from birth, the car made by Mazda had the lightness between the main features. Just sixty years ago, the japanese launched the R360, a “kei car” (people) that, though little-known outside the borders of japan, in the homeland was a great success.
as for an example, suffice it to say that on the day of its debut on the market, in may of 1960, they were sold only 4,500 units, and at the end of that year, grazed the two-thirds of the segment of kei car, and more than 15% of the entire automotive market national.
Even if it was not the first people on the market, the R360 immediately became the most popular thanks to its design, the lightness, the driving pleasure and convenience, characteristics that added efficiency from the four-stroke engine more quiet, clean and the park in consumption compared to engines of two-stroke present in the models offered by competitors.
in Short, the jump from commercial vehicles produced up to that time, to his first car, turned out to be particularly spot-on with this lightweight city car (380 kg) equipped with a rear-engine two-cylinder, V-360-cc is capable of a power of 16 Hp, and move at a maximum speed of 90 km/h.
On the other hand, the government of the lift, limiting the size of the vehicles in the segment of kei car (3m x 1.3 m) and the cubic capacity of the engine (360 cc), he hoped to support the automotive industry, and home, by encouraging the dissemination of models at affordable prices.
To comply with these limits and get a model with great appeal was, therefore, a careful design work and not being able to change the cubic capacity of the engine, the designers dedicated themselves to the balance between components such as the innovation in the design and the weight that gave origin to the “strategy of the gram”, which then became the bulwark of all Mazda models.
At the end of “care”, the R360 became the lightest in its category, and four places more light in the world. Among the measures adopted by engineers that stand out are the choice of aluminum for the cylinder head and the bonnet, and alloy magnesium for the gearbox housing and the oil pan, while the rear window was made ad hoc in the plexiglass.
Also the monocoque structure without frame offered its contribution to the containment of the weight and a higher safety in case of shocks.
The behaviour on the road was receiving, therefore, an improvement thanks to the lightness, as well as to the independent suspension on all four wheels, which reduce vibration and increase driving comfort, especially on uneven terrain.
Among other things, this elegant compact coupé, in alternative to the manual gearbox, it offered a semi-automatic four-speed transmission, the first example of the japanese auto with torque converter, able to express better the spirit of “Jinba Ittai”, the connection between driver and car.
“However, despite the innovative engineering, and the materials are relatively expensive, a cost-effective production allowed Mazda to keep the price of R360 manual to 300,000 yen (about 830 US dollars) – stress to the headquarters Attractive and accessible, has dominated the market for the kei car since the day of its launch.
The R360 has helped to define the unique philosophy automotive Mazda. The focus on innovation, balance and engineering of the lightness and fun of driving is still prevalent after 60 years.
And his insistence in putting the soul in its products, even if their main purpose is simply to serve as a means of transport accessible to all'. (m.r.)
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