Drive Through History
To make better cars we defy convention.
Here are the stories behind every Mazda.
To make better cars we defy convention.
Here are the stories behind every Mazda.
Drive Through History
"Mazda will challenge in all our pursuits. That will never change. We'll always do things differently. That's the way we are." Masahiro Moro
1920 - Mazda is born
Jujiro Matsuda founds the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company in Hiroshima, Japan. His business, logically enough, a cork factory. From this, Mazda would emerge 11 years later as a promising and exciting automobile manufacturer.
Most people wouldn’t think that the next step from a cork factory would be an automotive revolution; then again, who knew there was such a thing as a cork factory?
1931 - First vehicle production
The first vehicle production began when a small 3-wheel truck (Mazda-go) rolled off the assembly line in 1931. The Mazda-go was exported to countries including China and India.
1931 - The Mazda name is born
In 1931 the company first started using the name ‘Mazda’. Derived from the name of our founder Jujiro Matsuda, it’s also an expression of the early Western Asian God Ahura Mazda, the God of wisdom, intelligence and harmony.
1945 - Hiroshima is rebuilt
The people of Hiroshima have a famously ‘can-do’ attitude that we call ‘Challenger Spirit’. It means we persevere, no matter what.
When the atomic bomb fell in 1945, rebuilding started immediately. The Mazda factory was one of the few left standing, so the local prefecture used it as part of the post-war recovery effort.
Mazda’s tenacious and hard-working people were at the centre of the city’s re-birth. New technologies were introduced and new assembly plants were built, helping Hiroshima to recover completely.
1958 - The Mazda Romper
Another Mazda contribution that helped build the new Japan was the Mazda Romper, our first mass-production 4-wheel truck.
A nimble and highly practical vehicle, the Romper was a compact three-seater that became indispensible both in Japan and a growing list of export markets.
1959 - The Mazda logo is born
Mazda unveiled its new logo, a classically bold emblem that came to represent a golden age of style and innovation in automobiles. The crafted contours, sleek lines and silver lustre would mean ‘fun to drive’ for years to come.
1960 - The R360 is Mazda’s first car
Mazda introduces the R360 Coupe, Mazda's first 2-door passenger car, in 1960. With the R360, Mazda took hold of the lightweight vehicle market in Japan.
A compact, two-door, two-seat coupe; it could reach a top speed of about 52 mph and its suspension system was built from rubber springs and torsion bars.
Popular and durable, it was also the lightest passenger vehicle available in Japan and accounted for 64% of the sales in the micro-mini segment.
1961 - Rotary engine
Mazda bought the patent for an alternative engine concept invented by German Felix Wankel and is still the only carmaker to develop it to fruition. Over the next fifty years, we have become synonymous with the rotary engine.
Using combustion to spin a flat disc, rather than move a series of pistons up and down, rotary engines sound smoother and take up less space, which means a car’s body can be sleeker.
A big advantage is that the rotary engine can operate on more revolutions per minute. This makes it ideal for motorsports and cars that are driven for sheer fun, such as Mazdas.
1962 - Mazda Carol
Mazda Carol 600, first Mazda 4-door passenger car is introduced in 1962. Featuring the unique 'cliff-cut' roof design, the Carol was capable of offering all four occupants generous headroom, all in a super compact car.
1967 - Cosmo Sport 110S
In 1967 Mazda introduced its first rotary-engine car to a very impressed world. The Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S was beautifully streamlined on the outside and finely detailed within.
It remains one of Mazda’s most memorable production vehicles.
Its futuristic styling and superb driving performance delighted sports car enthusiasts everywhere; every aspect of the Cosmo represented a successful challenge, from its revolutionary engine to the upholstery's elegant houndstooth design.
This was truly a car to announce Mazda to the world. Reaching top speeds of 185 km/h (115 mph - Series I) and over 200 km/h (124 mph - Series II), it was said that behind the wheel the Mazda Cosmo was ‘more like flying than driving’.
1972 - First European Mazda sales company is founded
After Mazda started exporting cars to Europe in 1967, the First European National Sales Company, Mazda Motor Deutschland was founded in 1972. Mazda also achieves a sales volume of 50,000 cars in 1972, after only 5 years of activity in Europe.
1977 - Meet the
The Mazda 323 was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show '77. Just prior to the show, a Mazda 323 finished a gruelling drive from Japan through southern Asia to Frankfurt, demonstrating Mazda's fearsome reputation for reliability, a reputation the marque has proudly maintained.
1978 - The RX-7 makes its debut
The sharp, modern styling of the original RX-7 owed much to the design of classic British sports cars.
Like today’s Mazdas, the RX-7 was noted for its precision handling and bold performance; in fact top motoring journals on two continents put the RX-7 in their ‘Top Ten Sports Cars of the decade’ lists.
In 1983, Mazda unveiled a turbo-charged RX-7 which was also honoured by motoring journals, internationally. A second generation RX-7 followed in 1985, then a futuristic third generation arrived in 1992, a pure and uncompromising sports car.
Known as the FD, it featured the first mass-produced, sequential twin-turbo engine from Japan, as well as a Bose® stereo system, sunroof and an optional aerodynamics package. The FD was a cult classic around the globe, particularly in the USA, where it scooped many awards.
1985 - Mazda celebrates its 10 millionth car
Mazda celebrated total cumulative production of 10 million passenger cars. From a small part of Japan, Mazda was becoming a world-leading car company, selling 10 million vehicles by 1985.
1988 - Mazda establishes a sales company in Europe
With Mazdas becoming a hugely popular import, it was time to give European customers a more focused service and start developing vehicles especially for the European driver.
After setting up in 1988, Mazda’s European operations became larger and more established throughout the 1990s, with Mazda Motor Europe and the European Research and Design Centre at two locations in Germany and Mazda Motor Logistics Europe in Belgium.
Now Mazda is so firmly a part of the European motoring scene, it’s hard to imagine a European road without a Mazda on it.
1989 - Enter a superstar - the MX-5
Nobody was making roadsters in 1989, yet Mazda saw things differently – why not build a classic British sports car, but reliable and affordable? When the first generation MX-5 arrived in Europe in 1990, it was like no other car.
In an era of sharp lines and wedge shapes, the MX-5 was curvy, cute and fun.
A measure of this idea is how little it’s changed in 20 years. All three generations refined the same concept – a lean, agile sports car with the driver in complete charge and, crucially, a perfect 50/50 weight balance; the best expression of Mazda’s ‘fun-to-drive’ philosophy.
The Japanese phrase ‘Jinba-Ittai’, that roughly translates as ‘the harmony between a rider and his horse’ is our favourite way to describe the MX-5 driving experience; something the ever-growing army of MX-5 fans will always understand.
1991 - Victory at
Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance is one of the most renowned and demanding races in the world. Mazda is still the only Japanese carmaker to win at Le Mans and the 787B is the only rotary-engined car to do so, setting the racing world on its head.
It takes a true feat of engineering and perseverance to even finish the race.
Once again, Mazda was where to look for innovation - after the 787B’s victory, Mazda released a special edition MX-5 in the United Kingdom. It was produced in the racing colour and featured a supercharger.
1991 - First Hydrogen engine is developed
Mazda’s first exploration in hydrogen power was the HR-X. Designed to be the physical embodiment of hydrogen power, the HR-X smoothly blended in with the environment.
Mazda will go on to develop the hydrogen concept further, with a hybrid electric/hydrogen version of the RX-8 being road tested in 2009. The rotary engine is particularly capable when converted to hydrogen, putting Mazda in the best place to make performance cars with hydrogen power.
1992 - The popular Xedos 6 and
The Mazda Xedos 6 was a hugely popular sporty saloon that was available in a multitude of versions and evolutions, one of which was the MX-6.
Most versions of the MX-6 were fitted with Mazda's 4WS system: Four wheel steering offers superior cornering ability, improved precision and a smaller turning radius; another example of Mazda thinking differently to other car makers.
1997 - A new Mazda brand symbol is born
Mazda set out to find the perfect new symbol for the company. Like all Mazda automobiles, it has to be sleek, provocative and capable of inducing a shot of straight adrenaline. It also has to start with the first letter of ‘Mazda’.
The distinctive shape of the wings on the letter ‘M’ embodied the company’s ambitions, as it stretched its wings and soared into the future.
2000 - MX-5 is the world’s most popular roadster
Launched when nobody was making roadsters, the much-imitated (but never bettered) Mazda MX-5 (in its second generation) entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000 as the best-selling roadster of all time.
Selling 400,000 by 1997 to achieve this honour, the MX-5 has since sold over 880,000 vehicles. The definition of ‘classic’, the first generation MX-5 headlights feature in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
2001 - Zoom-Zoom
Mazda introduced a new brand message ‘Zoom-Zoom’ in 2001. There aren't many advertising slogans as long-lasting as Zoom Zoom, especially in the automotive sector.
What does it mean? We like to think it translates as 'Fun-to-drive’, which everyone who owns a Mazda will know is true.
2002 - The Zoom-Zoom generation of cars is born. The Mazda6
The Mazda6 was the first car to arrive after the introduction of our Zoom-Zoom philosophy and the complete revision of the Mazda line up. Offering its owners an exciting drive as well as legendary reliability, the 2002 Mazda6 hit a million sales faster than any other car in Mazda's history.
The Mazda6 is hugely successful, winning acclaim all over the world for its edgy design, communicative handling and sporty suspension.
2003 - The revolutionary RX-8
The muscular-looking RX-8 features the powerful RENESIS Wankel rotary engine, which won International Engine of the Year and Best New Engine awards when the car was released in 2003.
A pair of freestyle doors allows easy access to the back seats and the engine is pushed back, past the front axle, to create excellent 50/50 weight distribution.
The RENESIS engine was smaller and lighter than earlier rotary engines; the body was made of aluminium and plastic and the driveshaft was a carbon composite. This gave the car an extremely low weight and excellent agility, making it a classic driver’s car.
2004 - The new
Mazda3. Style and sportiness
Mazda3 is launched and is named runner-up in the 2004 European Car of the Year competition. The luxurious, lavishly equipped and sporty Mazda3 was launched. Delivering the performance of a more expensive sedan, the Mazda3 redefined what its sector could deliver.
Always a stylish car, the updates in subsequent years kept its looks up-to-date as well as offering more features and engine alternatives.
2005 - Meet the mould-breaking Mazda5
The all-new Mazda5 premiered at the Geneva Auto Show. Mazda took a long look at the people carrier category and saw much that could be improved; for instance, getting in and out in a tight space is notoriously difficult in other multi-person vehicles.
The Mazda5 was an all-new C-MAV, with two sliding rear doors and room for 6 or 7, all of whom can access every row of seats with complete ease.
At the time of it launch, it was the only car in its segment to offer two sliding doors. The Mazda5 was also a surprisingly sporty drive.
2007 - HyNor project
Mazda has spent twenty years continuously researching the hydrogen-fuelled rotary engine, a car with zero CO2 emissions.
In 2007 Mazda signed an agreement to provide RX-8 Hydrogen RE vehicles to HyNor, a national project seeking to create a hydrogen-based fuel infrastructure in Norway.
By 2009 there were nearly 30 such cars on Norwegian roads, all part of the country’s attempt to establish a completely clean energy transport system.
2007 - The CX-7. A different kind of SUV
The Sports Utility Vehicles aren't known for their sporty handling. Always ready for a challenge, Mazda created the Sports Crossover CX-7 in 2007.
Sportier-looking than any other car in its class, the
CX-7 also has handling to match. It’s also a remarkably responsible vehicle, meeting the stringent Euro Stage 5 emissions criteria.
2007 - Meet the lean, agile Mazda2
Mazda2 was launched in 2007 and was chosen as 2008 World Car of the Year. Judges liked its uncompromisingly sporty styling and nimble handling that came from it being approximately 100kilos lighter, yet even stronger and safer than its predecessor - the Mazda2 even achieved the 5-star EURO N-CAP award.
When other cars in the sector were becoming larger and heavier, needing bigger engines and more fuel, Mazda’s Gram Strategy achieved the opposite, producing a sporty, agile winner.
2008 - The further refined Mazda6
The multi-award-winning Mazda6 reflected the brand's ambitious plans to take on the world’s premium car makers. More luxurious than its predecessor, the new Mazda6 is better equipped and even more fun to drive.
In the tough British market, the Mazda6 was the winner of What Car's 'Best Family Car' and 'Best Estate Car' awards in 2010, as well as many other prizes throughout Europe.
2009 - The stunning new Mazda3
Wider and longer, yet lighter than its predecessor, the new Mazda3 was capable of better performance on the same amount of fuel, thanks to our ‘Gram Strategy’ philosophy.
It was quickly acclaimed for its good looks and presence on the world’s most stylish roads.
The Mazda3 was also notable for being the first to be fitted with our unique i-stop system. Learning from the way a bicycle moves quickly from a stationery position, i-stop uses the engine’s remaining combustion energy to restart faster than competitor systems.
2010 - MX-5 20th Anniversary
20 years after its launch, the MX-5 is the best-selling roadster of all time, with owners’ clubs active all over the world. It’s especially popular in Great Britain, the land where the first roadsters were created.
The MX-5 revived the roadster concept, long after it was thought to have disappeared. Each of the 3 generations has refined the original idea. Twenty years later, with the MX-5 going from strength to strength; the idea of a world without roadsters is unthinkable.
2010 - The 90th Anniversary of Mazda
From humble origins to global brand, Mazda’s ninety years (and counting) have seen many changes and, yet, a consistency of thought. Always committed to clever product innovations rather than a marketing-led approach, Mazda will always be a company with engineering at its heart.
When you look at the cars we’ve produced over the years, you’ll see every one is the product of minds that like to challenge the status quo and come up with something cleverer and more fun to drive.
2011 - Mazda looks towards the future
Always looking to the future, Mazda will be making our tenth decade memorable for exciting design and technological breakthroughs.
These include 'Kodo', a new design direction that translates as 'Soul of Motion', derived from the instantaneous movement of animals at the very moment that the motion begins. These principles have already produced the gorgeous Shinari four-door saloon concept.
We will also be producing a range of ultra green engines, including a green diesel power plant. The SKYACTIV range of technologies is set to provide Mazda drivers with extraordinary levels of performance and economy.
For instance, the SKYACTIV-G petrol engine has the highest compression ratio ever achieved by a production petrol engine. It uses 15% less fuel and makes 15% more power – proving that performance and economy can go hand-in-hand.
Watch this space for details as they emerge.