I know the Autocar forum likes a museum blog, so here are a few of the exhibits from the small Mazda collection that is part of the company’s sprawling Hiroshima HQ.
As was mentioned by a recent forum poster, it is possible for the public to gain access to the museum if you happen to find yourself in the city. Although it is pretty small, the tour does include walking over the top of one of Mazda’s production lines. And it’s pretty interesting because Mazda is building MX-5s and 2 superminis on the same line, despite the cars being as different as possible.
The line-up of cars starts with the three-wheel trucks, Mazda making its first vehicle in 1931. The T2000 half truck, half bike hybrid lasted from 1962 until the mid 1970s and had a massive load bay. It struck me that it would be good idea today, especially in crowded mega cities. The turning circle would be pretty handy, if nothing else.
Also looking like a prototype for a future mega city car was the 1960 R360 coupe, Mazda’s first passenger car. Powered by a 16bhp, aircooled, V2 engine it is just 2.98m long and had space for four, typically compact, 1960 passengers.
Mazda also displays three of its four rotary-engined Cosmos models (the third-gen, razor-edged, Cosmo was conspicuous by its absence). Under 1600 of the first, 1967, Cosmo were built. It was powered by a two rotor engine, as was the alarmingly Starsky-and-Hutchesque second-generation Cosmo.
Best of the lot is the 1990 Eunos Cosmo, a huge, high-tech, coupe which was powered by a three-rotor engine with sequential twin turbochargers. As befits a car from Japan’s super-creative era, it also had a touch screen, sat-nav and mobile phone.
At the other end of the scale was the Autozam AZ-1, a tiny mid-engined coupe - sized to meet Japanese Kei car regulations - made by Suzuki for the company. Just 3.3m long, it was powered a turbocharged three-cylinder 657cc motor, good for 63bhp.
And who would fail to recognise the distinctive Le Mans-winning 787B? Seeing the car’s ‘screaming’ rotary motor on a plinth was an unexpected treat.
It may be on the small side, but the Mazda museum shows just how original and innovative this small company has managed to be. It will be interesting to see whether Mazda’s very clever Sky Activ fuel-saving technology will be the spur to the growth it needs to survive independently.