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Mazda

Mazda

Japan Japan (1920 - present)
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History

In 1927, the company’s name was shortened to ‘Toyo Kogyo Co.’ and it remained like so until 1984, although all the vehicles produced carried the Mazda nameplate ever since the company’s inception.

In Japanese, the company’s current name and all its vehicles are spelled and pronounced ‘Matsuda’, just like its founder’s last name. It has been translated into ‘Mazda’ on our alphabet for two reasons: ‘mazda’ stands for ‘great wisdom’ in the Iranian Avestan dialect (used in a religion which Jujiro admired) and it is also the way the word ‘matsuda’ is commonly pronounced in the English language.

Mazda R360 Coupé, 1960

Mazda R360 Coupé, 1960

© photo courtesy of: Mazda

Not until 1931 did the Japanese company build its first automotive vehicle, the Mazda-Go. Until then, the company was only producing machine tools. It also helped Japan’s war efforts by producing military weapons for the Japanese army during the World War II.

In the 1960’s, the company’s management decided on focusing their engineering efforts on a way of standing out among all the other Japanese car brands by creating something completely new. And so the famous Wankel rotary engine was ‘born’ and only Mazda cars had it. Although a few other brands tried to follow Mazda on this one, the Japanese company has managed to become the single car company that currently builds such mechanism.

Sales and exporting success came as a natural consequence for the Japanese carmaker until the oil crisis of the 1970’s bursted in the North American markets and expanded globally, leading to an inevitable serious plunge in the profits.

In 1979 the American car group Ford Motor CompanyFordFordUnited States of America, 1903 > present91 models
2391 photos
11 videos
enters the scene by purchasing a 27 % stake at Mazda. Ford kept on raising its investment percentages throughout the 1980’s, which eventually resulted on a partnership between the two car companies, where each shared their resources and skills. A considerable number of Mazda and Ford cars have since been built on shared platforms.

The Japanese company finally saw its name ultimately changed into “Mazda” in 1984. Despite the financial difficulties that the company went through, Mazda’s engineering management wasn’t ready to give up on innovativeness just yet and in 1995 Mazda introduced the first Miller cycle engine to be used in an automotive vehicle. Until now, Mazda remains the sole car builder that has applied such technology in its vehicles.

However, the Japanese brand didn’t have the means to escape the Asian economic crisis of 1997; therefore, Ford once again raised its shareholding percentage at Mazda up to 33.9%, increasing its level of involvement with Mazda’s operations. The American car giant has made its last purchase within Mazda’s controlling interests in 2002, acquiring a 5% stake. Ford and Mazda companies now share technological and marketing resources, basing their relationship on mutual cooperation.



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Logo

Not until 1959 had Mazda launched its first passenger car, simultaneously creating the first “m” logo to badge such vehicles the same year. The Japanese brand’s cars would be carrying this symbol until 1975.

In 1975, Corporate Identity was introduced at Mazda and the company no longer had an official logo on its cars. Instead, only a stylised display of the letters “mazda” represented the brand until 1991, both on the cars and on the company’s communications.

Finally, in 1991, the Japanese carmaker decided it was time to generate a new symbol that would globally represent the Mazda brand and all its vehicles. This new logo consisted on a diamond-shaped flame, surrounded by a circle that allegedly represented the sun. The resulting shape was meant to represent the brand’s “heartfelt passion”, in addition to symbolizing Mazda on its exports and international markets.

On the following year, 1992, the logo was a little bit re-styled, as the flame’s diamond shape was smoothed into a rounder form. This was due to the diamond’s similarity with French carmaker Renault’s diamond trademark.

The Mazda logo kept its surrounding circle representing the sun, and now included also a ‘circle of light’ within the inner flame.

In the 1990’s the Japanese car company underwent some major changes, especially regarding its administration board, and in 1997, when Mazda welcomed a new company president, a new logo was also ordered to be made. Thus, Mazda’s current stylised “M” logo was introduced between late 1997 and early 1998. This symbol is also nicknamed as the “owl” logo and some people actually see a tulip instead of the stretched-wings figure.

Similarly to the company’s previous symbol, its circle shape is meant to represent creativity, passion and energy. Such qualities are shared with its inner “V” shape, which clearly resembles a pair of stretched wings, representing Mazda’s ‘flight toward the future’.

Through this symbol, the Japanese company wants to show the world that it will continually expand and improve its product lineup, its markets and its loyalty to the customers, as well as its services.

 



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Motorsport

The Japanese car brand has been entering a wide range of racing competitions, whether with its own Mazda cars or by supplying the engines, benefiting from some significant success in the motor sport world. Events in which Mazda has participated include touring car racing, pro-rally, drag racing, World Land Speed racing and SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) racing.

Mazda 787B, 1991

Mazda 787B, 1991

© photo courtesy of: Mazda

Mazda started out in the racing tracks in 1968, entering two Mazda Cosmo Sport 110SCosmo SportMazda Cosmo SportJapan, 1968 > present3 photos
coupes at the Nürburgring’s endurance race 84-hour Marathon de la Route, where one of them made it to the fourth place.

In 1969, four Mazda FamiliaFamiliaMazda FamiliaJapan, 1964 > 20039 series
50 versions
13 photos
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R100 M10A coupes materialized Mazda’s new entry at the 84-hour Nürburgring, where only one made it to the finish line arriving in fifth. In the same year Mazda also raced to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix and made it to 5th and 6th places at the 24 Hours of Spa.

At the 1976 24 Hours of Daytona, driver Ray Walle raced a Mazda RX-5 Cosmo to win the Touring Class under 2.5 litres and finish 18th overall in a group of 72 racers.

When it comes to the IMSA competitions, although the RX-2RX-2Mazda RX-2Japan, 1970 > present1 photo
and RX-3RX-3Mazda RX-3Japan, 1972 > present1 photo
had been quite successful, there has been no other car like the Mazda RX-7RX-7Mazda RX-7Japan, 1978 > 20023 series
13 versions
13 photos
, which is the car that has won the highest number of races in its class, not having been beaten by any other yet. At the IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona, the RX-7 won its class races for 10 years in a row since 1982. This car also won the ‘under 2 litres’ class of the IMSA Grand Touring for every single year from 1980 until 1987.

Mazda entered successfully into the 1990’s with its model 787B787BMazda 787BJapan, 1991 > present2 photos
1 video
winning at the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans and stayed for history as the only brand that has ever won a Le Mans race with a non-piston-engined car. Besides, Mazda’s racing team is the only non-European and non-American team to have ever won this race.

Mazda’s prototypes, such as the 757 and the 767767BMazda 767BJapan, 1989 > present1 photo
, have carried on with the Japanese brand’s racing success in the 1990’s by completing a whole decade of several class victories.

Mazda has also created its own brand-specific racing series: the Formula Mazda Racing, the more professional and popular Star Mazda Series (since 1991) and the also popular and more affordable road race Spec Miata in the United States.


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