Mazda Cars History – Discover The Car Maker’s Origins And More

Mazda Motor Corporation

Mazda Cars History – Mazda Motor Corporation is a Japanese automotive manufacturer based in Fuchū, Japan. The company was named after Ahura Mazda who was a god of the earliest civilizations in West Asia and represented wisdom, intelligence and harmony.

History Of Mazda Cars

Mazda began as a machine tool manufacturer called Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, which was founded in Japan in 1920.

In 1927 Toyo Cork Kogyo renamed itself as Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 1927 and moved from manufacturing machine tools to vehicles, with the introduction of the first vehicle, Mazda-Go in 1931.

During the second world war Toyo Kogyo produced weapons for the Japanese military, most notably was the series 30 through 35 Type 99 rifle.

The company formally adopted the Mazda name in 1984, though every automobile sold from the beginning bore that name. The Mazda R360 was introduced in 1960, followed by the Mazda Carol in 1962.

At the start of the 1960s, Mazda put a major engineering effort into development of the Wankel rotary engine as a way of differentiating themselves from other Japanese auto companies.

The limited-production Cosmo Sport of 1967 became the first vehicle to adopt the rotary engine and it is still being used today in the RX-8. Mazda has become the sole manufacturer of Wankel-type engines mainly by way of attrition (NSU and Citroën both gave up on the design during the 1970s, and prototype Corvette efforts by General Motors never made it to production.)

This effort to bring attention to themselves apparently helped, as Mazda rapidly began to export its vehicles. Both piston-powered and rotary-powered models made their way around the world.

The rotary models quickly became popular for their combination of good power and light weight when compared to piston-engined competitors that required a heavy V6 or V8 engine to produce the same power. The R100 and the famed RX series (RX-2, RX-3, and RX-4) led the company’s export efforts.

During 1968 Mazda started formal operations in Canada although they had been seen in Canada as early as 1959.

In 1970, Mazda formally entered the American market and was very successful there, going so far as to create the Mazda Rotary Pickup for North American buyers. To this day, Mazda remains the only automaker to have produced a Wankel-powered pickup truck. Additionally, they are also the only marque to have ever offered a rotary-powered bus (the Mazda Parkway, offered only in Japan) or station wagon (within the RX-3 & RX-4 line for US markets).

Mazda’s rotary success continued until the onset of the 1973 oil crisis. As American buyers (as well as those in other nations) quickly turned to vehicles with better fuel efficiency, the relatively thirsty rotary-powered models began to fall out of favor.

Wisely, the company had not totally turned its back on piston engines, as they continued to produce a variety of four-cylinder models throughout the 1970s. The smaller Familia line in particular became very important to Mazda’s worldwide sales after 1973, as did the somewhat larger Capella series.

Not wishing to abandon the rotary engine entirely, Mazda refocused their efforts and made it a choice for the sporting motorist rather than a mainstream powerplant. Starting with the lightweight RX-7 in 1978 and continuing with the modern RX-8, Mazda has continued its dedication to this unique powerplant.

This switch in focus also resulted in the development of another lightweight sports car, the piston-powered Mazda Roadster (perhaps better known by its worldwide names as the MX-5 or Miata), inspired by the concept ‘jinba ittai’. Introduced in 1989 to worldwide acclaim, the Roadster has been widely credited with reviving the concept of the small sports car after its decline in the late 1970s.

Mazda Partnership with Ford Motor Company

Mazda’s financial turmoil and decline during the 1960s resulted in a new corporate investor, Ford Motor Company. Starting in 1979 with a 7-percent financial stake, Ford began a partnership with Mazda resulting in various joint projects. During the 1980s, Ford gained another 20-percent financial stake. These included large and small efforts in all areas of the automotive landscape.

This was most notable in the realm of pickup trucks (like the Mazda B-Series, which spawned a Ford Courier variant in North America) and smaller cars. For instance, Mazda’s Familia platform was used for Ford models like the Laser and Escort, while the Capella architecture found its way into Ford’s Telstar sedan and Probe sports models.

In 2002 Ford gained an extra 5-percent financial stake.

The Probe was built in a new Mazda assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan along with the mainstream 626 sedan (the North American version of the Capella) and a companion Mazda MX-6 sports coupe. (The plant is now a Ford-Mazda joint venture known as AutoAlliance International.)

Ford has also lent Mazda some of their capacity when needed: the Mazda 121 sold in Europe and South Africa was, for a time, a variant of the Ford Fiesta built in plants in Europe and South Africa. Mazda has also made an effort in the past to sell some of Ford’s cars in Japan, mainly through their Autorama dealer group.

Mazda also helped Ford develop the 1991 Explorer, which Mazda sold as the 2-door only Mazda Navajo from 1991 through 1994. Ironically, Mazda’s version was unsuccessful, while the Ford (available from the start as a 4-door or 2-door model) instantly became the best selling sport-utility vehicle in the United States and kept that title for over a decade.

Mazda has also used Ford’s Ranger pickup as the basis for its North American–market B-Series trucks, starting in 1994 and continuing through to 2009.

Following their long-held fascination with alternative engine technology, Mazda introduced the first Miller cycle engine for automotive use in the Millenia luxury sedan of 1995.

Though the Millenia (and its Miller-type V6 engine) were discontinued in 2002, the company has recently introduced a much smaller Miller-cycle four-cylinder engine for use in their Demio starting in 2008. As with their leadership in Wankel technology, Mazda remains (so far) the only automaker to have used a Miller-cycle engine in the automotive realm.

Further financial difficulties at Mazda during the 1990s (partly caused by losses related to the 1997 Asian financial crisis) caused Ford to increase its stake to a 33.9-percent controlling interest on 31 March 1997.

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In 1997, Henry Wallace was appointed President, and he set about restructuring Mazda and setting it on a new strategic direction. He laid out a new direction for the brand including the design of the present Mazda marque; he laid out a new product plan to achieve synergies with Ford, and he launched Mazda’s digital innovation program to speed up the development of new products.

At the same time, he started taking control of overseas distributors, rationalized dealerships and manufacturing facilities, and driving much needed efficiencies and cost reductions in Mazda’s operations.

Much of his early work put Mazda back into profitability and laid the foundations for future success. Ford executive Mark Fields, who took over as Mazda’s CEO later, has been credited with expanding Mazda’s new product lineup and leading the turnaround during the early 2000s.

Ford’s increased influence during the 1990s allowed Mazda to claim another distinction in history, having maintained the first foreign-born head of a Japanese car company (starting under Henry Wallace ).

Mazda Cars History - Discover The Car Maker's Origins And More

Amidst the world financial crisis in the fall of 2008, reports emerged that Ford was contemplating a sale of its stake in Mazda as a way of streamlining its asset base. On November 18, 2008, Ford announced that it would be selling a 20% stake in Mazda, bringing its stake to 13.4%, and surrendering control of the company.

The following day, Mazda announced that, as part of the deal, it was buying back 6.8% of its shares from Ford. It was also reported that Hisakazu Imaki would be stepping down as chief executive, to be replaced by Takashi Yamanouchi.

Marques

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Mazda had previously used a number of different marques in the Japanese (and occasionally Australian) market, including Autozam, Eunos, and Efini, which have since been phased out. This diversification stressed the product development groups at Mazda past their limits.

Instead of having a half-dozen variations on any given platform, they were asked to work on dozens of different models and consumers were confused as well by the explosion of similar new models. One of the oddest sub-marques was M2, used on three rare variants of the Eunos Roadster (the M2-1001, M2-1002 and M2-1028) and one of the Autozam AZ-1 (M2-1015). M2 even had its own avant-garde company headquarters, but was shut down after a very short period of operation.

Today, the former marques exist in Japan as sales channels (specialized dealerships) but no longer have specialized branded vehicles. The Carol is sold at the Autozam store (which specializes in small cars), but it is sold with the Mazda marque, not as the Autozam Carol as it once was.

In early 1992 Mazda planned to release a new luxury marque, Amati, to challenge Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus in North America, which was to begin selling in late 1993.

The initial Amati range would have included the Amati 500 (which became the Eunos 800 in Japan and Australia, Mazda Millenia in the U.S., and Mazda Xedos 9 in Europe), a luxury sports coupe based on the Mazda Cosmo and the Amati 1000 (a rear-wheel drive V12 successor to the Mazda 929). The Amati marque was eventually scrapped before any cars hit the market.

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In Europe, the Xedos name was also associated with the Mazda Xedos 6, the two models were in production from 1992 until 1997. The Xedos line was marketed under the Mazda marque, and used the Mazda badge from the corresponding years.

Mazda Emblems

Used between 1962–1975,
Symbol and corporate mark as seen on most Mazda cars from the Mazda R360 until 1975 .

Used between 1975 and 1991,
Mazda did not have an official symbol during this time, only a stylized version of their name; the previous blue “m” symbol was still used in some dealerships up until the 1980s, but later on a plain blue square next to the Mazda name was often used on dealer signs and documentation

Used between 1991 and 1992,
In 1991, Mazda adopted a corporate symbol which was to represent a sun and a flame standing for heartfelt passion.

Used between 1992 and 1997,
Shortly after the release of the new symbol, the design was smoothed out to reduce its similarity to Renault’s. This is sometimes referred to as the “eternal flame” logo.

Used from 1997 till present day,
A redesigned symbol was introduced in 1997. It’s stylized “M” is meant to show Mazda stretching its wings for the future, and is also sometimes referred to as the “owl” logo. The symbol is still in use today.

Mazda Cars History In Racing

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In the racing world, Mazda has had substantial success with both their signature Wankel-engine cars in two-rotor, three-rotor, and four-rotor forms as well as their piston-engine models. Mazda vehicles and engines compete in a wide variety of disciplines and series around the world. More Mazdas are raced every week than any other car brand.

Mazda also maintains sponsorship of the Laguna Seca racing course in California, going so far as to use it for their own automotive testing purposes as well as numerous racing events.

Mazda Cars History In Marketing

Since 2000, Mazda has used the phrase “Zoom-Zoom” to describe what it calls the “emotion of motion” that it claims is inherent in its cars. Extremely successful and long-lasting (when compared to other automotive marketing taglines), the Zoom-Zoom campaign has now spread around the world from its initial use in North America.

The Zoom-Zoom campaign has been accompanied by the “Zoom Zoom Zoom” song in many television and radio advertisements. The original version, performed by Jibril Serapis Bey (used in commercials in Europe, Japan and South Africa), was recorded long before it became the official song for Mazda as part of a soundtrack to the movie “Only The Strong” which was released in 1993.

The Serapis Bey version is a cover of a traditional Capoeira song, called “Capoeira Mata Um”.

Watch the video below to here the original Brazilian soundtrack which is used during Capoeira fight displays.

In 2010, their current slogan is “Zoom Zoom Forever”. The longer slogan (Used in TV ads) is “Zoom Zoom, Today, Tomorrow, Forever”.

Early ads in the Zoom-Zoom campaign also featured a young boy whispering the “Zoom-Zoom” tagline, who eventually was referred to as the “Zoom-Zoom Kid”

This is a list of Mazda automobile models. Most Mazda vehicles have a different name for the Japan home market than is used for the rest of the world. Both names are included below with the more consistent Japanese names first.

Mazda Cars Lineup As Of 2010

1931-1960 Mazdago three-wheel truck
1960-1966 R360 keicar sedan
1961-1962 P360/P600 “Carol” keicar sedan
1961-1964 B1500/Proceed pickup truck
1961-1966 B360/B600 keicar pickup truck
1964-1966 Familia/800 compact car
1965-1971 B1500/Proceed pickup truck
1966-1973 Luce/1500/1800/R130 luxury car
1966-1977 Bongo small minivan
1967-1972 Familia/1000/1200/1300/R100 compact car
1967-1972 Cosmo Sport 110S sports car
1968-1977 E360/Porter small pickup truck
1970-1976 Capella/616/RX-2 midsize car
1971-1978 Savanna/RX-3 coupe
1972-1977 Chantez keicar
1972-1977 Luce/RX-4 luxury car
1973-1976 Familia/808/818/Mizer compact car
1974-1977 Rotary Pickup (REPU) pickup truck
1974-1981 T3000 minibus
1975-1978 Roadpacer fullsize car
1975-1980 Cosmo/RX-5 luxury car
1976-1984 121 compact car
1977-1981 Luce Legato luxury car
1977-1982 Capella/Montrose/626 midsize car
1977-1983 Familia/GLC compact car
1978-1982 Bongo small minivan
1978-1984 Savanna/RX-7 sports car
1980-1984 Familia/323 compact car
1981-1986 929/Luce luxury car
1982-1986 Mazda T3000 minibus
1983-1987 Capella/626 midsize car
1983-1988 Bongo small minivan
1985-1988 Familia/323 compact car
1985-1992 Savanna/RX-7 sports car
1985-1995 121/Demio compact car
1986-1991 929/Luce luxury car
1986-1992 Mazda T3500 minibus
1988-1992 Capella/626 midsize car
1988-1992 MX-6 coupe
1988-1998 MPV minivan
1989-1990 Carol keicar
1989-1993 Familia/323 compact car
1989-1994 Bongo small minivan
1989-1998 MX-5/Miata (first generation) convertible sports car
1990-1994 Carol keicar
1990-1998 929/Sentia luxury car
1991-1994 Mazda Navajo SUV
1992-1997 AZ-3/MX-3 coupe
1993-1997 MX-6 coupe
1993-1997 Cronos/626 midsize car
1993-2002 Millenia/Xedos9/Eunos 800 luxury car
1993-2002 RX-7 sports car
1994-1999 Familia/Protegé/Etude/323 compact car
1994-2003 AZ-Wagon station wagon
1995-1998 Bongo small minivan
1995-1998 Carol keicar
1996-2005 121/Demio compact car
1998-2002 Capella/626 midsize car
1998-2003 AZ-Offroad SUV
1998-2005 MX-5/Miata (second generation) convertible sports car
1999-2000 Carol keicar
1999-2000 Laputa keicar
1999-2004 Bongo small minivan
1999-2005 Premacy small minivan
1999- MPV minivan
2000-2003 Familia/Protegé/323 compact car
2001-2005 Carol keicar
2001- Mazda Tribute SUV
2001-2006 Laputa keicar
2002- Spiano keicar
2003- RX-8 sports car
2005- MX-5 (third generation) convertible sports car

Current Mazda Models

Mazda 2
Mazda 3 / Mazdaspeed3
Mazda 5
Mazda 6
Mazda B-Series Truck
Mazda CX-7
Mazda CX-9
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda RX-8
Mazda Tribute

Other Mazda marques

Amati (Never launched)
Amati 300 (Eunos 500)
Amati 500 (Mazda Millenia)
Amati 1000

Autozam

1990-1994 Autozam Carol keicar (Suzuki Alto)
1990-1994 Autozam Revue subcompact car (Mazda 121)
1990-1994 Autozam Scrum mini-minivan (Suzuki Carry)
1991-1994 Autozam AZ-3 coupe (Mazda MX-3)
1992-1993 Autozam Clef sedan (Mazda 626)
1992-1994 Autozam AZ-1 mid-engine sports car

Efini

1990-1997 Efini MPV (Mazda MPV)
1991-1993 Efini MS-6 (Mazda Cronos)
1992-1997 Efini MS-8
1991-1993 Efini MS-9 (Mazda 929)
1991-1996 Efini RX-7 (Mazda RX-7)

Eunos

1989 Eunos 100 (Mazda Familia BG platform)
1989 Eunos 300 (MA platform)
1992-1993 Eunos 500
1993-1996 Eunos 800 (Mazda Millenia)
1990 Eunos Cargo (SS platform)
1990-1991 Eunos Cosmo (Mazda Cosmo JC platform)
1991-1993 Eunos Presso/30X (Mazda MX-3 EC platform)
1989-1996 Eunos Roadster (Mazda MX-5 NA platform)

Xedos

1993-1999 Xedos 6 (Eunos 500)
1993-2002 Xedos 9 (Mazda Millenia)

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