There aren't a lot of automakers who can claim that they're a century-year-old like Mazda. It wasn't an easy century for them, but the brand from Hiroshima has weathered storms and rolled out some of the most iconic cars the world has seen.
So how did Mazda get started? And how did a company that made corks become one of the biggest automakers in the world? It's time for a little history lesson.
Mazda as we know it today started as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company an was established on January 30, 1920. However, the cork-making business soon became unprofitable, so the company's founder, Jujiro Matsuda, shifted to the tool manufacturing business. Then in 1931, Mazda made the Mazda-Go, a half-motorcycle, half-truck vehicle.
However, World War 2 halted any more plans for vehicle production. Despite Mazda's home being the target of the atomic bomb, their plant in Hiroshima was relatively unscathed, even if it was just about five kilometers from the blast. Mazda resumed the production of the Mazda-Go when the war was over.
Sadly, the company's founder would not see any more new cars bear his name, as he passed away in 1952 at the age of 76. But even after his passing Toyo Kogyo would continue building three-wheel trucks in the late '50s. But in 1960, Mazda would introduce their first four-wheel vehicle, the R360 Coupe. Throughout the decade they would expand their car line-up with the addition of the Luce, the iconic Cosmo Sport, and the Familia, the car which would later evolve into the Mazda3. They would also introduce rotary engines to those core models.
As Mazda introduced more cars, the '70s went smoothly for Mazda, right up until the oil crisis hit. The rotary engines in some of their cars weren't the most fuel-efficient and sales tanked. The company was rescued by Ford in the mid-'70s and would be with the American giant until 2015. Despite the struggles, Mazda was persistent with rotary power and even introduced a sports car many would know and love as the RX-7.
There was more growth and expansion in the '80s, with the 323 and 626 presenting advanced technologies for the era. Then, in 1989, Mazda changed the sports car scene when they launched the MX-5. While it was a revival of the classic small roadster, what Mazda had done is make it reliable to make it a fun corner carver you can drive daily.
It was smooth sailing for Mazda in the '90s up until the late '00s. Ford began selling off their stake in Mazda little by little, but the Japanese automaker trundled on with models such as the Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda6, and their first mid-sized crossover, the CX-7. By 2015, Mazda had become fully independent from the Ford Motor Company. But instead of letting their stock dwindle, Mazda went all out in research and development.
These days, we know Mazda as the brand that injects the fun of driving in just about every car they make. From the subcompact Mazda2 to the CX-5 crossover, you feel a little bit of zing behind the wheel.
So how is Mazda celebrating a century of motoring? Mazda Philippines will be rolling out two of the rarest models that will land in the country, namely the Mazda3 and MX-5 100th Anniversary Edition. Just how rare will these cars be? There will only be 15 of these Mazda3s, and 24 MX-5s to be sold locally. That's out of the 700 units around the world so it's a huge deal that these special models even made it here.
The 100th Anniversary Special Edition models sport a Snowflake White Pearl finish with unique interior embellishments. These cars have Mazda 100th Anniversary logos with the original corporate logo layout of Toyo Cork Kogyo and today’s modern Mazda wing brand symbol. These are embossed on the seat headrests, the wheel center caps, and the key fobs in each of the cars. Mazda 100th Anniversary badges are then placed on the fenders and floor mats.
So how much for these rare cars? The Mazda3 100th Anniversary Special Edition starts at Php 1,570,000, and you can only get it as a hatchback. As for the MX-5 100th Anniversary Special Edition, that one retails for Php 2,335,000 (soft-top, automatic). The RF (Retractable Fastback) is also available with this unique package with the manual version priced at Php 2,390,000 and the automatic for Php 2,480,000.