This is going to be the first story covering Mazda's history. In this article we’ll bring you up to speed with how Mazda started, and stop right when Mazda started bringing vehicles into the US. So, with out further ado, here is Mazda.
Starting in 1920, a little company called Toyo Cork Kogyo, Ltd. was founded in Hiroshima, Japan. A humble beginning, started by a man named Mr. Jujiro Matsuda. He was born back in August 6 of 1875.
Mr. Matsuda, along with a small group of investors took over a company named Abemaki Tree Cork Company, renaming it Toyo Cork Kogyo, Ltd. to grow out of cork production and into industrial production.
In 1927, Mr. Matsuda reformed the company naming it Toyo Kogyo Kaisha. Come 1929, the company made machine tools, and their first motor vehicle. A test run of 30 tri-cycle trucks were made. By 1931 these same tri-cycle trucks were being exported to China. It was called the “Mazda-Go-a.” The first “Mazda’s”, if you will, were out and about in the world.
In 1934, Toyo Kogyo changed its name to Mazda, although it was unofficial. Some say it was in honor of the founder (the “t” is silent in his name) and others say it is also in reference to the Zoroastrian god, “Ahura-Mazda”. However, according to Ford’s Brand web site on the subject of Mazda’s history, it says that Mr. Matsuda changed the name in 1931, and he specifically wanted the company to associate its image with the god Ahura Mazda. It also says that Mr. Matsuda had trouble deciding between naming the company after his family name or the god. However, he finally chose the god’s name because as the site says, “This was characteristic of the company’s founder, who was humble and idealistic and wished the brand name to be symbolic of a broader positive meaning.”
The name “Mazda” appeared on all the vehicles produced by the company.
In 1934 Mazda also started making small eight wheeled trucks and took on their first trade-marked logo.
In 1935, Mazda began making rock drills and gauge blocks, thus expanding their production ability.
In 1936 Mazda took on a new trademarked image. A “Flying-M”. Not the design you see today, but something a little different. It was designed to show Mazda's link to its home city, Hiroshima. It also was supposed to show Mazda's “attributes”, something we’ve come to know today. Those attributes being Mazda's agility, speed, and capability to soar to new heights. Interestingly, these attributes are most commonly associated with the Zoroastrian god with the same name.
As 1940 approached, Mazda was beginning development of a small sedan. However, due to World War II, development stopped to help Japan’s war effort. Unfortunately, less than half of the factory was destroyed due the atom bomb that was dropped on August 6, 1945.
After rebuilding, car development and manufacturing began a new.
In 1959, Mazda came out with a new emblem that was put on all of their production cars.
In 1960, Mazda introduced the R360 coupe, which was one of the first real two door passenger cars Mazda ever made. As a matter of fact, the sixties brought about a lot of changes for Mazda.
The year of 1961 is when Mazda took a turn in a different direction as far as engine development went. Mazda entered into technical cooperation with NSU and Wankel on rotary engines. This step is what set up Mazda to be the only manufacturer to feature three different engines: conventional gasoline piston, diesel and the rotary.
Mazda also introduced their first compact pick-up, the B-series 1500 in this year.
The Carol 600, one of the first four-door sedans was built in 1962. In 1963 Mazda saw cumulative production reach one million units. The first generation Familia 800 and 100 was made in 1964. A name that has been used on recent production models in Japan, a car known as the Protegé here in North America.
In 1965 Mazda began technical cooperation with Perkins Services N.V. (U.K.) on diesel motors. Mazda also finished construction of the Miyoshi Proving Ground.
Mazda completed construction of their new plant in Hiroshima in 1966.
Mazda made huge advancements in ’67 and ’68, with full-scale exports to the European market; the Cosmos (110S), which was the first rotary vehicle, was introduced along with the Mazda 1000 and 1200. Mazda also reached a technical collaboration agreement with Kia Motors Corp. The Familia Rotary Coupe, or R100 was also released.
In 1970 Mazda began exporting vehicles to the US market. And the Capella RX-2 was introduced.
Part 2 coming next month.
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