Heritage

You've probably never heard of these 11 Mazdas

Mazda has a rich 100 year history that includes a number of less well known models.

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

This year Mazda celebrates its 100-year anniversary, having produced some memorable models along the way (hello, Mazdaspeed3). However, there are a number worth forgetting, and maybe you have. Scroll down to take a walk down Mazda's memory lane.

Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. headquarters

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

Mazda began as a cork products manufacturing company in 1920. A year later, Jujiro Matsuda took charge of Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. (shown above in 1929) and changed the business to make it a machine tool producer. The company wouldn't be known as Mazda until years later.

Mazda Go

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

A decade after the changeover, the company was transformed again, now making three-wheeled trikes like the 1931 Mazda Go (shown above) and a prototype motorcycle.

Motorcycle racing was a popular pastime in Japan in the late 1920s. However, most of the models were imported, or assembled in Japan from imported parts.

Mazda 1930 motorcycle

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

In 1929, Toyo Kogyo, as Mazda was then known, decided to build a domestic Japanese bike. They began development of a prototype in 1929 and from that a 250cc two-stroke prototype motorbike (shown above) was born. It was revealed in October 1930, winning its first race by beating an Ariel, one of the most-popular bike brands in the 1930s.

Following that success, the company produced 30 more motorcycles in 1930. The company priced the motorcycles at 350 to 380 Japanese yen, which is about $31,800- $34,500 in today's U.S. dollars.

But, a changes was, once again, afoot. The company decided to focus on developing the Mazda Go rather than the two-wheeler.

Then, it was time for a car.

Mazda PKW prototype

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

In 1940, Toyo Kogyo built a small two-door prototype car called the PKW prototype (shown above). By that time, however, the tides were turning. The world was waking up to news from the battlefields of World War II every day and it wouldn't be long before the war expanded to the Pacific Theater. The PKW prototype would never make it to production.

The company, like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, and Ford began creating products to help assist the war effort. Japan was on the side of Germany and Italy. Toyo Kogyo began producing series 30 through 35 Type 99 rifles instead of cars.

Post-war, Toyo Kogyo focused on their Type GA and Type GB three-wheeled Mazda Go-inspired three-wheeled trucks.

Mazda Type-CA

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

Along with three-wheelers, Toyo Kogyo produced another prototype, one of the four-wheeled variety. The Type-CA (shown above) was a one-ton four-wheeled truck with a small, open-sided canvas roof and split-screen open deck. It was reminiscent of the Willys Jeep, which helped the Allies win WWII.

The truck pre-dated the company's first production car by 10 years.

A new era at Toyo Kogyo was ushered in with the 1960 Mazda R360 (shown below), the company's first car. The kei car was a two-door, four-seat coupé. Production of the model lasted for six years.

1960 Mazda R360

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

That same year, Toyo Kogyo sold its first bus. The 13-seater was based on the company's D1500 cab-over compact truck and was sold to the Japanese Defense Agency. The bus's interior had seats that folded so the model could be used to transport injured officers on stretchers.

The D1500 was exported to the Middle East where it was equipped with center-opening freestyle rear doors, which allowed it to be used as an ambulance.

1965 Light Bus Type-A Mazda

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

Five years later, the 1965 Light Bus Type-A (shown above) was introduced, based on the concept the company showed at the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show. It featured a curved laminated safety glass windshield and unique styling that set it apart from the traditional bus.

In the 1970s, the automaker continued to produce upscale mini-buses using the Parkway model name. It was in the 1974 Parkway 26 that the company introduced the world's first rotary engine-powered bus.

Mazda CVS Personal Car Concept

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

During that same timeframe, the CVS Personal Car Concept (shown above) debuted, moving the story of the Mazda brand along. CVS stood for computer-controlled vehicle system. The concept had a wheel at each corner box with sliding doors and a spacious interior that was designed for passenger comfort complete with big leather chairs and a telephone.

Mazda designed a rail track to "drive" the model on. The automaker says that, "this 70s self-driving pod looked like futuristic fantasy in 1973, but today strangely familiar to anyone who's ridden on the business parking pods at Heathrow airport terminal five."

Mazda Road Pacer AP

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

The roster of vehicles in the 1970s was rife with oddities. The company wanted to make a a large executive car to be used by Japanese government officials so the Mazda Road Pacer AP (shown above) was launched in 1975. The car wasn't entirely from the company's R&D team.

According to Mazda, " It used Holden HJ bodies, which were shipped to Japan without engines, whereupon Mazda fitted the 135ps 13B rotary engine. Designed to take on the grandly named Toyota Century, Nissan President and Isuzu Statesman De Ville, the Road Pacer AP featured luxuries such as speed related central locking and even an inbuilt dictation machine."

The car was only sold for three years - 1975 to 1977. Just 800 were sold, only in Japan.

Mazda Pathfinder

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

Nissan wasn't the only automaker with a Pathfinder. The Mazda Pathfinder (shown above) was a 4x4 exclusively assembled and sold in Burma. It gained popularity with the military and police who appreciated its rugged off-road abilities. It was powered by a 90ps engine and came with a canvas roof or as a fully enclosed nine-seat model. A few can still be seen on the roads of Myanmar.

Mazda Suitcase Car

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

It wasn't just the 70s that gave the world unique Mazda cars. In 1984 the company officially changed its name to Mazda and in 1991 the Mazda Suitcase Car was born. The Australian-based limousine came about thanks to the 1991 "Fantasy yard" event - an inter-departmental contest to see which group of Mazda employees could come up with the most innovative and creative solution to produce a moving machine.

More go kart than passenger car, the model was the brainchild of seven Mazda engineers from Mazda's manual transmission testing and research group. They purchased the largest Samsonite suitcase they could find and a quarter size pocket motorbike and set to work.

To construct the model, engineers put the rear wheels into slots onto the outside of the case, while the front wheel popped through a removable hatch in the front. The suitcase car took mere minutes to assemble and had a top speed of 19 mph.

Sadly, the original prototype was accidentally destroyed just a few months after the "Fantasy Yard" event, however, one Mazda suitcase car still remains in existence.

London Royal College of Art taxi concept

Photo courtesy of Mazda Motor Corporation

Inn 1993, a collaboration with the London Royal College of Art resulted in a taxi concept (shown above) designed to operate in the future where space would restrict vehicle size. Though it wasn't an official Mazda concept, Mazda assisted by building the prototype, which was a futuristic looking narrow-track pod shaped mini-car.

Intersted in seeing more historical Mazdas? Click here to see 60 years of pretty/pretty ugly Mazda family cars and vans.

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The Polaris Slingshot is one of the most unique vehicles on sale today.

Polaris

The Polaris Slingshot is an interesting beast. It is, by far, one of the most unique vehicles you can buy in the U.S. today, though depending on where you live, it may require a motorcycle license. However, in most states, you can buy and drive one just like a normal car, albeit one that should only be driven while wearing a full-face helmet.

I recently spent a week with a 2021 Polaris Slingshot R and came away from the experience more than a little conflicted. On one hand, it's too much for me on a personal level, as I think it's too wildly styled and costs too much money. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore the charm of the thing. It's loud, too quick for its own good, and a totally crazy driving experience that lands somewhere between being a complete riot and terrifying, depending on how and where it's driven.


2021 Polaris Slingshot There's no ignoring this when it's next to you in traffic.Chris Teague


However, for many, the Slingshot remains a complete mystery, so here are three things you need to know.

It's Loud

No, I don't mean loud in the sense that you can hear it coming – though that's part of the deal, too. I mean loud in the visual sense. Like, 1990s ugly sweater loud. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the one thing that isn't up for debate is that the Slingshot is eye-catching. Add a couple of people wearing full-face helmets and it's nearly impossible to look away from the thing.

It's a Crazy Driving Experience

It's true that this isn't a motorcycle, but the way the Slingshot puts its passengers' rear ends just a couple of inches off the road surface and not all that far away from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine creates one lively experience. Every bump, crack, and sound can be felt and heard, though it's not unpleasant at all and adds to the experience. Couple that with the open-air driving experience and giant tires communicating it all into the steering wheel and the Slingshot is a wild ride.

It's Surprisingly Quick

I tested the Slingshot R, which is one of the flashier and more expensive models Polaris makes. Its in-house four-cylinder engine checks in at 2.0 liters and delivers 203 horsepower, 144 pound-feet of torque, and a whole lot of noise. The advertised 0-60 mph time for the R is 4.9 seconds, which is quicker than some sports sedans, though it feels much more violent and faster than that in person. The optional Autodrive five-speed gearbox is an automated manual, which means that it will shift itself when asked, but is happiest with the driver firing off shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.



The Slingshot is one of the few vehicles that defies almost everything to be what it is. It doesn't make sense for people who want a motorcycle and it's not particularly appealing to someone wanting a convertible or roadster. You have to be in the market for a Slingshot to end up buying a Slingshot, and for those that are, they've never been better than they are now.

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New SUV Review

2021 Ford Bronco review: Return of a legend

Several of the Bronco's body panels are removable.

Ford

Ford says its 2021 Bronco is 'Built Wild' like its wild-horse namesake and, as this iconic model returns to the U.S. market after a 25-year hiatus, it's ready to gallop to glory once again. Released from the Ford stables in 1965, the Bronco was America's first-ever "sport ute" and heralded as the first "4WD sports car" with both off-road capability and on-road competency; it was also dubbed the "G.O.A.T." (goes over any terrain). The all-new model is reincarnated as a modern-day midsize SUV with heritage-inspired styling; rugged engineering; and a collection of smart technologies for the backcountry and four-wheeling, as well as for a smoothish ride around town and on the highway. It marries the tough attributes of Ford's F-Series trucks with a fully-boxed steel-ladder frame and advanced 4WD systems to the performance spirit of the Mustang—and, once again, is nicknamed G.O.A.T! Larger than its stablemate, the Bronco Sport competes with vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, while the Bronco is a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. It goes on sale this summer starting at $29,995

Bronco Trims and Configurations


2021 Ford Bronco Two- and four-door versions of the Bronco are available.Ford


The new Bronco comes in 4WD only, and is available in a two-door version that seats four people or a four-door model with room for five, plus hard-top and soft-top options. There are two engine choices: A turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 that offers up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque (best-in-class) is standard. It pairs with either a 10-speed auto or a 7-speed manual. The optional engine is a 2.7-liter V6 with a twin turbo that produces 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, which is also best-in-class. The V6 is available only with the ten-speed automatic transmission.

The manual transmission has six traditional gears, plus a "crawler gear" that has a best-in-class gear ratio of 94.75:1. There are seven Bronco models that include Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak and a limited First Edition that quickly sold out when order banks opened.

Bronco Features and Styling

The Bronco comes in a staggering number of exclusive color combinations that vary between models. The highly configurable off-roader is designed for both novice and hard-core 4WD experts, with easily removable roof panels, bumper sections and doors that can be stored in the trunk.

Though all-new, the latest Bronco takes its design cues from the proportions, square, boxy looks and flat sides of the original model. Large, open wheel wells are amplified by removeable bolt-on front and rear fenders, while the Bronco's fender flares sport quick-release fasteners to help with customization. Interior appointments vary by model but are designed to appeal to the heart and lifestyle of weekend warriors and 4WD adventurers with durable, with waterproof surfaces, an off-road performance app, and an available 12-inch LCD touchscreen paired with Ford's SYNC4 system touchscreen (an 8-inch is standard), among other communication and audio features. A 12-volt hook-up and USB power connections are at-the-ready to mount cameras, navigation units, phones or other devices.

Bronco First Drive Impressions


2021 Ford Bronco Several color combinations are available with various Bronco trims.Ford


We tried out 5 different models during our test drive that began in the urban environment of Austin, TX and took us to Ford's first Off Roadeo 4WD playground in Marble Falls. Our road-going drive was in a 2-door Outer Banks model with the manual transmission. On the plus side, the manual shifts smoothly, and we had the opportunity to use the crawler gear at a local boat launch. On a steep uphill over loose-surface terrain-we found it suitably impressive.

In general, there was good power, plenty of torque, and competent steering that carved the twisty roads with ease. The Bronco offers surprisingly smooth braking, although we'd like the brakes to be a bit "taller" for more aggressive stopping. Notable is the quietness of the cabin and comfort of the seats. Our only complaints were seatbelts that are not height-adjustable and a couple of ergonomics complaints for our 5'2" driver (although Ford is looking into making changes for both!).

We navigated our way through three off-road courses designed by 4WD experts that included rocky terrain, muddy motoring and dirt two-track with up and downhill climbs. We were impressed with Ford's Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) modes, which allow up to seven driver-selectable settings (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, plus Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-roading). Two 4WD systems include a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case and an optional two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand selection between 2H and 4H. A Dana 44 solid rear axle and Dana independent front differential unit are both available, as electronic locking differentials-provide more grunt. Bead-lock 17-inch wheels compliment aggressive off-road tires.

We also tested the Bronco's Trail Toolbox, which is a suite of off-road technologies that includes Trail Control (cruise control for low-speed trail driving), class-exclusive Trail Turn Assist (tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (aids in acceleration/braking control for precise and confident low-speed rock crawling).

The Bronco's four-wheel-drive attributes include:

  • Up to 11.5-inches of ground clearance
  • 43.2-degree approach, 26.3-degree breakover and 37.0-degree departure angles
  • Best-in-class water fording of up to 33.5 inches (w/ optional 35-inch tires that are available on every series)
  • Steel underbody armor to protect vulnerable parts and an available front bash plate
  • Heavy-duty modular steel front bumper w/ an integrated accessory winch mount
  • Side rock rails
  • Standard front and rear tow hooks
  • Sway bar disconnect
  • A 360-degree camera system with class-exclusive off-road spotter views for additional visibility in technical off-road terrain
  • Trail sites (a styling cue from the first Broncos) on the front fenders that also serve as tie-downs with a 150-lb. capacity for securing longer items, such as canoes.

The Bronco moves with ease at both slow- and high-speeds as a result of its class-leading front and rear suspension travel with a high-performance off-road stability suspension system (HOSS). Up front is an independent front suspension set-up with a solid rear axle with long-travel coil springs; suspension systems vary by model-for instance, the Sasquatch off-road package (available on all models) and standard on Badlands is long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers, with end-stop control valves that allow more articulation, reduce harshness and bring durability.


2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco can be ordered with either a hard or soft top.Ford


After years of buildup and speculation, the Ford Bronco had to be good, and for the most part it accomplishes that goal. The combination of technology and off-road prowess, combined with a mostly reasonable price tag, should be enough for the Ford to put up serious competition against the Jeep Wrangler and other off-road SUVs.

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