Small cars are full of character, fun to drive, and easy to navigate in back alleys.This Mazda Carol 360 Has It All, And scary.
Owner Hiroshi Hagiwara has been obsessed with classic cars since he was a teenager, driving around in grand old American cars. If you ask me, that was the start of a fairly mature car appreciation, so how did he end up owning a small Carroll? Tie car?
Well, this is really just out of curiosity. After years of navigating narrow Japanese lanes in V8-powered boats, Hiroshi-san wondered what it would be like to drive a Japanese subcompact car. The grass is always greener on the other side etc…
If you’re looking for a JDM that’s the antithesis of the old American big irons, there are plenty of options in the classics Tie class. But there was something special about early Mazda subcompacts — they were elegant.
The Subaru 360 was Japan’s first mass-produced passenger car, but it was by no means the prettiest. However, the Mazda R360 — Mazda’s first passenger car — is objectively quite handsome, albeit no bigger than a stroller. Even today, I think Mazda still makes some of the most beautiful cars in the industry.
When the Carol 360 replaced the R360 in 1962, it was an instant hit. In fact, it was so popular that it quickly accounted for nearly 70% of the Japanese market. Tie car market. That’s a lot of numbers for a small car.
If you think your Lamborghini Countach’s obnoxiously sloping toe box is too tight, the Carol isn’t for you. The Carol is just under 3.0m long and passenger space is at a premium.The front wheel arches take up half the footwell, and your feet are so close to the ground that the mental image of Barney rubble Flintstones It’s hard to shake.
Anyway, the 9-inch-tall front wheels and 10-inch-tall rear wheels that Hiroshi-san installed on his Carol were so fat that they required fender flares to keep them in place. They pair perfectly with the one-off front lip and custom fender piping.
There’s no need to go into detail about the suspension setup, because there aren’t. Originally fitted with front and rear torsion bars for a very comfortable ride, these have been removed and the car basically sits on the chassis for an extremely uncomfortable ride, but the tires are mounted very flush with the fender lips.
Just look at the smile on Mr. Hiro’s face.It’s not the calm, knowing gaze of a muscle car owner; it’s the pure, carefree joy of being a tuned classic Tie owner.
The work that went into the powerhouse of the tiny 358cc engine was truly inspiring. At the time of its release, the Carol’s engine was one of the smallest production four-cylinder engines in automotive history.
Hiroshi-san’s engine features large valves, cylinder head intakes, Keihin FCR carburetors, and custom stainless steel headers and exhaust. In the drivetrain there is a lighter flywheel and a taller final drive.
Carol weighs just over 500kg, making her surprisingly small. But when it bounced around the streets of Hachioji, I really feared for my life. I felt as unsafe as I was driving a child’s toy, and the fake plastic yellow roll cage behind me didn’t help my confidence.
That is, this is Unbelievable cool.