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Take a Short Trip Through Mazda’s History With These Archival Images

The Zoom-Zoom brand is celebrating 100 years in business.

Conner GoldenWriterGetty ImagesPhotographer

Dang, Mazda! You don't look a day over 50. It's hard to believe 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the enthusiastic Japanese automaker. After poring over photos of the new 100th Anniversary special edition packages, we decided to take a pictorial stroll through Mazda's history. We didn't play favorites, nor did we make any attempt to be comprehensive. Instead, we collected archive images that give a wide sampling of one of our favorite Japanese automakers through the last century.

1989 Mazda MX-5 Miata Attracts Onlookers

It's difficult to overstate just how much attention the new MX-5 Miata attracted back when it launched. We hadn't seen anything quite like it since the stock of new MGs and Triumphs dried up in the 1980s, and this little thing actually worked.

Ford Mechanic (Engineer?) Measures Twice on a Mazda B-Series Truck

This image was taken in 1990, not long before the Ford Ranger was badge-engineered for Mazda. Details on what's happening here are scarce, but we'd like to think it's a very brief look behind the scenes at what went into that process.

Mazda-Go Assembly Line, 1937

Long before the 1960 R360—Mazda's first passenger car—launched in Japan, the Mazda name got its vehicular start with the popular Mazda-Go "truck" trike-bike motorized rickshaw thing. These motorbike trucks lasted until 1945, and Mazda eventually launched a closed-cockpit three-wheel truck lineup in 1959.

1990 Mazda RX-7 GTO Spits Fire

These Mazda rotaries weren't exactly known for miserly fuel consumption, so it's no surprise to see a massive gout of flame spitting from the RX-7 GTO's side pipes.

Mazda RX-7 With Period-Correct Modifications, 1987

Speaking of RX-7s, check out the excellent, tasteful mods done to this RX-7. We're digging the turbofan-esque wheels and subtle graphics pack.

Mazda RX-3 Is Part of the Neighborhood, 1972

These earlier RXs were much more European in design than the later RX-7s. Look at how adorable this RX-3 is parked parallel to the garage.

The Man with the Mazda Vans

Oh, how we miss ultra-boxy 1980s Japanese vans. Pictured here is Australian politician Barrie Unsworth standing in front of a fleet of Mazda vans wearing personalized plates for the upcoming "1985 Mazda World Cup."

Getting in the Spirit Before the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans

Behind those promotional models dressed in "traditional Japanese Geisha costume" you can catch a glimpse of the pair of screamin' Mazda 787s. They didn't win the race (until the following year, that is), but they sure sounded good while blasting down the Mulsanne straight.

Want more historical Mazda goodness? The look back continues in the gallery below.