Appeared in the manga “Sunset on Third Street”! Do you know the ultralight car “Flying Feather”?[Push car]| MOBY [モビー]

A minor car from the early days of a light car that surprised me in a retro manga

Anyway, it is certain that it is in the shape of a car, a flying feather

I was surprised to see Flying Feather suddenly appear in one episode of “Sunset on Third Street”, a manga depicting the nostalgic Showa era.

It’s not a major manga subject, but rather, it’s just one of the few cars made in the early days of minicars, known to those in the know. It is a minor car to the extent that it may or may not exist.

However, due to its high aspirations, it often draws attention, and is still exhibited at the Toyota Automobile Museum as one of its historical heritage.

This time, we would like to introduce the rare Flying Feather, of which not even 50 were produced, with images taken at the Toyota Museum.

An ultra-lightweight car that pursued the ideal in post-war Japan

Meters are also thoroughly simple, there is only one auxiliary meter other than the speedometer

To talk about Flying Feather, we cannot miss Ryuichi Tomiya, who was active as an automobile engineer and industrial designer since before the war.

Before the war, Mr. Tomiya joined the manufacturer, which is the root of the current Nissan, and worked on the development of small passenger cars under the “Datsun” brand. It is said that they were involved.

However, in post-war impoverished Japan, he focused on cheap and simple “ultra-lightweight cars” that would be popular among ordinary people. I was involved in the “Fuji Cabin”, a lightweight microcar with an FRP body.

After that, he pursued research into ultra-lightweight cars as his lifelong theme, and had the opportunity to work on similar concept cars at the Tokyo Motor Show. must be.

The “ultra-lightweight cars” that Mr. Tomiya focused on were cars called cycle cars and voiturettes that were popular until the 1920s before the war, and bubble cars and cabin scooters that were popular in Europe after the war. It is a Japanese version of a cheap car.

Even the first-generation “Alto 470,000 Yen”, which was later made by Suzuki, did not go that far, and promoted thorough simplification. I succeeded in making it.

However, during the post-war era of light cars and the current era of ultra-compact mobility, various manufacturers appeared, but most of them ended up just like that. Suminoe Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which made the

Unlike manufacturers that have survived to the present day by steadily accumulating sales results thanks to their sales networks for pre-war 3-wheeled vehicles and trucks, and post-war motorcycles, companies that lacked sales and service systems were unable to function as automobile manufacturers. It couldn’t survive.

It runs, turns, stops, and if it has a roof and windows, it’s fine.

The parent company was a textile manufacturer, and later Suminoe Seisakusho itself developed into a seat manufacturer, Suminoe Kogyo.

The simplification of the flying feather is thorough, and the air-cooled V-type 2-cylinder OHV that diverted Datsun pistons from the engine mounted on the rear, and the mission is also derived from Datsun.

The brakes are not hydraulic, just stepping on the pedal activates the mechanical drum brakes on the rear wheels.

As for the tires, the prototype car was equipped with thin, thin rubber tires for motorcycles, and the mass-produced car was equipped with thin, thin rubber tires for motorcycles. How far could you go before the wheel independent suspension failed?

The cabin does not have a regulator that rotates the window up and down, the lower part of the window can only be pushed open, the speedometer and other instruments are minimal, and the seat covered with cloth on the pipe frame is the same as the Citroen 2CV, and the parent company at that time was Because it was a textile industry, the outer skin was Nishijin textile.

The roof is a hood instead of a metal top, which seems to be more lightweight and simple than sporty.

In the manga “Sunset on Third Street”, even a 3-wheeled car was seen as a luxury, and people looked down on it as “It’s impertinent for a young monk to have a 4-wheeled car.” The convenience of not having to get wet and walk was drawn.

Although it may be too simple, it has something in common with the current ultra-compact mobility in that it can be seen as a decent car just by having a proper roof and doors.

With the advent of “a car with decent sales and service”

It was a great era because it was built as a mini car with a rear engine and only rear brakes.

However, in 1955, when the Flying Feather was released, Suzuki released its first commercially available four-wheeled vehicle, the Suzulight (first generation). It is the time to release and achieve national car success.

No matter how simple it may be, cars that are produced in small quantities by assembling miscellaneous parts or one-off parts at the level of a small town factory and lacking a sales system or service system, will soon disappear and be forgotten, far from being mostly forgotten. It will disappear without you even knowing it.

This happened not only to Suminoe Manufacturing Co., Ltd., but also to all small to medium-sized automobile manufacturers at the time. While prototyping the “KZ360”, we withdrew due to lack of prospects for sales.

Even Kony (Aichi Kikai), Kurogane (Tokyu Kurogane Kogyo, now Nissan Koki), and Hope Motors, which had a certain track record as three-wheeled auto manufacturers, could not survive the 1960s, let alone Suminoe Seisakusho. .

It was only natural that the company would become independent as “Suminoe Kogyo” and withdraw from automobile production in order to focus on its main business as a seat manufacturer.

Only the concept of a simple, inexpensive, ultra-lightweight car survived in small ways as concept cars from various companies, or as a one-seater minicar in the case of practical commercial vehicles, and is currently at the stage of re-evaluation as ultra-compact mobility such as COMS and C+pod. is in

However, a car as “thoroughly reasonable” as the Flying Feather is unlikely to be born, at least in Japan.

After all, the industrial machine called a car is not finished once it is made and sold, but rather the service system from there is the key.

* The author information of the images used in this article is as of the publication date.

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