Just like that, Mazda is now 100 years old. They now join a very exclusive club of centenarians that include Audi, BMW, Ford, Maserati and fellow Japanese, Mitsubishi. In that time, Mazda has stuck to their guns to give us the iconic rotary engine and memorable machines like the Cosmo, the RX-7, the MX-5, the AZ-1 and the recent Mazda6. And it all began with the two-door R360.
Little is known that Mazda started life as a cork-producing company in Hiroshima in 1920. Even then, they already have a vision of serving the community through engineering. It was Jujiro Matsuda, the founder of Mazda, that wanted to create a vehicle that is accessible to all; a vehicle that allows all to access everywhere. The R360 Coupe was born out of this vision, becoming Mazda’s first passenger vehicle in 1960.
The R360’s design was ahead of its time and was engineered with unique technologies. Powering the small car from the rear is an air-cooled, V-twin, four-cycle engine paired with an automatic transmission. A manual transmission variant was also offered.
The powertrain is said to have used many light alloy materials, and its body featured a monocoque construction. All of that served to make the car light, and with a light-weight car comes excellent driving performance for an affordable price.
As it was back then, so it is now, the high spec models were treated to the best features. The R360 Coupe was finished in a two-coloured scheme — a white body with a coloured roof and matching interior hue.
The 100th Anniversary Special Edition models pay homage to that car that put Mazda on the road. These unique edition cars will follow the white and red colour scheme on the body. Inside, the same burgundy that was introduced in the Mazda is found on the floor carpet, floor mats and seats. A unique 100 Years logo is designed for the anniversary and is featured on the cars as well. You’ll find the logo in places such as the hubcaps, the key fob and headrests.
Mazda states that the 100th Anniversary Special Edition series isn’t just an expression of gratitude to the millions of people who have crossed paths with the company. This series of vehicles is also a pledge that the Mazda will never lose sight of its ‘roots’ as the company aims for the ‘stars’.
The special edition Mazda vehicles are not available in Malaysia although we would not discount the resourcefulness of Malaysians to land one here.
With the motoring industry changing and the move to an all-electric future seem imminent, it will be interesting to see if Mazda can still make fun-to-drive vehicles in the next 100 years.