Updated:
Original:
Year
1920
Month Day
January 30

Japan’s Mazda founded

On this day in 1920, Jujiro Matsuda (1875-1952) forms Toyo Cork Kogyo, a business that makes cork, in Hiroshima, Japan; just over a decade later the company produces its first automobile and eventually changes its name to Mazda. Today, Mazda is known for its affordable, quality-performance vehicles, including the Miata, the world’s best-selling two-seat roadster.

In 1931, the company launched the Mazda-Go, a three-wheeled vehicle that resembled a motorcycle with a cargo-carrier at the back. The company’s car development plans were halted during World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima. In the 1950s, Mazda began making small, four-wheel trucks. The company launched its first passenger car, the R360 Coupe, in 1960 in Japan. Seven years later, Mazda debuted the first rotary engine car, the Cosmo Sport 110S. Mazda entered the American market in 1970, with the R100 coupe, the first mass-produced, rotary-powered car in the U.S. In 1978, the Mazda RX-7, an affordable, “peak-performing” sports car debuted. The following year, the Ford Motor Company took a 25 percent stake in the company.

In 1989, at the Chicago Auto Show, Mazda unveiled the MX-5 Miata, a two-door sports car carrying a starting price tag of $13,800. According to Mazda, the concept for the car was: “affordable to buy and use, lightweight, Jinba Ittai (‘rider and horse as one’) handling, and classic roadster looks.” The 2000 “Guinness Book of World Records” named the Miata the best-selling two-seat convertible in history.

In 1991, in another milestone for the company, a Mazda 787 B won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, becoming the first rotary-powered car as well as the first Japanese-made auto to do so. However, Mazda was impacted by the economic slump in Japan in the 1990s and in 1996, Ford took a controlling stake in the automaker and rescued it from potential bankruptcy. The two companies shared manufacturing facilities in several countries along with vehicle platforms and other resources. In 2008, Ford, which had been hurt by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales, relinquished control of Mazda by selling 20 percent of its controlling stake for around $540 million. (Also that year, General Motors sold its stake in Japan-based Suzuki Motor.)

In 2009, Mazda celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata, whose sales by then had topped nearly 900,000 and which had won almost 180 major automotive awards.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

King Charles I executed for treason

In London, King Charles I is beheaded for treason on January 30, 1649. Charles ascended to the English throne in 1625 following the death of his father, King James I. In the first year of his reign, Charles offended his Protestant subjects by marrying Henrietta Maria, a Catholic ...read more

Shots fired in the House of Representatives

In the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol, President Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, survives the first attempt against the life of a U.S. president. During a funeral service honoring the late Representative Warren R. Davis of South Carolina, a man ...read more

Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland

In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators are shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event that becomes known as “Bloody Sunday.” The protesters, all Northern Catholics, were marching in protest of the British policy of internment of suspected ...read more

Gandhi assassinated

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic. Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, ...read more

Dan Jansen skates world-record 500 meters

On this day in 1994, the American speed skater Dan Jansen sets a new world record of 35.76 at the World Sprint Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Born in 1965 in Wisconsin, Jansen had been the youngest skater to compete at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, where he ...read more

FDR is born

On this day in 1882, future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is born. Roosevelt grew up the only child in an upper middle-class family in Hyde Park, New York. He graduated from Harvard in 1904 and later received a degree from Columbia Law School. In 1905, Roosevelt married ...read more

Adolf Hitler is named chancellor of Germany

On this day in 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg names Adolf Hitler, leader or fÜhrer of the National Socialist German Workers Party (or Nazi Party), as chancellor of Germany. The year 1932 had seen Hitler’s meteoric rise to prominence in Germany, spurred largely by the German ...read more