Origin of Mazda’s flagship model that continues to the current MAZDA3
The 2nd generation “Familia Rotary Coupe” aimed at popularizing the rotary engine, the 5th generation “Red Familia”, a blockbuster that became a social phenomenon, the 6th and 7th generation that fought as the first full-time 4WD turbo in Japan at the WRC, Riding the wave of the times, the ninth-generation S-Wagon line-up…
Since the launch of the first generation in 1963, the “Familia”, which has always been at the forefront as Mazda’s main mass-market vehicle, was renamed “Axela” in the 2000s, and unified with the international name “MAZDA3”. It continues to be Mazda’s flagship model.
The first generation Familia, which is the root of it, has a 2-door sedan on display at the Mazda Museum and a 4-door sedan on display at the Toyota Museum.
Starting with the 4-door sedan Mazda 1000, the beginning was an 800cc class light van
With the R360 Coupe (1960) and the first-generation Carol (1962), Mazda’s entry into the light four-wheeled passenger car business got off to a good start, but of course it was also looking to enter the compact passenger car market.
In 1961, the “Carol 700,” a 4-door version of the Carol with a 700cc engine, and in 1962, the “Mazda 1000,” an FR 4-door sedan with an independent trunk that was one class higher at the All Japan Auto Show (later the Tokyo Motor Show). Announcement.
The Carol 700 was launched in 1962 as the Carol 600, a few months after the 360cc version. The light van equipped with a 782cc engine announced in 2010 is the first generation “Familia”.
In the background, only 165,000 passenger cars were produced in 1960, and the personal car ownership rate in 1961 was only 12%. There was a judgment that the van was advantageous.
At that time, Toyota’s first generation Publica (1961) was released as a 2-door sedan, but in 1962, in response to strong demand for commercial vehicles, a light van was added. However, the Compano launched in April 1963 started as a light van.
No matter how cheap the 700-1,000cc class compact passenger car is, users who want a “family sedan that only people can ride in” will want a 1,000-1,500cc-class car, and users who want a small but cheap car will want a passenger/cargo vehicle. Otherwise, I couldn’t afford to own one.
For that reason, light commercial light vans were also sold, but there was a high need for commercial vehicles with more performance and more space, and the first generation Familia was released from light vans in line with this reality.
Its design and usability were highly rated, and four months after its release, it became a hit, capturing the top market share of 44% in the same class as mentioned above.
The linear and tight design adopts the idea of a young designer
At that time, Mazda hired domestic industrial designer Jiro Kosugi for its 3- and 4-wheel trucks and minicars, and commissioned Italian carrozzeria (automotive design studio) and Bertone to design small 4-wheel passenger cars, including light vans. was
In fact, the first generation Luce (1966) was modified by Mazda designers based on Bertone’s basic design. According to them, they have adopted the idea of a young designer.
The line that straightly surrounds the upper part of the body under the window from the tip of the bonnet that is lowered at the tip, including the trunk, is similar to the first generation Luce, but the Familia is smaller but deluxe because of the plating molding. I had a feeling.
Instead of straightening the tip of the bonnet, the central part was raised and the tip was slightly elongated, similar to Prince’s 2nd generation Gloria (1962). Finished.
The front mask is very different from the 1962 “Mazda 1000”, and although it is unknown at what stage, it may be that Bertone’s basic design was refined by young in-house designers, just like Luce.
This turned out to be a success, and became the driving force behind winning the top market share in the 700-800cc class light vans.
The added favorite, the sedan also has a share of over 30%
In 1964, the year after the launch of the light van, station wagons, 4-door sedans, and 2-door sedans were released. In 1965, sedans recorded rapid growth, exceeding 30% of the market share, and in 1966, the first Toyota Corolla and the first Nissan Sunny were released. It became a hit product before the first year of my car.
Mr. Tatsuo Hasegawa, who was the chief development officer of Toyota’s Corolla, felt a sense of crisis about the first generation Familia, which had hits in succession with vans and sedans. It is said that he felt strange that there was not.
Especially after 1965, a sporty 2-door coupe and a 987cc engine were added. I can’t.
However, Mazda at that time was in a state where it was not able to allocate sufficient development resources to a practical car with a reciprocating engine because it was focused on the practical use of the rotary engine. The threat had to wait for the fifth generation (1980).
The Familia in the 1960s caused a sensation with its second-generation rotary coupe, but if it hadn’t been for the rotary engine, would it have grown into a compact family sedan that represents Japan, and the history of Japanese cars would have changed considerably since then?
“White engine” and starting crank attracting attention in the first generation Familia
Even though Mazda was devoted to the rotary, it is also an engine shop with a history of developing its own three-wheeled engine before the war, and the inline 4-cylinder OHV all-aluminum “white The engine was top class even at the time.
The coupe was equipped with a newly developed 1,000cc in-line 4-SOHC engine with 68 horsepower and a maximum speed of 145km/h.
In addition, the first Familia introduced new innovations such as the addition of a two-speed automatic transmission, but one interesting thing is that the old-fashioned “engine start crank” was left.
When you flip up the front license plate, there is a hole in the bumper for inserting the crank rod, so you can manually start the engine without relying on pushing.
It’s interesting that it doesn’t rest on new technology, and that it retains the old mechanism as long as it may be needed. The spirit of car manufacturing can be felt from here.
The more you know, the more discoveries there are that make you think, “Maybe Mazda didn’t need a rotary?” not.
* The author information of the images used in this article is as of the publication date.