Mazda is one of the oldest Japanese car companies around today, having been founded in 1910. Originally a maker of tools and machines, the company eventually shifted to the manufacture of vehicles and weapons for the Japanese military in WWII. Though the company is now known as 'Mazda', for most of its life it was known as the Toyo Kogyo Company. The Company adopted the name 'Mazda' in 1984, in recognition of the success of the Mazda car model.
Production of cars began in earnest in 1960 with the R360. This was a fairly standard two-door coupe with a small engine. Though popular in Japan, it did not gain success abroad. To gain more popularity, Mazda concerted their engineering efforts into the design of the Wankel rotary engine. Instead of the usual pistons found in standard engines, the Wankel engine features a triangular rotor geared to the drive shaft. This greatly improves the power to weight ratio of the engine and its novelty proved an entry point for Mazda into foreign markets with the R100 and RX series.
Mazda created a number of innovative models including a pick-up truck with a rotary engine and they built a manufacturing plant in Canada. Throughout the 60s, Mazda sales were strong both at home and abroad.
Like other makers, the energy crisis in the '70s hit Mazda hard as people turned to more fuel-efficient models. Luckily, the company still had standard engine models in the lower-priced ranges and relegated the rotary engine to sport models.
Mazda's innovative development of engine technologies, present in modern-classic models such as the MX5, which remain popular in both the used Mazda and nearly new Mazda markets, stands out as an achievement in the company's manufacturing history. This will continue in the future, as Mazda takes its role in the development of new hydrogen power engines.