13 February 2020
More than an old car #133: Mazda 121
It's not very often that one comes across cute classic cars such as the beloved Mini. However, there are quite a handful of these pint-sized vehicles such as this 1991 Mazda 121 Funtop!
The Autozam Revue, also known as the Mazda 121 in export markets, was first introduced to the public in 1990. Autozam, founded in 1989, was a marque of Mazda, much like how Lexus and Scion are 'sub-brands' of Toyota. It aimed to bring car shops nearer to consumers, and specialised in the sale of mini cars such as the Mazda Carol. Furthermore, it was the distributor of Lancia and Autobianchi cars too. However, as a result of poor economic conditions brought about by the Japanese asset price bubble, Autozam was reabsorbed back under Mazda and the brand name disappeared in 1998. While Autozam stores still exist, they only sell Mazda products instead of their own brand.
The 121 was available as a 4-door sedan only, but some had an optional canvas sunroof and hence known affectionately as the Funtop. 3 different engines were offered along with either manual or automatic transmission. The 121 did not gain much popularity in Japan given the focus on female drivers, as a result of its cute styling and advertising. However, it could fit 4 adults and 2 suitcases comfortably due to its significant trunk space. It was powered by a 1323 cc B3-MI i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 155 km/h with an acceleration of 15 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 3800 mm long and weighed only 890 kg, with a fuel consumption of 7.4 litres/ 100 km.
Production of the Mazda 121/Autozam Revue ended in 1998, where it was replaced by the 4th generation 121 also known as the Demio. Only 57,723 units were made, which caught me by surprise since they were sold regularly in Singapore from 1991! This should be one of the last units remaining: most were scrapped as the owners upgraded to bigger, more practical rides. I was aware of this unit's existence, and was thus fortunate to see it when I had my digital camera. Who wouldn't fall in love with its unique shape? It also seems like a joy to have one and draw eyes wherever one goes. I hope that you'll be able to spot this unique survivor one day!