The Toyo Cork Kogyo company, later to be named the Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), was founded in 1920 by Shinpachi Kaizuka. One year later, Jujiro Matsudo became president of the company.
MNAO, which was first located in Hiroshima, Japan, originally produced cork, and then manufactured machine tools, but produced its first car in 1931, which was named the Mazdago. A 3-wheel vehicle, it somewhat resembles a tricycle of today, but it was only a small glimpse of the design and engineering genius that Mazda would become. Mazda’s USA operations are currently headquartered in Irvine, CA.
Why is it Called Mazda?
Mazda is named for the ancient God of Western Asia, Ahura Mazda, who stood for wisdom, intelligence, and harmony. Though it’s a bit hard to think of the Zoom-Zoom company as a calm and wise entity, considering the popularity of the rotary engine and Miata and RX-7 siblings.
Mazda has undergone many name changes, most often due to the evolution of the company as it grew and expanded. After Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd, it was renamed the Mazda Motor Corporation in 1984, and then changed once more to the Mazda Motor Manufacturing Corporation. When Ford bought a 25% stake of the company in 1992, it became the AutoAlliance International, but its final form is the Mazda North American Operations, at least here in the United States.
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The Rotary Engine
At one point, Mazda actually licensed the Wankel rotary engine design from Germany. The first Mazda rotary engine appeared in the Cosmo Sport 110S in 1967, and it was only 3 years later that Mazda entered the United States market. The rotary engine hit its stride, and the rest, as they say, is auto enthusiast history.
Source: Quote (super cool)
The tradition of racing, while not apparent in its origins but an integral part of its past, fueled Mazda to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991. Almost 2 decades earlier, Car and Driver actually purchased an RX-2 and repurposed it as a racecar. It didn’t take the world’s drivers long to realize that a compact, light-weight car capable of respectable amounts of power was something to add to your dream garage, and fast!
In 1983, Mazda sold its one millionth passenger car in the United States. Though it may not be the iconic brand that Honda and Toyota are, Mazda has continued to produce capable models with a variety of styling and design features.
The Hairdresser’s Car
While a select number of vehicles, of a variety of makes and models, enjoy certain social associations, the Mazda Miata was branded a “hairdresser’s car” by the popular show Top Gear. Perhaps it is because the Miata is a small car capable of great gas mileage, adept at parking in tiny parallel parking spots, and generally known for quick, responsive movements. Or was it so named because of its affordable nature, the close quarters, or simply because somehow the name fit? Whatever the reason, the Miata has long struggled with an inferiority complex, at least in the social eye.
So, what do you think: is the Mazda Miata a hairdresser’s car? Why or why not? Comment below!
Rebecca Henderson is the published author and professional editor at The Kreativ Space. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber as well. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.