2018 will mark 50 years for Mazda in Canada; and the celebration won't be complete without a classic showcase.
Operating in Canada since 1968, Mazda Canada is the Canadian arm of Hiroshima, Japan-based Mazda Motor Corporation. Under the Mazda brand, Canada has seen dozens of models from the company over the years. Some of those models through the decades have become icons of the classic car world today.
Grand tourers like the first generation Mazda Cosmo set the tone for the company’s ability to produce beautiful cars. Equipped with one of the earliest iterations of Mazda’s iconic Wankel rotary motor, the Cosmo proved that the company’s engineering abilities were more than skin deep. Mazda Canada even owns a white 1967 Cosmo (pictured below), which is in need of some mechanical TLC.
Speaking with Motor1 Canada, Sandra Lemaitre of Mazda Canada explained why the company is on the hunt for classics. “Twenty-eighteen will mark our 50th year in Canada. That’s a huge milestone. So we’ve been thinking about how we’re going to celebrate, what are we going to do for customers, owners, media, and employees. To do that we have to celebrate the past 50 years. Which is why we started the search for heritage products.”
Currently the company owns a handful of cars, what the company calls heritage products. In addition to the aforementioned ‘67 Mazda Cosmo, they have a pair of third generation RX-7s (1993 model year), a 2011 RX-8 GT, and a 2015 MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition.
As Lemaitre and Chuck Reimer (also with Mazda Canada) explain, the company hasn’t previously aimed to collect classics. And although they have picked up a few cars along the way, this is the first concerted effort they’ve mounted to begin a collection of cars that help tell the story of Mazda’s history and share the company’s passion for building drivers’ cars.
Reimer also references a rather impressive collection of heritage vehicles that their teammates in the U.S. have gathered up as inspiration for starting a Canadian collection.
Known for their "zoom zoom" tag line, there's no shortage of driving enthusiasts at Mazda Canada. “We have a lot of enthusiastic employees here, they want to work on the race cars, they want to work on the heritage cars, they love being around them, and they’ll [work on them] in their spare time,” says Lemaitre.
She particularly credits Danny Manning, a 45-year veteran at Mazda Canada as being a proper expert on rotary motors. And while the company maintains their current heritage vehicles in-house, they do rely on outside suppliers for certain types of work.
At the moment the company is on the hunt for a first generation Miata and a second gen one that's preferably of the Mazdaspeed variety. Known to enthusiasts as the NA and NB chassis, these were the roadsters that really put Mazda on the map for building drivers' cars. Small, lightweight, front-engine, rear-wheel drive, and a simple rag top roof; these original Miatas are the purest form of harmony between car and driver.
The company’s also on the lookout for a clean Protegé, a car that sold very well in our market, and the forerunner to the current Mazda3 compact sedans and hatchbacks.
After doing their own search, the company is now reaching out to Mazda clubs and enthusiast groups for leads on where to find clean examples of MX-5 Miatas, Protegés, and more.
Do you have a hot tip on an unmolested classic Mazda that’s in great shape? Leave us a note in the comments.
Photos: Dave Pankew, Kanishka Sonnadara