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On January 30, 1920, Jujiro Matsuda (1875-1952) forms Toyo Cork Kogyo, a business that makes cork, in Hiroshima, Japan; just over a decade later the company produces its first automobile and eventually changes its name to Mazda. Today, Mazda is known for its affordable, quality-performance vehicles.
In 1931, the company launched the Mazda-Go, a three-wheeled vehicle that resembled a motorcycle with a cargo-carrier at the back. The company’s car development plans were halted during World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima. In the 1950s, Mazda began making small, four-wheel trucks. The company launched its first passenger car, the R360 Coupe, in 1960 in Japan. Seven years later, Mazda debuted the first rotary engine car, the Cosmo Sport 110S. Mazda entered the American market in 1970, with the R100 coupe, the first mass-produced, rotary-powered car in the U.S. In 1978, the Mazda RX-7, an affordable, “peak-performing” sports car debuted. The following year, the Ford Motor Company took a 25 percent stake in the company.
In 1989, at the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda unveiled the MX-5 Miata, a two-door sports car carrying a starting price tag of $13,800. According to Mazda, the concept for the car was: “affordable to buy and use, lightweight, Jinba Ittai (‘rider and horse as one’) handling, and classic roadster looks.” The 2000 “Guinness Book of World Records” named the Miata the best-selling two-seat convertible in history.
In 1991, in another milestone for the company, a Mazda 787 B won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, becoming the first rotary-powered car as well as the first Japanese-made auto to do so. However, Mazda was impacted by the economic slump in Japan in the 1990s and in 1996, Ford took a controlling stake in the automaker and rescued it from potential bankruptcy. The two companies shared manufacturing facilities in several countries along with vehicle platforms and other resources. In 2008, Ford, which had been hurt by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales, relinquished control of Mazda by selling 20 percent of its controlling stake for around $540 million. (Also that year, General Motors sold its stake in Japan-based Suzuki Motor.)
In 2009, Mazda celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata, whose sales by then had topped nearly 900,000 and which had won almost 180 major automotive awards.
A brief history of Mazda
[vc_empty_space height=px”]In 2015, Mazda produced 1.5 million vehicles for global sales. It was also the fifteenth biggest automaker by production worldwide.
But it hasn’t been plain sailing for Mazda. The car manufacturer has had some bumps along the way. In this article, we look at the history of the Japanese automaker, and how they became the manufacturer we know and love today. JTNDY2VudGVyJTNFJTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI1NjAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzMTUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGQ0tCR3VsT0Q1eGMlMjIlMjBmcmFtZWJvcmRlciUzRCUyMjAlMjIlMjBhbGxvdyUzRCUyMmF1dG9wbGF5JTNCJTIwZW5jcnlwdGVkLW1lZGlhJTIyJTIwYWxsb3dmdWxsc2NyZWVuJTNFJTNDJTJGaWZyYW1lJTNFJTNDJTJGY2VudGVyJTNF
2017 Mazda3 hatchback | Mazda
While Mazda3 is the brand’s least expensive vehicle on sale in America, it actually packs some oomph. Specifically, the hatchback 3 has been clocked sprinting to 60 miles per hour in 7.4 seconds. This S model outperformed the sedan handily in Motor Trend’s testing. Powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine, the Mazda3 can make up to 185 horsepower and reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour. That’s a lot of zoom for under $20,000.
Proposed logo for Mazda's stillborn Amati luxury division
Mazda has used a number of different marques in the Japan market, including Autozam, Eunos cars, and Anfini, although they have 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.
Today, the former marques exist in Japan as sales channels (specialized dealerships) but no longer have specialized branded vehicles. In other words, 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 the early 1990s Mazda almost created a luxury marque, Amati, to challenge Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus in North America. In Europe, the equivalent Xedos marque was launched, lasting just a few years. The initial Amati products would have been the Amati 500 (which became the Mazda Millenia), and the Amati 1000 (a new rear wheel drive V12 successor to the Mazda 929). This never happened, leaving the near-luxury Millenia to the Mazda brand.
Volkswagen – Founded 1937
VW was founded by the German Labor Front with the goal to make a car for the German populous. From this came the Beetle. The Beetle was sold from 1938 until 2003, making it the longest-running and most manufactured car of all time especially if you regard the 'New Beetle' a continuation of its bloodline, which added another 16 years to the lifespan.
Audi – Founded 1910
Audi, previously managed by Daimler Benz, came under the control of VW in the 1960s. With the Audi name kept dormant for a period of 25 years under Daimler, it was revived in 1965. Today, the brand is one of the world’s leading premium manufacturers.
Lamborghini – Founded 1963
Today, Lamborghini is owned in its entirety by Audi, which as of 2011 provided the stability of its backing. The brand currently produces some of the most desirable cars in the world, including the Huracan, Aventador and most recently, its Urus SUV foray.
Bentley – Founded 1919
The British company known for its luxury sports tourers was a standalone company for 12 years before being taken over by Rolls-Royce. Then, when Rolls went bankrupt in 1980, Bentley was sold to Vickers PLC. Finally VW revived the brand when it was purchased in 1998.
Bugatti – Founded 1909
Bugatti was originally known for its design beauty, founded by the Italian artist and constructor Ettore Bugatti. However, after Ettore died in 1947 the company fell apart and became defunct as a carmaker in the 1960s. It was revived in 1987 for a few years by Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, and then eventually acquired by VW in 1998.
Skoda – Founded 1895
Not fully controlled by VW until 2000, Skoda in its current iteration was aimed at being the group’s entry-level brand, providing cheaper cars than that of Volkswagen, yet using engines and technology common to both marques. Clever design ideas have helped the brand to retain its own identity.
Porsche - Founded 1931
After decades operating independently and as one of the world's most profitable car companies, Porsche was eventually swallowed whole by Volkswagen in 2012. It followed four years of attempts by Volkswagen to acquire the company in which time it succeeded in buying 49.9 per cent.
The ultimate settlement and merger hid an ugly power struggle in which both companies tried to by out each other with Volkswagen emerging the victor.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – Founded 2014
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles formed as a group relatively recently, after Fiat upped its investment and took full ownership of Chrysler and its American subsidiaries.
Fiat – Founded 1899
Italy’s largest car brand, while not particularly prominent in Australia, is a powerhouse in Europe. While Fiat is technically a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler, it holds all control and is best known for its small cars including the Panda, Punto and retro-styled 500 which is available in Australia.
Abarth – Founded 1949
Abarth was formerly a standalone road and racing car producer before its founder Carlo sold the company to Fiat in 1971. By 1981 the brand ended production until it was revived in 2007.
In Europe, the 124 Spider is sold as a more affordable Fiat-badged version, but in Australia, only the most powerful Abarth 124 is offered. You can also find high-performance versions of the 500 wearing the same scorpion badge.
Chrysler – Founded 1925
Chrysler is one of America’s largest car manufacturers however it had to be saved, primarily by Fiat in 2009, following the US automotive industry crisis. Fiat then took full ownership of the American brand in 2014.
Only one Chrysler model is currently sold in Australia - the 300 large sedan.
Dodge – Founded 1900
Under the Chrysler umbrella, Dodge became a subsidiary of the Fiat group in 2009, having also previously been involved with Daimler. Dodge is responsible for both the RAM and SRT subdivisions, RAM being for its large 4x4 trucks and SRT for performance cars.
Jeep – Founded 1941
Jeep is perhaps best known for its small durable 4x4 vehicles built specifically for the US military. Civilian models then became available in 1945.
The company has been owned by several brands, including AMC (with Renault), Chrysler, Daimler, and now Fiat. Among many company icons, the seven-slot grille is perhaps the most famous and is worn by every model.
Alfa Romeo – Founded 1910
The Italian brand known for its sports cars and racing exploits was founded more than a century ago. Today it is another subsidiary of FCA, becoming a part of the group in 2007.
Lancia – Founded 1906
Despite being sold only in Italy in modern times, Lancia is still a well-known brand thanks to its highly successful motorsport endeavours, including famous rally cars like the Stratos, Delta and 037. It came under the Fiat umbrella in 1969.
The birth of the MX-5 Roadster icon
In 1989, the most sporty Mazda yet turns a vision into reality. The vision of the American motor journalist Bob Hall and Mazda’s Head of Development and later Executive Director, Kenichi Yamamoto.
Two car enthusiasts who designed a desirable and affordable open-top roadster based on English lines, but combined with the all-year suitability of modern convertibles, and technology which is as efficient as it is reliable.
On February 11 1989, this roadster dream celebrated its highly acclaimed public première at the Chicago Auto Show as a Mazda MX-5, or Mazda Miata, as it is called in America. This is the beginning of an unprecedented success story spanning four MX-5 generations so far.
Mazda European Research & Development Centre
In 1990, the European Mazda Research & Development Centre opens in Oberursel near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is one of three Mazda development centres worldwide set with the task of design and technical innovation. The Mazda European Research & Development Centre works together with the Japanese headquarters in model development, from the first draft to the finished vehicle, focussing on the conditions and requirements of the European market.
Victory at the 24-hour Le Mans
It is the ultimate challenge for engine quality and reliability and automotive technology. Which is why endurance races mark not only sporting milestones in Mazda’s motorsport history (which began in 1968), but most importantly its toughest tests for man and machine. In 1991, Mazda secures the most important record in the history of motorsport at the world’s top endurance race for sports cars, the 24-hour Le Mans. Mazda takes overall victory on the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe, becoming the first and only Japanese manufacturer to date to triumph in the race, proving the unprecedented superiority and strength of the 515 kW/700 HP four-rotor rotary engine in the 787 B sports car.
Back to the core brand
After Mazda withstands some turbulent times due to currency fluctuations in some export markets, sales on the domestic market strengthen in the 1990s with its new distribution networks, Eunos, Autozam, Autorama and Afini. With its sleek and technically innovative models, the Xedos 6 and Xedos 9, Mazda penetrates the premium segment in Germany. But the variety of brands creates problems in distribution, which Mazda resolves by returning to its core brand and having a closer financial partnership with Ford. In 1996 Ford increases its equity stake, retaining 33.4% of Mazda. It is not until 2008 that Ford cuts its shares back to 11%, and in 2015 it lies at just 2.1%.
Zoom-Zoom becomes the Mazda brand ambassador and the launch of a model offensive
In 2002, Zoom-Zoom becomes the global Mazda brand ambassador and the symbol of a new era for one of the most emotive car brands out there. This includes the largest model offensive in the company’s history, which begins in 2002 with the Mazda6 and continues with the compact Mazda3, the Mazda2 sporty city car , the compact van Mazda5, the SUV Mazda CX-7, a new generation of the cult roadster Mazda MX-5, and the Mazda RX-8 as the world’s only sports car with a rotary engine.
New model offensive and a new brand message
Rethinking everything: the Mazda 6
A new design era marked by the Mazda6. The intermediate models line up as the first Mazdas of the Zoom-Zoom era, winning several comparison tests from the outset and, like the Mazda 626, heading for the top of the import charts. From 2006, sporting emotions come in the form of the Mazda6 MPS with a 191 kW/260 HP turbocharged petrol engine. The production of the Mazda6 reaches the one million mark as early as February 2006.
When different is better: the Mazda3
Designed in the Zoom-Zoom style, the all-new Mazda3 will shake up the compact class. Just like the Mazda 323 did before, which was sold in nearly 800,000 units in over 25 years in Germany alone. The Mazda3 is a true sensation that brings a breath of fresh air to the most popular car segment on the domestic market. From the outset, the Mazda3 is one of the most dynamic, efficient but also spacious models of the compact class, a direction still followed by today’s third generation of the Mazda3.
Vision Sustainable Zoom-Zoom sets out fuel consumption reductions
Against the backdrop of ever more apparent climate change, reducing emissions is a key goal that determines Mazda’s business activities. By improving fuel efficiency, Mazda manages to reduce the consumption of sold vehicles by 30% between 2001 and 2008. Building on this success, in 2007 Mazda launches the long-term Zoom-Zoom sustainability programme, the first step of which is to reduce the fleet’s global consumption by another 30% by 2015 with a brand new engine and vehicle generation. Sustainable Zoom-Zoom is visualised in the study Kiyora, among others.
Advanced fuel cell technology
Ecologically sustainable drive systems are an integral part of Mazda research work, with its focus on the use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source. In the RENESIS hydrogen rotary motor, fuel cell technology uses the energy from the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to power an electric motor. This technology, tested since the early 1990s in Mazda concept cars, provides the basis for the first Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE. A futuristic vehicle with a hydrogen and petrol fuel compatible rotary engine which goes to field trials in 2006 and is used in a large-scale project in Norway from 2008.
With SKYACTIV into the future
How can you combine low power consumption and minimum emissions with outstanding performance? With the ground-breaking SKYACTIV drive technology, which Mazda launched in 2010. With their inherent passion for research, Mazda engineers developed an unconventional technology package comprising safety devices, lightweight construction, innovative transmissions and highly efficient engines with the world’s highest compression ratio. All this so that every Mazda can harmoniously marry maximum efficiency with ultimate driving pleasure and safety. SKYACTIV is an integral drive concept ranging from the engine to the gearbox, to the chassis and body.
KODO design and SKYACTIV in the new Mazda CX-5
In 2012, the Mazda CX-5 becomes the first production model in the new Mazda design language “KODO – Soul of Motion”, boasting the complete range of innovative SKYACTIV technology. Inspired by the power and beauty of the natural movements of animals, the KODO design expresses something that the Mazda philosophy makes unique: the primal, intensive joy of movement. After just two years in production, one million Mazda SKYACTIV models have already been sold. As the Mazda CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3. The Mazda3 SKYACTIV HYBRID is also launched in Japan in 2013 with a combination of petrol and electric propulsion.
In 2016 Mazda celebrates a most exceptional production anniversary after just four years, more than three million Mazdas with SKYACTIV technology and KODO design are delivered. Including the first new Mazda MX-5s. The fourth generation of the sports car is the lightweight of the roadsters thanks to the latest SKYACTIV technology. In the stunning design of the winning sports car, RX-Vision, Mazda presents the next-generation rotary engine, the SKYACTIV-R. Like all Mazda production models, the RX-Vision reflects the brand values technology, design and driving pleasure.
The Mazda RX-7 stands out as one of very few successful cars powered by a Wankel rotary engine. Mazda committed to a “make or break” effort to create a name for their company based on rotary engine technology, and where German company NSU and French company Citroën did not succeed Mazda did: and that was a feat of epic proportions. The RX-7 was the sports car created out of that technological effort and it turned out to be one of the greatest sports cars ever created because of the unique characteristics of the rotary engine that especially suit a sports car or a touring car.
Will we see a return to rotary engine technology by Mazda or is that season now at an end? No-one really knows the answer to that question at this stage. It may be that Mazda has established its name and credentials such that it does not need to take another gamble on rotary engine technology, at least not yet at this time in history. As it now is Mazda’s RX-7 stands out as a legendary sports cars that has earned its place in automotive history, it is an icon of the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Photo Credits: Mazda.
Jon Branch has written countless official automobile Buying Guides for eBay Motors over the years, he’s also written for Hagerty, he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome and the official SSAA Magazine, and he’s the founder and senior editor of Revivaler.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine, and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China, and Hong Kong. The fastest thing he’s ever driven was a Bolwell Nagari, the slowest was a Caterpillar D9, and the most challenging was a 1950’s MAN semi-trailer with unexpected brake failure.
This article and its contents are protected by copyright, and may only be republished with a credit and link back to Silodrome.com - ©2021
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Eunos Cosmo: Series JC (1990-1996)
The last car to wear the “Cosmo” name was Mazda’s Eunos Cosmo of the Series JC. Eunos was Mazda’s luxury brand name similar to Toyota’s Lexus. The Eunos Cosmo was a superb successor to the original Mazda Cosmo and outstripped even the Cosmo Rotary Turbo which was itself a fabulously exciting car.
The Eunos Cosmo was made with two engine options: The smaller engine was the twin turbocharged 13B-RE which featured twin 654cc rotors giving total capacity of 1,308cc. This engine was fitted with a Hitachi HT-15 primary turbocharger and a smaller HT-10 secondary. Engine power was 235hp.
The larger engine was the triple rotor 20B-REW. This was the first triple rotor production car engine in the world, and the first to be fitted with twin sequential turbochargers. The rotors of this engine were the same capacity as the 13B-RE i.e. 654cc, and with three of these rotors the engine capacity became 1,962cc. This engine was mated to an electronically controlled four speed automatic transmission and produced 300hp. Torque was 280lb/ft torque @ 1,800rpm: suffice to say its performance was nicely adequate.
The Eunos Cosmo was made as a 1990’s cutting edge technology luxury vehicle and boasted a built in GPS navigation system, and the Palmnet serial data communication system for ECU-to-ECAT operation. Not content with that the car was fitted with what we would nowadays regard as an “old school” CRT touch screen for control of the climate control system, mobile phone, GPS, TV, radio and CD player.
The Eunos Cosmo marked a return by Mazda to an expensive limited production sports coupé and it was never exported but only made for the Japanese market. In Japan it was speed limited to 180km/hr 118.8mph) but if that speed limiter was disabled it could reach 255km/hr (158.4mph).
Mazda sold just 8,875 Eunos Cosmos with about 60% of those cars being fitted with the twin rotor 13B-RE engine and 40% being fitted with the triple rotor 20B-REW. It was an expensive automobile and after production ended in September 1995 Mazda did not make another vehicle in the same price bracket again.
Jujiro Matsuda is the man who founded a company known as Mazda Motor Corporation today.
Growing up and spending his early years in an environment that was
far from peaceful and well-endowed, Jujiro was constantly driven by his passion for manufacturing.
Read on to learn more about his life and philosophy that shaped Mazda’s DNA celebrated by all those involved with the company over the course of a century.
Years of adolescence: growing passion for manufacturing when Jujiro realized his desire to dedicate his life to the machine industry.
Jujiro Matsuda was born in 1875 in Hiroshima as the youngest of 12 siblings. Unable to attend school, he moved to Osaka at age 13 to work and live with a blacksmith. During his tenure, he realized that he wanted to dedicate his life to the machine industry. Driven by a desire to learn advanced engineering skills, he began to work with different factories including shipyards and arsenals. To learn more about machinery and manufacturing, he used work breaks to visit and learn from other factories.
Introducing "the Exclusive Patented Matsuda Pump" produced in a cowshed-turned factory.
Jujiro founded "Matsuda Seisakusho" in Osaka at age 31 by renting a tiny, 33 square meter cowshed. Business did not go as planned Jujiro had setbacks when he learned that a product he spent years on development was already on the market, but that did not deter his determination. He studied existing products by breaking them down into pieces, made some modifications and introduced "the Exclusive Patented Matsuda Pump".
True to his belief that quality machinery was essential to producing products that delighted users, he aggressively imported and introduced the most advanced manufacturing machines from overseas.
"Lifetime Dedication to a Single Business" : a revelation after the tragic fire that burnt down the entire factory.
In 1918, in his mid-40s, Jujiro went back to Hiroshima and founded "Hiroshima Matsuda Seisakusho". By this time, he was widely respected as a successful business person. 2 years later, he was persuaded to join ailing Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. Even though the company did not operate in his specialized sector, Jujiro stood up to a new challenge. Determined to revive the company, he came up with new product ideas, including manufacturing of compressed cork board. After being appointed President of Toyo Cork Kogyo to succeed the former President who was forced to retire due to illness, he struggled to produce a new cork product that could be used as a thermal insulating and shock absorption material. The new product’s success helped the company to get back on track.
Toyo Cork Kogyo’s business success, however, was short lived. In 1925, the entire factory was destroyed by fire. Faced with huge debts, Jujiro was further shocked by loss of employees by the fire. Reflecting on this grave incident, he reconnected with his passion and was determined to rebuild the company by shifting business to what he excelled at – the machine industry, with a motto "lifetime dedication to a single business". To showcase his determination, he renamed the company Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Entry to three-wheeled trucks manufacturing business to give back to society.
The time was ripe for automobile business. Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 turned public attention to automobile as a means of transportation. Jujiro found a business opportunity in three-wheeled truck manufacturing. Cheaper and more accessible than expensive four-wheel automobile, Jujiro focused on three-wheeled trucks as a way to make a contribution to "improving the quality of people’s lives and the development of my country". While other domestic manufacturers relied on overseas-manufactured engines and other key parts, Jujiro insisted on in-house manufacturing of as many parts as possible and devoted his time and attention to research and development with engineers. His untiring effort paid off when mass-production three-wheeled trucks were completed and introduced to the market. The three-wheeled truck was named "Matsuda Go", after Jujiro’s family name. The name "MAZDA" began to be used around this time.
Philosophy behind the Corporate Mark.
Toyo Kogyo’s corporate mark is a combination of a circle, a symbol of the earth, and the Chinese character "工" that stands for industry and engineering, demonstrating Jujiro’s commitment to "make a contribution to the world by what we do best – machine industry". His philosophy of using the engineering expertise to give back to society and the relentless pursuit of technological excellence is kept alive in Mazda Motor Corporation to this day.
Born in a poor family, leaving home to work at a very young age and tossed by the whims of fate, Jujiro Matsuda said, in retrospect, that "it was a word "faith" that kept me going at what I was most passionate about". Having faith in his own capabilities, having faith in others and in heaven gave him confidence to face failures, prosper with others and ultimately enjoy success.
The founder’s life and spirit continue to thrive in Mazda Motor Corporation today – a car company that celebrates the unwavering spirit, defies convention and dares to challenge.
Mazda, a car manufacturer with an exciting history
Mazda – the name is a permanent fixture on the car market. However, what most people do not know is that, when it was founded, the company had absolutely nothing to do with cars, but started off producing a cork substitute. As the world market was nursing its demand for natural cork, the company had to rethink its direction. When it set machine construction in its sights, it laid the foundations for what is now one of the world’s most famous carmakers.
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