CC Capsule: 1996 Autozam “Carolls-Royce” – Urine For A Surprise

Nissan gave us the Pike cars, ushering the neo-retro craze. Mitsuoka took that to the next level, essentially becoming a carmaker dedicated to retro. All the big boys, from Subaru to Toyota and from Mitsubishi to Suzuki, started lathering some of their wares in plastichrome. Kit makers flourished, turning your mundane kei truck into a VW Transporter or a Citroën H van lookalike for a small fraction of the cost of the real thing. Surely, someone out there would end up making something unequivocally and purposefully ridiculous.

That would take some doing, given the competition. One would need to start off with the cuddliest little kei car and marry it with something completely opposite. Like a Rolls, for instance. So for the part of the kei car, we have the 1995-98 Autozam Carol – the second iteration of Mazda’s smallest offering.

Here is the standard-issue 2nd gen Carol – the last new car launched under the short-lived Autozam brand. Under the skin, it’s a Suzuki Alto. The rest is all Mazda-designed, and pretty similar to the first generation it was, too. It was a decent enough design, but just like those ‘70s Beetles, someone out there saw this and thought: “Hmmm… That could use a great big fake grille.”

And so history (and comedy) was made. And very well made it was, too: chrome bumpers, fender mirrors and headlight surrounds accompany the giant R-R-style schnozz, to really complete the look.

The rear end did not escape the kit-maker’s vengeful wrath: the rear window was shrunk, rear chrome bumpers added and very mildly Silver Shadow-esque taillights substituted to the stock items. The strangest part, though, is this squarish bit of fiberglass protruding slightly on the hatch.

The crowning achievement has to be the hood ornament, which is an approximate rendition of the Manneken Pis, a famous Brussels bronze statue (and fountain). Maybe this little guy turns around to squirt the windshield when you press the washer button…

Unfortunately, I have not been successful in tracking down the kit maker that created this elaborate joke – the “MM” on the grille is bound to be some sort of clue, but my research has not borne any fruit. In any case, even without its hilarious micturating mascot, the car looks intentionally comical. It’s nice to see that, even in retro-mad Japan, some folks still like to take the piss.