Mazda Keeps Zooming Through the Years

While car brands are disappearing with some alarming regularity of late—Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, soon-to-be Mercury*—it comes with some surprise to us that Mazda is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

While car brands are disappearing with some alarming regularity of late—Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Saturn, soon-to-be Mercury*—it comes with some surprise to us that Mazda is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Not that we had thought that it was going to go out of business, but that the firm has been around for so many years.

What’s interesting to note is that Mazda—which started life as Toyo Cork Kogyo in 1920—wasn’t originally a vehicle manufacturer. Rather, it was a machine tool builder. And perhaps those roots in a rough-and-tumble capital goods sector like machine tools helps account for its longevity. If you can make it there. . . .

The company entered the car business in 1931, and if you think about the prevailing global economic conditions then, they sort of make what we’ve been going through seem no-less trying, but slightly less overwhelming.

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As part of its celebration in Japan Mazda is rolling out with a special-edition vehicle, one that arguably indicates that the company will easily hit its centennial. It is the Mazda Demio 13C-V HID edition. This compact car—which is known elsewhere, and soon in the U.S., as the Mazda2—is, well, a compact car, not some ostentatious luxury liner or hair-straightening performance vehicle.

It has a 1.3-liter DOHC Miller-cycle engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It is said to deliver 23 km/l, or 54.1 mpg.

Yes, thinking like that will get Mazda to 100.

*We understand that while these are “brands” not companies, some started as companies while others, in their heyday, had volumes large enough to be company-like in size.