The Mazda Motor Corporation is one of the best-established automakers in Japan and it operates in over 130 countries worldwide. It is based in Fuchū, a town in Hiroshima, Japan, and it boasts an inspiring heritage of resilience and innovation. Mazda also has an impressive history in motorsports. To date, its Mazda 787B sports prototype racing car is the only Japanese car that has won the prestigious ‘24 Hours of Le Mans’ endurance race; it did so in 1991. What is even more amazing is the fact that the Mazda 787B racing car won that race with a rotary engine; it remains the only race car in the competition’s history to pull that off.
Mazda began as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd in 1920, when it was founded by Shinpachi Kaizuka. The Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd. initially manufactured artificial corks and other machine tools. Unfortunately, it did not achieve much success with these products and it eventually went bankrupt a few years later. However, Hiroshima Saving Bank and several business leaders in Hiroshima come together to save the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd from bankruptcy. In 1927, the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd was renamed as the Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. Around the same time, Jujiro Matsuda, the president of the company, changed the focus of the company to car manufacturing. This culminated in the production of the Mazda-Go in 1931. The Mazda-Go is a three-wheeled small truck that looked like a motorcycle with a truck bed. Many small businesses of that time found it affordable, reliable, and useful, and so it was well received; so much so that the Toyo Kogyo Co. chose to focus solely on building Mazda-Go trucks.
During the Second World War, the Toyo Kogyo Co. made its contribution to the Japanese military by producing weapons like the Type 99 rifle, but it still continued producing 3-wheeled trucks right up to 1945 when Hiroshima was bombed by the United States. It is said that the atomic bomb killed over 30% of Hiroshima’s population. The Toyo Kogyo Co. lost many employees to the bomb. Remarkably, the company opened its doors just 4 months after the bombing and went right back into building Mazda-Go trucks. It was an inspiring show of resilience.
After the Second World War, the Toyo Kogyo Co. added the 4-wheel Mazda Romper truck to its offerings in 1958, and after that came the K360 3-wheeled truck and the T Series 3-wheeled trucks in 1959, the R360 kei car in 1960, and the P360 “Carol” kei car, the B360 kei pickup truck, and the Proceed B-Series pickup truck in 1961. In 1963, after consulting with NSU Motorenwerke AG of Germany, the Toyo Kogyo Co. developed its first Wankel rotary engine and installed it in its new Mazda Cosmo sports coupe.
With the outstanding success of the Cosmo, the Toyo Kogyo Co. continued developing rotary engines for its cars–a decision that earned the company global recognition and success. Mazda’s rotary engines were known for being small but potent, and as such, they earned Mazda vehicles a reputation for being fun to drive. That reputation eventually inspired the introduction of Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” slogan in the year 2000.
In 1984, the Toyo Kogyo Co. became the Mazda Motor Corporation, and in 1987, Mazda Motor of America set up shop in Irvine, California. Today, Mazda sells close to two million vehicles around the world annually.
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