20 January 2023 · Mazda Stories
10 Hidden Gems in Hiroshima's Mazda Museum
In Hiroshima, the famous Mazda Museum, renovated in May 2022, is a favourite among visitors to the city. Throughout the ten zones, there’s an abundance of automotive history just waiting to be discovered.
Words Ed Cooper / Images Dan Froude
It’s no secret that Mazda is steeped in rich, Japanese heritage. Founded in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co (renamed as Toyo Kogyo in 1927 and, eventually, Mazda in 1984), the Hiroshima-based automotive corporation has seen years of innovation and continuous success around the world, with countless iconic vehicle designs. What many people don’t know, however, is just how deep Mazda’s roots grow.
The Mazda Museum, located at Mazda’s Hiroshima headquarters and with free entry to the public, is the ideal place to relive this eminent and vibrant past. Across ten different zones, the Mazda Museum captures over 100 years of this unique history, from challenging and innovative technologies to award-winning design and next-gen engineering. In each zone, there’s a perfect encapsulation of Mazda’s challenger spirit, with numerous automotive delights to be found.
The little three-wheeler that rebuilt Hiroshima
In Osaka, Japan, Jujiro Matsuda started Mazda’s journey, and one of the earliest Mazda vehicles is also one of its most remarkable: a three-wheeled “truck”.
Must see: The Type-TCS welcomes visitors to the Mazda Museum and encapsulates the brand’s eclectic history perfectly. Made entirely from domestically manufactured parts, it was 40 per cent more powerful than its predecessor, the Type-DA, and could carry an impressive 400kg of cargo. Later, in 1938, Mazda launched the Type-GA and resumed production just four months after the end of the Second World War. The following year, in 1946, it reached the top of the market with a production volume of 2,430 units. It quickly became nicknamed “Green Panel” in a nod to the green instrument panel that symbolised peace and safety. The Type-GA remained in production until 1949. Today the Mazda Museum exhibits its successor model, the Type-GB, also in the iconic “Green Panel” colour.
The Dawn of Soul Red Crystal
Midway through the 20th century, Mazda turned its attention to consumer vehicles. From light hatchbacks to luxury sedans, a varied lineup of vehicles started to be seen around the globe.
Must see: Mazda’s most historic and recognisable vehicles include the Cosmo Sport, Savanna, and Cosmo AP (pictured below). Notably, the Cosmo AP was one of the first vehicles to launch in red, a rarity for vehicles in the mid 20th century as high-end vehicles were typically made with black, white or silver colourways as standard. With this unconventional approach came Mazda’s unique connection to the colour, which is still synonymous with the brand today. The Cosmo Sport, too, is somewhat of a rarity as only 480 of the approximately 1,200 vehicles built are still on the road today.
The Group C Sports Prototype that won Le Mans
Mazda showcased its challenger spirit across a range of global racing series, including Le Mans and IMSA. Start your engines…
Must see: One of the most eye-catching installations is the Mazda 787B (pictured), which flew to victory at the brutal 24 Hours of Le Mans. The museum shows the 787B in a pit garage set-up, where visitors can also discover memorabilia from endurance racing’s most famous events. In 1991, Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot drove team Mazdaspeed to a historic victory.
The one and only V12 engine
Mazda’s challenger spirit continues to be showcased in Zones 5-6, which highlight the 1980s approach that was all about going on the offensive in a competitive market.
Must see: Mazda’s first and only V12 engine, which can be seen in Zone 5, had displacement of 4,000cc and was developed during the late 1980s through to 1992. By connecting two V6 engines, the development team wanted to build an engine for the best car in the world. The V12 engine was never brought to market, but Mazda’s challenger spirit lived on in its unique engine designs, including a three-rotor rotary engine and Miller cycle V6 engine.
The SUV that gave the world "Kodo: Soul of Motion"
Welcome to the new school: The Mazda CX-5, Mazda6, and MX-5 represent Mazda’s new era, with game-changing Skyactiv Technology and unique Kodo design.
Must see: The Mazda CX-5 SUV, released in 2012, was the first vehicle to present Mazda’s “Kodo: Soul of Motion” design theme. It’s said that the sleek, sporty silhouette was inspired by a cheetah ready to pounce on its prey; and the forward-thinking design was matched only by the Skyactiv technology that maximises driving performance and efficiency. It’s a crossover SUV with plenty of charm.
The crumpled car, destroyed on purpose
With brilliant vehicles come uncompromising safety standards. A series of striking installations can be seen here, as well as the opportunity to witness Mazda vehicles being made in real time.
Must see: A Mazda CX-30 damaged during routine safety testing (pictured) makes for one of the most recognisable moments in the Mazda Museum. While the damage to the front of the vehicle is extensive, the cockpit and interior remain well protected. In Zone 9, too, you can walk above the Mazda production line at the Ujina factory, which produces 1,000 cars every single day. Each vehicle takes around 15 hours of precise work to be completed.
Looking to the next century
Across Zone 10, be sure to explore Mazda’s bold, future-proof strategy and unique Kodo designs, including a bicycle, a sofa and a spectacular Goshintai sculpture.
Must see: The sweeping, elegant exteriors and exhilarating nature of the Mazda Vision Coupe and RX-VISION (pictured) offer the perfect end note to the Mazda Museum in Zone 10. Each of these cars was brought to life using the combined skills of an expert clay modeller, transforming ideas into life-size models that would then later become concept vehicles. Neighbouring the two concept cars is the Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo, which is a life-size model of the car available in the Gran Turismo racing game. The vehicle fuses Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy with a nod to the Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B.