The Toyo Cork Kogyo Co Ltd was founded in Hiroshima in 1920. It diversified from cork products into machine tools, then motorcycles, before deciding that its future lay in three-wheeler utility vehicles. After the devastation caused by the first atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, the company recovered and produced the three-wheelers to help with postwar reconstruction. The first four-wheeler cars came in 1960, but Mazda was a small firm which needed a unique selling proposition in order to compete with the big Japanese companies. This would be the Wankel rotary engine, which had attracted a number of companies due to its advantages of light weight, compactness and efficiency, but only Mazda persisted in attempts to perfect it. The engines powered many Mazda models, notably the RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars, and other aspects of the Wankel story are also told in these pages. The Mazda MX-5 was a world-beating re-imagining of the sports roadster idea, but Mazda produced many other interesting vehicles, including the Bongo compact MPV-camper and much else.
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