A-Z Of Marques No 43: Mazda

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The marque: Japanese maker Jujiro Matsuda founded Toyo Cork Kogyo in Hiroshima in 1920.

The marque: Japanese maker Jujiro Matsuda founded Toyo Cork Kogyo in Hiroshima in 1920.

The history: In 1931 the company made a tiny truck called Mazda, after the founder and the Zoroastrian god of light. There was a prototype small saloon in 1940, but after the war the occupying US vetoed the manufacture of cars. Mazda's first car was the 1960 R-360. In 1961 it got a licence from German company NSU to build the Wankel rotary engine, and developed its own more durable version for 1967's Cosmo 110S sports car. Ford bought a chunk of shares in 1979 to bail Mazda out of one of its financial crises, and Toyo Kogyo became Mazda Motor Company in 1984. The company's canniest move was to create the MX-5 sports car; it was a huge success and the first Japanese carmaker to win Le Mans. A decade later, under its British boss, Martin Leach, creating main-stream cars. The ingenious new RX-8 shows the rotary engine has a future, too.

Defining model: Mazda MX-5 - it took the Japanese to reinvent the British sports car.

They say: Zoom-zoom-zoom, zoom-zoom-zoom-zoom, etc.

We say: Oh, zoom-zoom-zoom? Because it just won't go away.

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