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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Just 55 of the SUV will be built.

Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is an aspirational vehicle, and is one that shouts "I've made it" to the world. Its six-figure price tag legitimate military background, and hardcore off-road capabilities make it appealing on many levels, and there's even a go-fast version from AMG. The G63 cranks up the already bonkers G-Class to 11, with a big V8 and aggressive styling. To commemorate AMG's 55th year tuning Mercedes' vehicles, the automaker is releasing a limited "Edition 55" G 63.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The Edition 55 gets unique styling touches inside and out. Mercedes

Though the Edition 55 adds plenty of unique flair to the AMG-massaged G-Wagen, the SUV's beating heart remains untouched. It's a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 making 577 horsepower, and is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. That's in an SUV with a curb weight just shy of 6,000 pounds. Four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission are also standard.

Mercedes says the Edition 55 comes finished in Obsidian Black metallic and rides on 22-inch forged wheels, even though the images it sent to accompany the announcement clearly show a not-black SUV. It also comes with the AMG Night Package, which brings blacked-out trim and unique accents, and the fuel filler cap is embossed with the AMG logo. Inside, the cabin features a black and red color scheme with stainless steel accents throughout. Black velour floor mats stitched with "Edition 55" in red are standard, along with an AMG Performance steering wheel wrapped in microfiber. The seats are covered in black and red Nappa leather upholstery, and Edition 55 badges are seen throughout the space.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The 577-hp super SUV can sprint to 60 mph quicker than many sports cars. Mercedes

When Mercedes says "limited edition" here, it means business. Just 55 of the SUVs will be available in the United States, and will be released later this year. There's no word on ordering or pricing details yet, but it's a safe bet that the ultra-exclusive G-Wagen will sell out quickly.

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This 2020 Ford GT drew over $1 million at the auction.

Mecum

The world may be going through some tough times right now, but you'd never know it looking at auto auction results. One of the largest, Mecum, just reported sales from the auctions it held in Arizona last week, and the results are astonishing. Mecum says it took in $66.3 million in sales, which is a big increase over the previous year's auctions. Attendance was also up, and the event was packed with high-dollar, desirable vehicles.

Mecum Arizona AuctionHow about a 1967 Ferrari for a little over $3 million?Mecum

Mecum says that private collection sales generated $20 million of the $66.3 million, as some brought dozens of vehicles to participate in the auction. The Hooked on Vettes Collection, for example, brought 13 cars and sold every one of them. It even sold a load of neon signs for well over a million dollars.

The top ten vehicles sold at auction drew big dollars. A few include:

  • 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4: $3,025,000
  • 1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Convertible Coupe: $2,365,000
  • 2005 Porsche Carrera GT: $2,200,000
  • 2020 Ford GT: $1,100,000
  • 2017 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster: $698,500

Mecum Arizona AuctionThere was even a Duesenberg, which sold for almost $2.4 million.Mecum

If you've got money to burn and you're sad to have missed out on the Arizona auction, your next shot will be at the end of this month when Mecum hits Houston with 1,100 vehicles. The flagship Mecum auction in Indianapolis takes place in mid-May, and will feature 3,000 cars.

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