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Mazda is a Japanese car manufacturing company that has become one of the biggest names in the automobile world, especially since it first started exporting cars to Europe in the late sixties. However, you may wonder about the origins of Mazda or you may ask yourself why it has become such a popular choice on our shores. A look back at the history of the brand should answer some of our questions…

From Cork to Car

Back in 1920, Jujiro Matsuda set up a cork factory in Hiroshima, Japan, and the factory produced corks for over a decade before Matsuda made his first foray into automobile manufacturing. A three-wheeled truck was produced in the factory in 1931. The truck became popular and it was exported to both China and India. It was at this time that the name ‘Mazda’ was chosen to represent the automobiles manufactured in the factory. ‘Mazda’ echoes ‘Matsuda’ as well as being the name of an early Asian god of wisdom and harmony.

Little Boy and the Return to Normalcy

The factory went on manufacturing these three-wheeled trucks until the end of the Second World War, when Hiroshima was hit with the infamous atomic bomb, “Little Boy”. The Mazda factory was not hit or damaged by the bomb, but it was used by the local authorities after the war when the city was being rebuilt. Once the post-war efforts to restore the city to normalcy came to an end, the factory was used to manufacture trucks again. A four-wheeled truck was produced in 1958 and, in 1960, Mazda produced its first car, the R360 Coupe, a two-door, lightweight car which went on to become very popular in Japan.

Car Makes and Sales

From this point onwards, Mazda continued manufacturing cars uninterrupted. The Mazda Carol, which went on the market in 1962, was the company’s first four-door car. Shortly thereafter, in 1967, Mazda began exporting cars to Europe. In 1972, 50,000 Mazda vehicles were sold in Europe, a phenomenally high figure considering the brand’s relative newness on the continent, and Mazda has gone on selling vehicles in high volumes both at home in Japan and abroad ever since. In 1985, the company produced its ten millionth car and duly celebrated the landmark sales figure.

These days, Mazda is still going strong and their cars remain a popular choice for car buyers worldwide as a stroll through any car park will quickly reveal. Who would have thought that a simple cork factory on the island of Japan would go on to become one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world?

This article was written by auto industry blogger Marcus Wills who has long been a fan of Mazda Dublin and drives a Mazda himself.