2008 Mazda Furai Concept

David Yochum
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It's natural for people to hear the wind, but Franz von Holzhausen has shown he can see it.

Von Holzhausen, Mazda North America's Director of Design, lead the creative team behind Mazda's Furai concept unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. The Furai, which means "sound of the wind" in Japanese, is the fifth radical design in Mazda's Nagare series of concept cars. While the four previous concept cars were built to explore Mazda's future design direction, Mazda says the Furai was created to express function - with a particular emphasis on guiding air over and through the vehicle's body.

Based on a Courage C65 racing chassis from the American Le Mans Series, the Furai also helps Mazda celebrate 40 years of rotary engine and international motorsports heritage with its 450-hp, Renesis-based R20B three-rotor rotary engine (tuned to run on ethanol and ethanol-gasoline blends).

"We were looking for a way to bridge the gap between Mazda Motorsports and the production vehicles in our lineup," Holzhausen explained. "The mindsets of road-car and racing car fans are quite different, so the purpose of Furai is to find a meeting point for these disparate interests."

Mazda maintains all Nagare-series concepts "help evolve evocative surface language for future use," but no Nagare design cues have yet been evident on any production Mazda vehicle.

Other features on the Furai include a six-speed paddle shifted transmission, BBS wheels wrapped in Kumho tires, Brembo brakes, butterfly-style doors, headlamp trim pieces that function as guide frames to help cancel aerodynamic lift, and an under-car air diffuser.

Click the link below for high-resolution Furai images.

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