M.azda turned 100 in the spring, but at the height of the corona pandemic, nobody felt like partying. That was and is now being made up for. Friends of the brand came together in a smaller group in the Mazda Museum in Augsburg, and there is now a strictly limited special edition for every model from the Japanese manufacturer as the “100th Anniversary Special Edition”. Theoretically, the offer applies to each of the eight series, including the brand-new, electric MX-30, but no more than 100 units are planned for Germany, pre-sale begins in October, delivery will take place until February 2021, it is said. All 100 series Mazda are painted in two colors in red and white, the leather interior is in burgundy red.
With this color scheme, Mazda is reminiscent of the first car from Hiroshima, the small RX 360, which debuted in 1960. The company’s history began 40 years earlier as a manufacturer of cork, a short time later the company turned to mechanical engineering, and in 1931 the first Mazda vehicle rolled through the streets of Japan: a cargo tricycle. In 1940 the first Mazda car was practically finished when the catastrophe of the war struck Japan and the city of Hiroshima. The Mazda plant was less affected by the atomic bombs, and production of the three-wheelers was resumed in 1945. The first four-wheel vehicle was finally a small truck named Romper in 1958. The first car came shortly afterwards, the R 360 Coupé. At that time there were political efforts to merge Mazda with one of the other Japanese automakers, all of which are located in the Tokyo area, while Hiroshima is a good 800 kilometers from the Japanese capital. But the company was able to resist this, and a license agreement with NSU for the production of the then completely new Wankel engines marked the start of Mazda’s world career. In 1967 the Cosmo Sport became the world’s first production car with a rotary engine. At the same time, they dared to make the leap to Great Britain with the Luce drawn by Bertone and the compact Familia. America followed in 1970, then Germany too in 1972.
The Luce Coupé in particular is a wonderful car that is hardly known in Germany. Here, too, a rotary engine works under the front-opening hood, 126 hp are enough to move the barely a tonne coupé quickly. With four electric window regulators and air conditioning, it offered a level of comfort that was unusual for that time.
The breakthrough in Germany finally came at the end of the seventies with the compact 323, a little later the middle-class model 626 celebrated great success, for a while it was the best-selling imported car in Germany. Incidentally, the historical company name “Toyo Kogyo” was changed to Mazda Motor Corporation in 1984. The term Mazda, which on the one hand is intended to remind of the company’s founder Jujiro Matsuda, but on the other hand also of the ancient Persian god of light, has been used since 1936.
Mazda has had a European research and development center in Oberursel near Frankfurt since 1992, and around the same time began the career of the MX-5 roadster, one of the very few Japanese cars with cult status. Some say it’s the only one. It has long been the best-selling roadster in the world. To date, well over a million copies have been sold, and the fourth generation is now in service. Mazda has built a total of more than 50 million and sold it all over the world.
As an advocate of Wankeltechnik, Mazda has always loved special technical routes and cultivates this reputation. Since 2010, the so-called Kodo design has also underlined the beloved special role, and Mazda cars actually set themselves apart from the design language of other Japanese manufacturers. In addition, Mazda succeeds better than others in using paints and varnishes as design elements. It is currently the “Magma Red Metallic” typical of Mazda that is so popular that every third model is ordered in the same color. This is an extremely high rate for a red.
Technically, Mazda is making a name for itself with the new Skyactive-X technology. This should combine the advantages of diesel and gasoline engines. In addition, Mazda has not written off the diesel itself and is still offering diesel engines in Japan, while others have already withdrawn there. And soon there will be another car from Hiroshima with a rotary engine: the electric MX-30, which will be launched on the market in these weeks, will not be joined by another model until 2022, the one with a small rotary engine and an electric generator drives, should provide more range. The space for the additional technology was provided from the start. Typically Mazda. Also the fact that it takes so long. The Wankel concept is only being revised to make it better.