It’s pretty common to hear European or American car companies talking about their age milestones.

    Peugeot was founded in 1896 and Ford in 1903, making them 124 and 116 years old respectively. But you only break the century once, and 2020 is that year for Mazda.

    The company was founded in 1920 by Jujiro Matsuda, 18 years before Japanese giant Toyota came to be.

    Interestingly, the name Mazda comes from the Persian prophet Ahura Mazda, and literally translates to “wisdom” (Ahura means ‘lord’) – a little known fact about the brand.

    Throughout its 100 years, Mazda has distinguished itself from other carmakers by being determinedly different.

    After the Second World War, the Japanese government wanted to see diversity in its businesses. Mazda chose to lean on the rotary engine as its primary differentiator and, while work on that seems to have slowed, it set the company apart in its formative years.

    It started producing cars in 1931 and since then has produced around 70 different models.

    We’ve highlighted the ones we love most below in a gallery, let us know which is your favourite in the comments.

    • 1920 Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd. is founded
    • 1921 Jujiro Matsuda becomes president
    • 1927 Company becomes Toyo Kogyo Co., Ltd.
    • 1931 Starts production of Mazda’s first automobile, the 3-wheeled truck, Mazda-go
    • 1960 Announces R360 Coupe, Mazda’s first four-wheel passenger vehicle
    • 1964 Starts selling Mazda 800 sedan (known as Familia in Japan), a small passenger car
    • 1965 Completes Miyoshi Proving Ground
    • 1966 Completes a new plant Ujina Plant No.1 in Hiroshima
    • 1967 Introduces 110S (known as Mazda Cosmo Sport in Japan), with rotary engine vehicle
    • 1971 Mazda’s biggest distributor in the USA, Mazda Motor of America is established
    • 1975 Introduction of CI system begins and corporate symbol is introduced
    • 1978 Starts selling RX-7 (known as Savanna RX-7 in Japan)
    • 1979 Enters into a capital tie-up with Ford Motor Company (with shareholding ratio of 25% )
    • 1980 5th generation Mazda Familia (known as Mazda GLC/323 outside Japan) wins Japan Car of the Year
    • 1982 Production begins at the Hofu Plant (Nishinoura district)
    • 1984 Company is renamed to Mazda Motor Corporation
    • 1987 Production of Mazda MX-6 begins at Mazda Motor Manufacturing (USA) Corporation (MMUC)
    • 1988 Establishes European distributor, Mazda Motor Europe (MME)
    • 1989 Introduces MX-5 (known as Eunos Roadster in Japan)
    • 1991 Mazda 787B wins the Le Mans 24- Hour endurance race, claiming the first victory for a Japanese automobile
    • 1996 Ford’s ratio of Mazda’s shareholding increases from 25% to 33.4%
    • 1998 Starts mass production of small pickup truck at AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT)
    • 2005 Establishes Mazda’s China operations management office, Mazda Motor (Shanghai) Business Management & Consulting Co., Ltd.
    • 2008 3rd generation Mazda2 wins World Car of the Year award
    • 2012 Launches Mazda CX-5, a new crossover SUV which adopts the full range of Skyactiv technologies and Kodo-Soul of Motion design theme
    • 2014 Production of Mazda3 (known as Axela in Japan) begins at MMVO, a plant in Mexico
    • 2016 4th generation Mazda MX-5 (Mazda Roadster in Japan) wins World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year
    • 2017 Toyota and Mazda sign an agreement to enter a business and capital alliance
    • 2019 Starts selling Mazda3
    • 2002 Starts selling Mazda6 (known as Atenza in Japan) that embodies Mazda’s new brand message, Zoom- Zoom
    • 2020 Marks 100th anniversary of company’s foundation
    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

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