Mazda got it's start in Japan as the Toyo Cork Kogyo company in 1920 by Jujiro Matsuda and actually made machine tools, not vehicles. The name, Mazda, is said to have derived from both the founder's name and the name for a god in early West Asian civilizations known as Ahura Mazda, the symbol for wisdom, intelligence, and harmony. The name was changed to Toyo Kogyo in 1927.
Toyo Kogyo switched to vehicles in 1931 with the introduction of the Mazda-Go. Throughout World War II, they produced weaponry (mostly rifles) for the Japanese military.
Even though ever car made by Toyo Kogyo was named a Mazda, the company wasn't actually called “Mazda” until 1984. The first vehicles in North America were seen in Canada in 1959. In 1970, they came to the United States where they were very successful.
The oil crisis crippled several automotive companies throughout the world and Mazda was saved simply by the intervention of a bank. Their sales had taken a large hit as customers wanted fuel efficient cars and rotary powered models just weren't it. Luckily, the company did have piston engine based vehicles and the Familia and Capella became very important to Mazda's survival.
|1967 Advertisement for the Mazda 110S|
Between 1979 and 2010, Mazda partnered with Ford. They helped design the 1991 Ford Explorer and had their own 2 door edition named the Mazda Navajo. Although the Ford Explorer went on to become the top selling sport utility vehicle in the US for over ten years, the Navajo suffered and failed.
Ford gave up much of it's stake in Mazda in 2008, due to Ford's financial problems at the time. They still own 3% and the two companies are known to remain strategic partners.
|2012 Mazda Mazda3 with Skyactiv - Click to see!|
Sources: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_Mazdago; Style & Tune, http://www.k-f-t.eu/0119849d1f09e28b2/0119849d2c09a1b01/0119849d300fc6d2c.php; Museum Victoria, http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/items/1511713/publicity-brochure-toyo-kogyo-mazda-110s-1967