The early roots of the Mazda Company can be traced to the 1920s. The company’s original founder Jujiro Matsuda gathered a small investment group together who then acquired the company Toyo Cork Kogyo. The Toyo Cork Kogyo Company was a small operation that manufactured machining tools forthe domestic market. In 1927 the company became a limited company and over the intervening years their operations shifted from manufacturing machining tools to producing vehicles.
The first vehicle officially produced by the company was in 1931. It was a truck with three wheels branded as the Mazda-Go. This, in addition to manufacturing equipment for the Japanese military would form the basis of the modern-day master brand we are familiar with.
The company continued producing vehicles under their original name after the Second World War. They didn’t actually officially rebrand as Mazda until 1984. The inspiration for this new name is still debated today. Some experts believe it is a derivation of Ahura Mazda, the Persian god, while others believe it is derived from the name of the original founder. There are also unanswered questions as to why many of the company’s early vehicle designs carried the brand name of Mazda, despite the name change not being implemented until decades later.
Mazda experienced their first major growth in popularity in the 1960s, when they introduced their first conventional car design. The Mazda R360 was a two-door coupe with four seats. It had either a two speed automatic or a four speed manual transmission. It had a maximum of 16 horse power and could produce top speeds of approximately 52 mph. This represented a potential family vehicle with the Mazda reliability and quality.
Another aspect of Mazda cars, Australia buyers may be familiar with is the Wankel rotary engine. This was developed by Mazda as a means of distinguishing itself from the other car manufacturers of Japan. Mazda dedicated significant resources and efforts towards this development, with the first newly developed engine being sold in 1962. Although the engine has been developed further, the current RX8 engine is based on these early designs.
In the 1960s, Mazda experienced some financial difficulty, which resulted in a partnership with the Ford motor company in the 1970s. This relationship lasted for many decades until the American manufacturer struggled with the negative effects of the world recession in 2008. These financial issues forced Ford to sell their financial stake in Mazda, which has allowed the Japanese car manufacturer to regain their independence.