Mazda can trace its roots to a three-wheeled truck called the Mazda-Go, made in 1931 by Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. Manufacturing was put on hold during World War II and in the post war reconstruction period, Mazda returned to auto manufacturing with the introduction of the R360 coupe.
The 1960s Mazda pursued a joint venture with the German company, NSU, to make the Wankel rotary engine.
Other attempts by Chevrolet and Citroen were abandoned, and NSU bowed out, leaving the Mazda as the only company producing the rotary engine.
The Wankel was used for the limited edition Cosmo Sport in 1967 and continued until recently in the now defunct RX-8. Another establishing move of the 1960s was the introduction of the company's first pickup, the B-Series 1500.
In 1979 the Ford Motor Company purchased a 25 percent stake in Mazda. Having a corporate giant as a financier was very helpful. Design cooperation and the addition of Mazda plants in the U.S. boosted production, quality, accessibility, and sales. The 323 and the 626 models became very popular. Then came the Miata (MX-5), the best-selling roadster in the world.
If introducing the Miata in 1990 wasn't enough, Mazda added to its growing reputation that year by becoming the first Japanese automaker to win at Le Mans. The 787B that won the prestigious race was also a rotary engine model, making it the only rotary engine car to ever take the checkered flag. While such bragging rights improved Mazda's reputation, the 1990s saw a decline in sales of all models except the MX-5/Miata.
Like many automakers, Mazda survived the sales droughts sparked by economic downturns in the early 1970s and late 1990s. The new millennium has seen Mazda regain its stride, as the automaker invested in new developments. Models like the Mazda 2 and CX-9 have broadened the line-up and won over a whole new generation of fans.
Mazdas zoom-zoom ad campaign and speed performance philosophy also found new followers internationally.
Current Model Range for sale in South Africa:
Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda3 Sport, Mazda3 MPS, New Mazda 5, Maxda CX-5 and Mazda BT-50