In 1920, the Toyo Cork Kogyo company was founded in Hiroshima, Japan by Jujiro Matsuda. As the name suggests, the company initially manufactured cork. But Matsuda soon branched out into cars and in 1931 the name Mazda was born. It refers to the name "Matsuda" as well as the West Asian God of wisdom, intelligence and harmony, Ahura Mazda.
Mazda's first car was the three-wheeled "Go" and was exported to India and China where it was very popular thanks to its manoeuvrability.
This was but one example of Mazda's unconventional thinking and "can-do" attitude, that comes as a result of the "Hiroshima Spirit" of overcoming challenges.
Yet the most dramatic demonstration of Mazda's unique spirit came in 1945. Directly after the atomic bomb was dropped, Mazda played an integral part in the reconstruction of Hiroshima - the Mazda plant was relatively undamaged in the blast and was used as a place from which to organise the reconstruction and relief effort.
A truly revolutionary engine does exactly that: it revolves. This was the thinking behind the rotary engine developed by Felix Wankel, where the combustion spins a flat disc rather than pushing pistons up and down.
Mazda acquired this technology in the late 50s and is the only manufacturer to continue using this alternative engine concept today. Ideal for use in sports cars thanks to their high RPMs and compact dimensions, the rotary engine featured in a number of exciting Mazdas, from the breathtaking Cosmo 110S to the legendary RX-7 and RX-8.
The rotary engine also featured in the 787 racers, famous for winning the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1991.
In the 1980s, nobody was making roadsters anymore. Their heyday in 50s and 60s Britain seemed well and truly over. Until Mazda came into the picture - the thinking was to create a sports roadster for modern times that was reliable and fun to drive. To defy conventional thinking and to make a car that featured back-to-basics driving pleasure at its best.
The original MX-5 tipped the scales at just 955 kilograms proving to be a truly lightweight sports car. It boasted a front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout that featured exceptional driving dynamics. This was the roadster reborn. In fact, the MX-5 was so much fun to drive and such a pleasure to own that it became the best selling roadster of all time.
No Japanese team had ever won Le Mans. Until 1991, that is. That was the year Mazda threw out the rulebook and entered its rotary-engined 787 racers in the world's oldest and most prestigious endurance event. Despite the 787s power deficit against the competition, they had an advantage in reliability and Mazda managed to take the lead and win the race. This was truly a first and a record that stands to this day: the only Japanese team ever to win and the only victory by a car not using a reciprocating engine design. All thanks to thinking differently and defying the conventions.
new design and a new slogan to go with it - Zoom Zoom encapsulates the youthful joy of motion we feel as children. Translated into cars it provides a dynamic driving experience as well as an exciting design. The Mazda6 is the first expression of this thinking and is released to great acclaim in 2002. It's followed by the convention-defying and groundbreaking RX-8 in 2003. A true driver's car, it features versatile "freestyle" doors, and a modern interpretation of the rotary engine, winner of the "International Engine of the Year" and "Best New Engine" awards.
When looking at the cars Mazda has built over the last 90 years, it's easy to see that thinking differently has led to exciting, innovative and fun-to-drive cars, made by a unique group of passionate individuals. From the best-selling MX-5 to the agile CX-7, Mazda has continued to make the most of its innovative engineering traditions and convention-defying spirit - and we're looking forward to the next 90 years.
From motion with soul to radically new engines, the future is exciting for Mazda. Building on nearly a century of innovation, we will continue to find unique solutions to the challenges we face by doing things others wouldn't dream of. Our new SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY reduces fuel consumption while increasing driving pleasure and our new 'KODO - Soul of Motion' design gets the pulse racing like never before.
The future is about changing the way cars are made. Making them more powerful and responsive while reducing their fuel consumption. Making them more comfortable and agile while lowering their weight and making them compact.
Sounds like quite a challenge. We happily accept.