The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 308

1962 Mazda R-360 Coupe

  • ID No. 1082

Sold for $28,750

An exceptionally well-documented example.


Manufacturer: Toyo Kogyo Co.

Origin: Hiroshima, Japan

Production: 23,417

Motor: Mazda 2-cyl., 4-stroke

Displacement: 356 cc

Power: 11 hp

Length: 9 ft. 10 in.

Identification No. 1082

By 1960, Japan was on the upward swing of an economic recovery. Car manufacture had been reinstated in 1949, and this increased competition meant that wholesalers and retailers had to speed up delivery by using private trucks of all sizes. Three-wheeler work trucks and delivery vehicles had become particularly symbolic of the nation’s recovery. Incomes were increasing, the tourist bus business flourished, and ownership of a private car became a national dream. Car production was strictly government-regulated through a series of engine displacement categories, which encouraged manufacturers to get the maximum performance within each category. The small-displacement categories were particularly well suited to Japan’s narrow roads and high-density urban areas. Yet, cars were expensive and hard to come by.

Mazda launched its R-360 on May 28, 1960, to great acclaim. First of all, the price was within reach. At 300,000 yen, this sophisticated little car could not remotely compare with the scooter-like Fuji Cabin, for which 230,000 yen was being asked. Technically very advanced, it featured a monocoque body with light alloy parts, making it, at 840 pounds, the lightest car on the market. Suspension was independent rubber-in-torsion on all corners. The engine was the first four-stroke to be used by a car in this micro-class, meaning better fuel economy than the two-strokes. It used a number of magnesium alloy parts for weight-saving. The gearbox was a four-speed with an unheard-of optional automatic transmission. In fact, it was the first car ever produced in the country with a torque converter. The styling was superb, a jaunty, stylish mix of form and function. Proportions are extremely well handled for such a small car, with a subtle tilt-back of the coupe section giving it a somewhat perky attitude.

It was so highly regarded that a week before its launch there were orders for 4,500 cars in hand, and as a result, the R-360 would be in production for six years. Its advanced design and careful attention to refinement and detail provided a solid base for all of Mazda’s future car production and pointed the way for the entire Japanese auto industry.

This car is a very good, original, unrestored example finished in the body/roof two-tone characteristic of the model. Interesting details appear everywhere, from the triangular buried taillights through to the flat lie-down parking lamps contrasting with the stand-up larger lamps and the speedometer pod above the steering column. It is indeed a very significant car and was purchased from a well-respected collector in Germany. As a one-owner car, he had the original photos of the car upon delivery, as well as its original owner’s manuals, service books, and other impeccable, extraordinary documentation. There is most certainly no other Mazda R-360 as well documented as this one.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

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Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

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David Swig

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California, United States

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Don Rose

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United States

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Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

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Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

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Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

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Kurt Forry

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Matt Malamut

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California, United States

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Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

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United Kingdom

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Ontario, Canada

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Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more