota had a joint event, where one could see fully-functioning stand-up cars, vehicles with basketballs instead of tires, and a two-headed Mazda Carol. (No, I'm not making any of this up.)

Transforming the car was simple:

  • Open the suitcase
  • Attach rear wheels
  • Raise and lock steering column
  • Flip up the lights
  • Pull to start

It has an interesting history, too. Shortly after it was built, the Suitcase Car was crashed and ruined. (Probably a baggage handler?)

This is why in some photos, the chassis is red, while in more recent photos it's black. It was rebuilt in 1994 by Road/Race Engineering in California, who maintains it to this day.

Road/Race Engineering says: "Shown here at speed (up to 27 mph) driven by Mazda's PR chief at the time Mitch McCullough. This leads to the biggest problem with the suitcase car, it is way too much fun. If it is left unattended for any amount of time, grown men revert to adolescents and trouble ensues."

Road/Race Engineering says: "Shown here at speed (up to 27 mph) driven by Mazda's PR chief at the time Mitch McCullough. This leads to the biggest problem with the suitcase car, it is way too much fun. If it is left unattended for any amount of time, grown men revert to adolescents and trouble ensues."

With a 1.7 horsepower 40cc two-stroke engine, it's comfortably the slowest vehicle I've yet featured on Car of the Day—but could still hit a respectable 43 km/h (27 mph) and had a drive time of two hours.

Weight? 31.7 kg, or 70 lbs. And yes, it had functional headlights, brake lights, and turn indicators. 

Fun? Absolutely.

But it's not the only folding car ever made, no sir. But that's a story for another day.

Sources / Recommended reading