Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
A chronological day-by-day history of Mazda.
Production began at Ford’s Dagenham Plant in east London, then Europe’s largest factory. The first vehicle to roll off the production line was a Model AA truck. Planning of the Dagenham plant began in the early 1920s, a time when lorries were small and road networks little developed. In the UK, bulk supplies were still delivered by water transport, so the Dagenham plant, like the Ford Trafford Park plant which it would replace, needed good water access. Dagenham on the southern estuarial edge of Essex offered the prospect of a deepwater port which would allow for bulk deliveries of coal and steel on a far larger scale than the barges of the Manchester Ship Canal could manage at the old plant. In 1924, Ford Motor Company purchased land in the Dagenham marshes for £167,700. On 17 May 1929, Edsel Ford marked the start of construction on the site by cutting the first turf in the marshes. Construction on the site continued for 28 months and required around 22,000 concrete piles to be driven down through the clay of the marshland site to adequately support a factory that from the start was planned to incorporate its own steel foundry and coal-fired power station. At the time when the plant was planned, western governments were increasingly responding to economic depression with protectionist policies. This was the context in which Henry Ford’s policy of setting up relatively autonomous car-manufacturing businesses in principal overseas markets can be seen. The drive for self-reliance implicit in including within the Dagenham plant its own steel foundry and power station nevertheless went beyond anything attempted by other European mass-production automakers such as Morris in England, Opel in Germany, or Citroën in France. Inspiration for Ford’s Dagenham plant came more directly from Ford’s own Rouge River plant on the edge of Detroit. The first vehicle out of the Dagenham plant was a Ford AA light truck, produced in October 1931. However, the British economy was in a depressed condition at this time, and the surviving local market for light trucks was dominated by Morris Commercial products. Production at Ford’s Dagenham plant got off to a slow start, but picked up as the local economy recovered, so that by 1937, the plant produced 37,000 vehicles, an annual total that would not be exceeded until 1953. Most of the output of the Dagenham plant during the 1930s consisted of various editions of the Ford 8, a successful model first built at Dagenham in 1932, which probably inspired the even more successful Morris 8, first produced at Cowley in 1935 by the UK market leader of the late 1930s. Wartime production included large numbers of vans and trucks along with Bren gun carriers. The plant produced numerous 'special purpose' engines. Agricultural vehicles were also an important element: at one point, the Fordson represented 95% of UK tractor production. After the Second World War, Ford’s UK operation set the pace for the UK auto industry, and Dagenham products included models such as the Zephyr, Cortina, and (until production of Ford’s smaller saloons transferred to Halewood), the Anglia. The 1950s was a decade of expansion: a £75 million plant redevelopment completed in 1959 increased floor space by 50% and doubled production capacity. This went hand-in-hand with the concentration in-house of car body assembly, following the acquisition in 1953 of the company's principal UK body supplier, Briggs Motor Bodies. In 1960s, Ford finally began to merge its previously competing British and German subsidiaries, culminating in the creation of Ford of Europe in 1967. The new entity began to systematically merge the once-separate product lineups from Dagenham and Cologne. The 1960s was an era that had several European automakers, including Ford, investing in new assembly plants on greenfield sites. The Dagenham plant was, by 1970, becoming one of the Europe’s older mass-production car plants. In 1970, production of the Ford Escort began at the new Saarlouis in West Germany. By this time, the UK auto industry was gaining a reputation for poor industrial relations, with a particularly lengthy strike leading to a three-month shut-down at the Dagenham plant at the start of the summer of 1971. This savaged availability of the Ford Cortina Mk III during its crucial first year. By the time the Ford Cortina Mk IV was introduced to UK customers, the cars inherited several Ford UK engines but were, in other respects, virtually identical to those branded in left-hand drive European markets as Ford Taunus models. Saarlouis was joined in 1976 by another new European plant in Valencia, Spain, to produce the then new Ford Fiesta concurrently with Dagenham. The same European strategy was followed by Ford's US rival General Motors, which in the 1970s, also merged the operations of its previously independent Opel and Vauxhall subsidiaries, with similar results. Ford Dagenham in 1973, displaying what was at the time the largest neon sign in Europe This decision to concurrently manufacture the same models in other European plants reduced the company’s vulnerability to further industrial disruption at Dagenham, and gave Ford a crucial advantage over strike-torn domestic rival British Leyland, which was often unable to fulfill customer orders during the all too frequent times of industrial unrest in the 1970s, and eventually ceded its long-standing UK market leadership to Ford, something from which it would never recover, but the duplication of production also made cost comparisons between the company’s various European plants increasingly stark. During the closing decade of the 20th century, UK government policy and the country’s status as a major oil producer left the UK with a currency which by several conventional criteria was significantly overvalued against the German Mark and the currencies that tracked it. This tended to exacerbate any cost penalties arising from relative inefficiencies in the Dagenham plant’s operation, and new model investment decisions during the 1990s tended to favour mainland Europe. For instance, the Sierra for the European market had its right-hand drive models made at Dagenham and the left-hand drive models in Belgium; in 1990, though, all Sierra production was concentrated in Belgium, leaving the Fiesta as the only model being built at Dagenham. The Sierra's successor, the Mondeo (launched in early 1993), was also built in Belgium. However, Dagenham did become a two-model plant again in January 1996 with the introduction of the Mazda 121 - essentially a badge-engineered Fiesta - as part as a venture with Mazda until its demise four years later. By 2000, the only Ford produced at Dagenham was the Fiesta, itself competing in an increasingly crowded market sector. The lead plant for Fiesta production was in Spain, however. Faced with a cyclical downturn in car demand across Europe, Ford took the decision not to tool the Dagenham plant for the replacement Fiesta due for launch in 2002, which was the year in which the company produced its last Dagenham-built Ford Fiesta. Mindful of its image as a good corporate British citizen, the company stressed that the plant engine-building capacity would be further developed to "help the UK to become the producer of one in every four Ford engines the world over". The site has also been the location of the Dagenham wind turbines since 2004. Ford announced in October 2012 that the stamping plant activities at Dagenham would cease in summer 2013. Some additional jobs would be created in the engine-assembly departments at Dagenham, but the GMB Union stated that 1,000 jobs would be lost at Dagenham, saying, "This is devastating news for the workforce in Southampton and Dagenham. It's also devastating news for UK manufacturing," according to the BBC.
Ford DagenhamShow Article
Jujiro Matsuda (74), Japanese industrialist and businessman who founded automaker Mazda Motor Corporation, died.
Jujiro MatsudaShow Article
The Japanese government ratified a contract between the Toyo Kogyo Company Ltd, and the Wankel GmbH of Germany, giving the manufacturer of the Mazda the rights to the Wankel rotary engine.Show Article
The 11th Tokyo Motor Show opened. The Toyota Corona, the third generation RT 40, made its debut to compete with the Bluebird. Toyota equipped the Crown Eight with a V8 engine to contend with foreign cars, while Isuzu Bellet 1300 and 1500 Coupe & GT, and the 6 cylinder Skyline GT long-nosed "sheep skinned wolf" attracted attention. Other models that made their debut included Hino Contessa 1300, Bluebird 2-door saloon, Mazda Familia 800, Publica Sports, and Datsun Coupe (Silvia). In the foreign car division, displays included the Triumph series (UK), Jeep Wagoneer (US) developed from the Jeep, a masterpiece produced by World War II, and the 4 wheel-drive Huflinger (Austria), creating a slightly international mood.
Toyota Crown EightShow Article
The Mazda 110S Cosmos, the world’s first two-rotor rotary engine production car, was officially launched with NSU rotors, beating even NSU’s own Ro 80 to market by 3.5 months. Mazda paid NSU hefty licence fees for the use of the Wankel design, and all Mazda rotor housings had ‘NSU licence’ cast into them. The Series I/L10A Cosmo was powered by a 0810 two-rotor engine with 982 cc of displacement and produced about 110 hp (thus the 110 name). It used a Hitachi 4-barrel carburetor and an odd ignition design - two spark plugs per chamber with dual distributors. A 4-speed manual transmission and 14 inch (335 mm) wheels were standard. In Japan, the installation of a rotary engine gave Japanese buyers a financial advantage when it came time to pay the annual road tax in that they bought a car that was more powerful than a traditional inline engine, but without having the penalty for having an engine in the higher above-one-litre tax bracket. The front independent suspension was A-arm/coil spring design with an anti-roll bar. The rear used a live axle with a de Dion tube, trailing arms, and semi-elliptic leaf springs. Power-unassisted 10 inch (254 mm) disk brakes were found in front with 7.9 inches (201 mm) drum brakes in the rear. Performance in the quarter-mile (400 m) was 16.4 s, with a 115 mph (185 km/h) top speed. The price was lower than the Toyota 2000GT at 1.48 million yen (US$4,100).
Mazda 110SShow Article
The Mazda R100 was introduced, the world's first volume-production car powered by a Wankel rotary engine. Felix Wankel patented his rotary device in 1933 but it was more than 30 years later that a rotary-engined production car hit the market. More than 2000 rotary engine designs have been patented but the Wankel has so far been the only one to be successfully mass-produced. The two-rotor rotary engine had its low speed performance improved over that of the experimental models without any sacrifice to its high-speed performance and the engine could be driven continuously at 180 km/h and could cover the standing quarter mile in 17.8 seconds. Apart from its quick performance provided by the rotary engine, the R100 had other virtues. It was superbly built and finished, in a style that Australian buyers had come to expect from Japanese cars. The interior had a very upmarket feel. Black was the fashion colour of the late 1960s, when it came to interiors and the Mazda designers had conformed happily to that trend. By any standards, the dashboard was impressive and even heading into the 1990s, the style and arrangement of the gauges was difficult to fault. The matching speedo and tacho were suitably dominant in the manner of a traditional English sports car. The three-spoked woodrim wheel was another nice touch and a standard radio with an electric aerial wasn’t to be taken for granted in 1969. There was a very effective heater/demister with a three-speed fan, headrests on the front seats and a plush carpet of top quality. Th ride in this small car – it was only 3830 mm long and a very narrow 1480 mm width – was quite reasonable although there was a tendency to bounciness over choppy surfaces and the body developed quite a roll. The stumpy body was susceptible to buffeting in a crosswind and the slack at the straight-ahead position made the car unpleasant to drive fast under such conditions. Braking was better with discs up front and drums on the rear. The lack of a servo unit meant that pedal pressures were high and the brakes had a tendency to lock. Fuel consumption had been claimed by some to be a strong point of the Wankel engine. In fact the reverse was true. Road testers summed the car up at the time as ‘excellent performance, superb engine with heavy fuel consumption; handling and roadholding fair; finish and trim good’.
Mazda R100Show Article
The Mazda Cosmo 110S, featuring a Wankel rotary engine, made its racing debut at the Nurburgring in Germany
Mazda made its competition debut when two Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S coupes entered the 84 hour Marathon de la Route ultraendurance race at Nürburgring, one finishing in fourth place and the other breaking an axle after 81 hoursShow Article
Racer Leon Dernier (57) was killed when his Mazda R100 crashed during a race in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.Show Article
The 19th Tokyo Motor Show opened to the public. Use of professional models had been banned a few years before, but now the beauty was brought back, and crowds gathered. The lunar vehicles co-exhibited by GM and Isuzu, and Mitsubishi s replica of a 1917 Model A also attracted much attention. Conspicuous in the Passenger Car Hall were the Skyline GT racing car, the Mitsubishi Colt F-2 engine, the Isuzu R6 Spider, the Mazda Savanna racer, the Suzuki Vickr, and the Toyota Town Spider. Since this show was mainly about safety and environment, the number of exhibits was decreased from 755 at the previous show to 559. The number of visitors also decreased to 1,261,400.Show Article
Toyota displayed TTC-C and TTC-V systems and also the Gas Turbine Century at the opening of the 21st Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan exhibited the Steam Engine Cedric and showed its NAPS system using a multi-media show. Honda displayed its ESV with CVCC engine. Mitsubishi stressed high performance and low pollution by combining its Astro Engine and emission cleaning system MCA. Mazda displayed the rotary engine REAP and reciprocating engine CEAP system. Isuzu exhibited the Gemini Coupe which cleared the 1975 regulations by introducing GM technology for air injection EGRplus a catalytic converter. Fuji Heavy Industries announced the Leone Sports equipped with the SEEC-T system that cleared the 1976 regulation and attracted wide attention. The only new models displayed were the Toyota Corolla Sprinter Liftback, Silvia, and Cosmo s revival model. The rest of the exhibits had radical technological innovations under their hoods, but looked unchanged and mostly modest.
The world’s longest ever rally, the Singapore Airlines London to Sydney rally, started in Covent Garden, London. The race was won at Sydney Opera House on 28 September by the British team of Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Michael Broad in a Mercedes 280E. They were followed home by team-mate Tony Fowkes in a similar car. Paddy Hopkirk, this time driving a Citroën CX, took the final podium spot. The 1977 London-Sydney Marathon was the first-ever rally to have a competing truck, several years ahead of the Paris Dakar. It had two former Grand Prix drivers; several front-line international rally drivers; Fiat entered a team of prototype diesels - the first time for a diesel works-rallycar on an international event. There were works-factory teams at one end, and privateers at the other in everything from a fibreglass kit-car, the Magenta; the first time a kit-car had ever been accepted into an international rally; a Mini Clubman and even a Mini Moke. In between, there were Range Rovers, Jeeps, Peugeots, Mercedes of various descriptions, Ford Escorts, a Mazda rotary-engined car, Datsuns, Volvos, Saabs, even a mobile-home camper van. Crews came from around the world to take part… professionals, experts, adventurers, more than one crew were on their first-ever rally, including a couple who literally drove straight from a dealer’s showroom direct to the start-ramp. It was also the first big-time rally for a Subaru 4WD.There were several instances of cheating that would have made Dick Dastardly proud, including a crew that left London and then flew their car to India, cheekily trying to check in at the time-control table set up outside the hotel in Madras without even bothering to remove the car still strapped to the back of a truck, having come straight from the airport. The route took in mountains, rivers wild enough for a Datsun to float off downstream, and several deserts – the Australia section was a marathon drive in its own right. When the ship arrived late into Freemantle, rather than cancel sections to get the rally back on schedule, it was decided to make up the lost time by simply running it non-stop – for seven days and nights.
The Mazda RX7, featuring a 1,146 cc twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine and a front-midship rear-wheel drive layout, made its US debut.
Mazda RX7Show Article
Car & Driver Editor Don Sherman set a Class E record of 183.904 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, driving a Mazda RX7 which was the standard-bearer for the rotary engine in the U.S. market. The RX7's unique rotary engine has two rounded "rotors" which spin to turn the engine's flywheel instead of the standard pistons in most internal combustion engines. Although the rotary engine was not a new concept, the Mazda RX7 was one of the first to conquer the reliability issues faced by earlier rotary engines. Light and fun to drive, with 105hp from its 1.1 liter rotary engine, the RX7 was extremely popular.
Mazda RX7Show Article
The 1,000,000th Mazda Wankel rotary engine was produced.Show Article
The Batavia Transmission factory owned by Ford Motor Company in Batavia, Ohio opened. It closed in 2008 as part of Ford's "Way Forward" plan. The plant produced front-wheel drive transmissions for Ford, Mercury, and Mazda vehicles. The facility is now used as University of Cincinnati Clermont College's UC East Campus.Show Article
Ford and Mazda established Autorama, a joint venture distribution channel for Ford products in Japan.Show Article
After 20 years of production, in which more than 4.3 million cars had been produced, the very last British-built Cortina was completed at Ford’s Dagenham plant. The Cortina was produced in five generations (Mark I through to Mark V, although officially the last one was only the Cortina 80 facelift of the Mk IV) from 1962 until 1982. From 1970 onward, it was almost identical to the German-market Ford Taunus (being built on the same platform) which was originally a different car model. This was part of a Ford attempt to unify its European operations. By 1976, when the revised Taunus was launched, the Cortina was identical. The new Taunus/Cortina used the doors and some panels from the 1970 Taunus. It was replaced in 1982 by the Ford Sierra. In Asia and Australasia, it was replaced by the Mazda 626-based Ford Telstar, though Ford New Zealand did import British-made CKD kits of the Ford Sierra estate for local assembly from 1984.The name was inspired by the name of the Italian ski resort Cortina d'Ampezzo, site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. As a publicity stunt, several Cortinas were driven down the bobsled run at the resort which was called Cortina Auto-Bobbing.
The Chicago Motor Show was opened by Mayor Harold Washington and Illinois Secretary of State Jim Edgar. More than 700 vehicles were exhibited including the new sporty Pontiac Fiero, the Honda CRX, the Nissan 300 ZX and the Ford Mustang SVO. Chevrolet offered visitors a glimpse of the redesigned Chevrolet Cavalier Type 10, displayed with a special Chicago appearance package. Concept vehicles shown included the four-wheel steering Mazda MX-02, Nissan NX-21 (dubbed family car of the Nineties), Ford Ghia Barchetta convertible, mid-engined Toyota SV-3 prototype, Oldsmobile diesel Ciera ES, and Chevrolet's fiberglass Citation IV.
The Toyo Kogyo Company Ltd, changed its name to the Mazda Motor Corporation.Show Article
The South African Motor Corporation, more commonly known as Samcor, was a South African car manufacturer created in 1985 through the merger of Ford Motor Company of Canada's South African subsidiary and Sigma (previously known as Amcar - American Motors Corporation), which produced Mazdas for the local market. As a result of the merger, Ford and Mazda began to share models in South Africa, as they already did in other markets. For example, in 1986, the European-sourced Ford Escort was replaced by the Laser and Meteor based on the Mazda 323. Similarly, in 1993, the Ford Sierra was replaced by the Telstar, based on 626. However, this badge engineering proved unpopular with some buyers in South Africa. In 1988, Ford divested from South Africa and sold its 42 per cent stake in Samcor, although it would continue to sell Ford-branded automobile components for assembly and sale in the country. In addition to Ford and Mazda products, Samcor also assembled Mitsubishi commercial vehicles, with the Mitsubishi L300 minibus being badged as the Ford Husky. In 1994, Ford (USA) bought a 45 per cent stake in Samcor, and in 1998, bought the remaining share, renaming the company Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
Henry Ford II, longtime chairman of Ford Motor Company, died in Detroit at age 70. When his father Edsel, president of Ford, died of cancer in May 1943 (during World War II), Henry Ford II was serving in the Navy and unable to take over the presidency of the family-owned business. The elderly and ailing Henry Ford, company founder, re-assumed the presidency. By this point in his life, the elder Ford was mentally inconsistent, suspicious, and no longer fit for the job; most of the directors did not want to see him as president. But for the previous 20 years, although he had long been without any official executive title, he had always had de facto control over the company; the board and the management had never seriously defied him, and this moment was not different. The directors elected him, and he served until the end of the war. During this period the company began to decline, losing over $10 million a month. The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been considering a government takeover of the company in order to ensure continued war production, but the idea never progressed to execution. Henry Ford II left the Navy in July 1943 and joined the company's management a few weeks later. After two years, he assumed presidency of the business on September 21, 1945. Since it had been assumed that Edsel Ford would continue in his capacity as president of the company for much longer than turned out to be the case, Henry Ford II had received little grooming for the position, and he took over the company during a chaotic period; its European factories had suffered a great deal of damage during the war, and domestic sales were also in decline. Henry Ford II immediately adopted an aggressive management style. One of his first acts as company president was to place John Bugas in charge of taking control of the company from its entrenched management and firing Harry Bennett, head of the Ford Service Department, whom his grandfather initially hired to stifle attempts at unionization. Next, acknowledging his inexperience, he hired several seasoned executives to support him. He hired former General Motors executives Ernest Breech and Lewis Crusoe away from the Bendix Corporation. Breech was to serve in the coming years as HF2's business mentor, and the Breech–Crusoe team would form the core of Ford's business expertise, offering much-needed experience. Additionally, Henry Ford II hired ten young up-and-comers, known as the "Whiz Kids". These ten, gleaned from an Army Air Forces statistical team, Henry Ford II envisioned as giving the company the ability to innovate and stay current. Two of them, Arjay Miller and Robert McNamara, went on to serve as presidents of Ford themselves. A third member, J. Edward Lundy, served in key financial roles for several decades and helped to establish Ford Finance's reputation as one of the best Finance organizations in the world. As a team, the "whiz kids" are probably best remembered as the design team for the 1949 Ford, which they took from concept to production in nineteen months, and which re-established Ford as a formidable automotive company. It was reported that 100,000 orders for this car were taken the day it was introduced to the market. Henry Ford II was president of Ford Motor Company from 1945 to 1960. In 1956, under his leadership, the company became a publicly traded corporation and dedicated its new world headquarters building. When he resigned the presidency, he became CEO of the company. During his term as CEO of Ford, he resided in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. On July 13, 1960, he was additionally elected Chairman; he resigned as CEO on October 1, 1979, and as Chairman in 1980. His nephew, William Clay Ford, Jr. would later assume these positions after 20 years of non-Ford family management of the company. During the interim, the family interests were represented on the board by Henry's younger brother William Clay Ford, Sr., as well as Henry's son Edsel Ford II and his nephew William Clay Ford, Jr. During the early 1960s Henry Ford II engaged in lengthy negotiations with Enzo Ferrari to buy Ferrari, with a view to expanding Ford's presence in motorsport in general and at the Le Mans 24 Hours in particular. However negotiations collapsed due to disputes over control over Ferrari's racing division. The collapse of the deal led him to inaugurate the Ford GT40 project, intended to end Ferrari's dominance at Le Mans (the Italian marque won the race six consecutive times from 1960 to 1965). After two difficult years in 1964 and 1965, in 1966 GT40s locked out the podium at both the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 Hours before taking the first of four consecutive wins at Le Mans. In 1973 and 1974, as it became clear that the American car market would begin to favor smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, Ford's then-President Lee Iacocca was highly interested in buying powertrains from Honda Motor Company as a way to minimize the cost of developing a small Ford car for the North American market, such as a modified version of Ford of Europe's Ford Fiesta. The plan was rejected by Henry Ford II, who stated: "No car with my name on the hood is going to have a Jap engine inside." Although, strictly speaking, it was too late for that, as the Ford Motor Company had been selling a Mazda compact pickup truck as the Ford Courier since late 1971, Henry Ford II did not like the idea of flagship North American passenger car models moving in that direction. Ford Motor Company did go on to adapt to the era in which Japanese, German, and American participation in a globalized automobile industry became tightly integrated. For example, Ford's relationship with Mazda was well developed even before the end of HF2's period of influence. However, in Iacocca's view, it lagged several years behind GM and Chrysler, due to Henry Ford II's unappealable influence, before others led it forward despite his resistance. HF2's management style caused the company's fortunes to fluctuate in more ways than one. For example, he allowed the offering of public stock in 1956, which raised $650 million for the company, but the "experimental car" program instituted during his tenure, the Edsel, cost the company almost half that. Likewise, HF2 hired the creative Lee Iacocca, who was fundamental to the success of the Ford Mustang, in 1964, but fired Iacocca due to personal disputes in 1978 (about the break in their relationship, Iacocca quoted Ford as saying, "Sometimes you just don't like somebody"). He formally retired from all positions at Ford Motor Company on October 1, 1982, upon reaching the company's mandatory retirement age of 65, but remained the ultimate source of authority at Ford until his death in 1987.
Henry Ford IIShow Article
The 80th Chicago Auto Show opened. On display were the Ford Probe, Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, Mercedes Benz 300 SE, Jeep Cherokee sport and the tenth anniversary of the Mazda RX-7. Concept vehicles included the Dodge Intrepid, Ford DM-1, Lincoln Machete, Plymouth Slingshot and Pontiac Banshee.
The Ford Probe introduced. The sports coupe was intended to fill the market niche formerly occupied by the Capri in Europe, and was also considered a possible replacement for the Ford Mustang in the North American market. During that time, Ford's marketing team had deemed that a front-wheel drive platform (borrowed Mazda GD and GE platforms) would have lower costs for production, and also because the platform had been gaining popularity with consumers. Mustang fans objected to the front-wheel drive configuration, Japanese engineering, and lack of a V8, so Ford began work on a new design for the Mustang instead. In March 1997 Ford announced the discontinuation of the Probe.
Ford ProbeShow Article
Felix Wankel, the only twentieth-century engineer to have designed an internal-combustion engine which went into production, passed away at the age of 86 in Lindau, Germany, where he did much of his research and where Wankel Research and Development is still located. During World War II, Wankel developed seals and rotary valves for German air force aircraft and navy torpedoes, for BMW and Daimler-Benz. After the war, in 1945, he was imprisoned by France for some months, his laboratory was closed by French occupation troops, his work was confiscated, and he was prohibited from doing more work. However, by 1951, he got funding from the Goetze AG company to furnish the new Technical Development Center in his private house in Lindau on Lake Constance. He began development of the engine at NSU Motorenwerke AG, leading to the first running prototype on 1 February 1957.Unlike modern Wankel engines, this version had both the rotor and housing rotating. It developed 21 horsepower. His engine design was first licensed by Curtiss-Wright in New Jersey, United States. On 19 January 1960 the rotary engine was presented for the first time to specialists and the press in a meeting of the German Engineers' Union at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In the same year, with the KKM 250, the first practical rotary engine was presented in a converted NSU Prinz. At this time the "Wankel engine" became synonymous with the rotary engine, whereas previously it was called the "Motor nach System NSU/Wankel". At the 1963 IAA, the NSU company presented the NSU Wankel-Spider, the first consumer vehicle, which went into production in 1964. Great attention was received by the NSU in August 1967 for the very modern NSU Ro 80, which had a 115-horsepower engine with two rotors. It was the first German car selected as "Car of the Year" in 1968. In Japan, the manufacturer Mazda solved the engine's chatter marks problem. The engine has been successfully used by Mazda in several generations of their RX-series of coupés and sedans, including the Mazda Cosmo, R100, the RX-7 and more recently the RX-8. Mercedes-Benz completed it's C111 experimental model in 1969 with 3-rotor Wankel engine. In 1970 next model which had a 4-rotor Wankel engine could reach top speed 290 km/h but reached never serial production. Wankel became a success in business by securing license agreements around the world. By 1958 Wankel and partners had founded the "Wankel GmbH" company, providing Wankel with a share of the profits for marketing the engine. Among the licensees were Daimler-Benz since 1961, General Motors since 1970, Toyota since 1971. Royalties for the Wankel GmbH for licensure were 40%, later 36%. In 1971 Wankel sold his share of the license royalties for 50 million Deutschmarks to the English conglomerate Lonrho. The following year he got his Technical Development Center back from the Fraunhofer Society. From 1986 the Felix Wankel Institute cooperated with Daimler Benz AG. Daimler Benz provided the operating costs in return for the research rights. He sold the Institute to Daimler Benz for 100 million Marks.
Felix WankelShow Article
The Mazda MX-5 went on sale in the UK, priced at £14,249. Powered by a 1.6-litre inline four cylinder engine putting out 114 bhp at 6500 rpm, enabling a 0-60 mph dash in 9.1sec and topping out at 114 mph, the MX-5 was never about searing pace, as Autocar wrote,“If you’re expecting a Mazda MX-5 to set you alight, you’re in for a disappointment. But as with everything the MX-5 does, it’s not the result but the participation that puts a smile on your face. This is the two-seat roadster that car enthusiasts have been screaming for since the demise of the old Lotus Elan. It also has the two ingredients essential in any sports car powerplant: instant throttle response and an invigorating exhaust note.” The model debuted in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show and was conceived as a small roadster – with light weight and minimal mechanical complexity limited only by legal and safety requirements, while being technologically modern and reliable. The MX-5 is conceptually the evolution and spiritual successor of the British sports cars of the 1950s & '60s. The second generation MX-5 (NB) was launched in 1998 (for the 1999 model year), the third generation (NC) model was launched in 2005 (for the 2006 model year), and a fourth generation (ND) was released in 2015 (for the 2016 model year). It continues to be the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history and by April 2016, over one million MX-5s had been built and sold around the world. Production of the MX-5 had fallen by 2013 to below 14,000 units, due to the world finance crisis in 2008, and the pre-announcement in 2012 of the coming ND model. Since the launch of the third generation, Mazda has consolidated worldwide marketing using the MX-5 name with the exception of the United States where it is marketed as the MX-5 Miata. The name Miata derives from Old High German for reward.
Mazda MX5 - 1990 brochureShow Article
Bertrand Gachot, Johnny Herbert, and Volker Wiedler won the 24-Hours of Le Mans driving a Mazda. It was the first time a marque outside of Western Europe had won the prestigious title. The 1990s has seen a resurgence of interest in Le Mans, as companies struggle to make better handling more durable sports cars for the world market. The 1991 Mazda was also the first car to win Le Mans with a Wankel rotary engine. The engine consisted of four rotors with three sequential spark plugs per rotor. The Mazda drove 3,059 miles (4,923 km) at an average speed of 183 mph (295km/h)
1991 Le Mans winning Mazda 787BShow Article
The Mazda Motor Corporation of Japan announced it planned to enter the luxury car market in 1994 with the Amati. Several other high-end brands from Japan had already been introduced: Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura.
Amati logoShow Article
Ford acquired 50 percent of Mazda Motor Manufacturing and renamed the company AutoAlliance International.Show Article
The 250,000th Mazda Miata was produced.Show Article
Ford and Mazda agreed to truck manufacturing joint venture in Thailand.Show Article
Ford and Mazda establish AutoAlliance (Thailand) to build pickup trucks for Asia.Show Article
Employees at AutoAlliance International Inc., the joint manufacturing venture owned by Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Corp., produced the 2 millionth vehicle built, a Mazda 626, since the plant opened in 1987.Show Article
Joining the ranks of the oldest living man (112-years old), tallest living woman (7 ft. 7 in.) and coldest place on Earth (Vostok, Antarctica), the Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster was named the best-selling sports car by Guinness World Records(TM). More than 600,000 of the popular sports car have been produced since it was introduced in 1989.Show Article
The Frankfurt Motor Show, opened it’s doors, with the simultaneous launch of the 5th generation of VW Golf and Opel Astra. Ford unveiled the first production models based on next year’s new Focus platform – the Mazda 3 and new Volvo S40 sedan. The 2003 Show was also a significant event for BMW, with the debut of the new 5-Series saloon and 6-Series coupe, while the X5 was updated for 2004 and joined by the smaller, all-new X3. Mercedes showed the production version of the SLR McLaren; Jaguar the X-Type Estate and Maserati returned to the luxury saloon fold with the premiere of the new Quattroporte. Leading the concept car debuts from Europe were the Citroen C-Airlounge, Renault Be-Bop, Peugeot 407 Elixir, SEAT Altea, and Saab 9-3 Sporthatch, together with surprises from Lancia with the Fulvia Coupe concept and Skoda with the Roomster. Japanese makers were also strongly featured with concepts such as the Toyota CS&S, Nissan Dunehawk, Mazda Kusabi, Mitsubishi ‘i’, and Suzuki S2.
VW Golf (5th generation)Show Article
The Paris Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) opened its doors to the press and featured a wealth of new concept and production cars. There were a number of major releases from Ford, BMW and Mercedes and, naturally, the French makers Peugeot, Citroën and Renault featured strongly as well. World debuts included the Alfa 147, Aston Martin DBR9, Audi A4, BMW 1 Series, BMW M5, Citroën C4, Ferrari F430, Ford Focus, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sportage, Mazda 5, Mercedes A-Class, Mitsubishi Colt CZ3, Opel Astra GTC, Peugeot 1007, Porsche Boxster, Renault Mégane Trophy, Škoda Octavia Estate, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Prius GT.
BMW 1-SeriesShow Article
Mazda’s four-door, four-seat rotary-powered sports coupe the Mazda RX8 reached a significant production milestone: number 100,000 rolled off the Ujina No.1 final assembly line near Mazda’s corporate headquarters. The milestone was achieved 18 months after production began in April 2003.
Mazda RX8Show Article
A total of 249 Mazda MX-5 cars took part in a parade organised by Mazda (New Zealand) at Alexandra Park, Auckland, New Zealand.Show Article
The 654-foot Singapore-flagged Cougar Ace, a cargo ship carrying 4,813 cars from Japan to Canada, began tilting to its port side late at night hundreds of miles off Alaska's Aleutian Islands. 23 crew members were rescued the next day. The ship was owned by Tokyo-based Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and listed on its side for several weeks before being righted. 4,703 of the cars were new Mazda's valued at about $100 million. After a year of planning Mazda scheduled all the cars for complete reduction to scrap in Portland, Oregon, Canada.
Cougar AceShow Article
Yutaka Katayama, the father of the Datsun Z, died at age 105 after a career that covered parts of eight decades. “Mr. K,” as he was known to his legions of fans across the globe, wasn’t a designer or engineer, but it was his understanding of both the American market and the synergy between driver and sports car that laid the groundwork for the Z’s success, and ultimately helped to establish Nissan as a significant player in the United States market. In 1965, Nissan began working on a sports car to counter Toyota’s 2000GT. Starting with a rendering penned by Albrecht Goertz, Nissan’s design team explored several different directions before settling on a final shape. Stressing that the relationship between car and driver was very much like the relationship between horse and rider (a concept that Mazda would later embrace with its Miata), Mr. K, then back in Japan, envisioned a sports car that was lightweight, with reasonable power and superior handling, yet affordable even by those with modest incomes. When the first cars were delivered to the United States, however, they carried “Fairlady” badging. Realizing that such a model name would hardly attract U.S. buyers, it was Mr. K that swapped the badging for a 240Z label, using the car’s internal designation.
Datsun Fairlady 240ZShow Article