Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 13th August 2018

Unusual vehicles takes a closer look at convention busting concept cars that push the boundaries of design and technology. This time we’re focusing on the rotary-powered Japanese nostalgic hybrid, that was the Mazda EX-005, a quirky little car that debuted at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show.

Designed For Urban Commuting

The tiny, bubble like vehicle was specifically designed to be an urban commuter car, and featured four seats that positioned the occupants back to back. Each passenger would then face outwards towards the car’s panoramic curved windshields.

It was an experimental electric micro car concept, and the whole thing was controlled not by a steering vehicle, because that would be too conventional – but by a joystick. Its four wheels were arranged in a diamond style orientation, as opposed to the traditional four corners, allowing the the car to turn on its axis with front and rear wheel steering.

A Hybrid Legacy

The Mazda EX-005 unfortunately offered little in the way of comfort, with seats that were moulded plastic. Its weather protection was very minimal, and in regards to crash safety it wasn’t winning any awards.

However, it could be argued that the single-rotor rotary engine that charged the batteries, which in turn powered the electric-drive motors, was somewhat of a far-sighted concept.

Its companion at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, the mid-engined RX-500 sports car, did manage to steal the spotlight at the time – but the hybrid spirit of the EX-005 would eventually return over four decades later with the Mazda Demio/2 RE Range Extender prototype. This prototype would see Mazda continue to experiment with the rotary engine, affixing it to electric versions of its 2 subcompact hatch.

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Image Credit: japanesenostalgiccar