Flashback Friday: 6 Hilariously Classic Mazda Models

We can’t wait for our new Mazda MX-5. Every time more rumors surface about the next Mazdaspeed, all of us at CorkSport can hardly contain our excitement. Still: We appreciate nostalgia, and for all the performance updates that Mazda has made over the years, it’s still fun to reminisce on their past accomplishments.

For a small player in the industry, Mazda has released some incredible cars over the years. Some have evolved into the models we mod out today; some disappeared like dinosaurs. They’re gone, but not quite forgotten, at least not by true Mazda heads. These are six of our favorite Mazda models from the past.

1. The Mazda Mazdago

First vehicle manufactured by Mazda
Mazda Philippines

Is it a motorcycle? Or an ATV? Or a truck? Technically, the Mazdago was the first “autorickshaw,” but we remember it more as the first vehicle manufactured by Mazda.

2. The Mazda Savanna RX-3

city-data
city-data

Long live the rotary, right? We can’t wait for the new one, whenever that will be, but we love any shot from the rotary family. Given the Savanna’s huge success in the 70s, it won’t ever be forgotten, but it’s sadly rare to see one of these morsels on the road today.

3. The Mazda Titan

goo-net
goo-net

Not to be confused with the Nissan truck, this commercial behemoth actually lives up to its name. The boxy Mazda Titan is still around, and still not the prettiest truck on the road.

4. The Mazda Bongo

cartype
cartype

Technically, these sometimes trucks, sometimes vans remain in production—at least for a little while longer. It’s the photos of the first models, though, like the first gen pictured above, that catch our eye. The Mazda Bongo has never been a sleek van, but that’s OK when their main job is to be functional.

5. The Mazda REPU

Flickr
Flickr

This was not a popular truck. Known for guzzling gas, its appearance right before the 1970s gas crisis might have sealed its fate. The Mazda REPU was a lot faster than its competition, though, and we kind of love that it had a rotary engine.

6. The Mazda MX-3

cargurus
cargurus

The Mazda MX-3 died out the same year CorkSport was born, and we remember it for the performance modifications. The MX-3 was basically made for Mazda performance enhancement. If you see one on the road today, chances are someone’s been under the hood, installing a lot of upgrades.

Did we miss any? (Rhetorical question, people. Mazda has made a lot of cars.)

 

Cheers,

CorkSport

Life in the FSAE Lane: A Year-Long Journey

Have you heard about FSAE? You Haven’t? Well, grab a beer and take a seat. We have quite the journey ahead of us.

The Basics

Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) is an international collegiate design competition held among colleges and their associated student groups. The project is to design and build an open-wheel race car (within the specified rules) to compete in both dynamic and static events.

The dynamic events include:

  • A 300ft drag race
  • Left/right skid pad
  • Single pass autocross track
  • A closed loop autocross track run for 20 minutes, which is also scored on fuel economy.

The static events include:

  • An engineering design event
  • A cost analysis event
  • A marketing presentation.

The goal of the project is to simulate a new startup company that designs and builds track day cars that are affordable for the average guy. All right. That’s the background. Now, I hope you enjoy my personal FSAE journey.

FSAE Sample Race Car Design

First Encounters with FSAE

For me, it all started in September of 2011. I had just transferred to Portland State University (PSU) to begin my upper division classes in Mechanical Engineering. The classes were difficult, and I didn’t know anyone at Portland State. One day, I came across the PSU Viking Motorsport Formula SAE student group. I was instantly hooked, getting whatever information I could from the couple of members I met. Before I knew it I was in the student group’s lab, tinkering with the car and asking way too many questions. I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time, and I’ll admit: I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t know if I would have stuck it out any other way.

I attended a second meeting with enthusiasm, which landed me managing the cooling system for the next race car. A mixture of stress and excitement overwhelmed me.

Building an FSAE Race Car

You only have a year with FSAE, which means we had to work quickly. Within a few weeks the 2012 race car was beginning to take shape.

FSAE Race Car Frame

Remember: This wasn’t built from a kit. From concept to 3D computer model to the immense amount of fabrication, we did it all. Not to mention the 12-21 credits of engineering classes, and on top of it all some of us were working an hourly job—myself included. Sounds crazy, huh? You have no idea unless you’ve done it.

With a goal to have an operational race car by mid-February there were at least eight members spending 60-80 hours per week building the race car. There were many late nights—actually, “early mornings” are a better way to put it—that ended like this:

Working Late on an FSAE Car

But with every tough time there was a moment like this to remind us to have fun:

FSAE Fun Engineering

The Fruit of Our Labor

By March, only a couple weeks behind schedule, we had an operational race car, and we were feeling pretty awesome (to have an operational race car by then was impressive in this competition) and ready to start testing and tuning. With so much time spent in the machine shop and lab, we were all very excited to get some fresh air at the test track. Who wouldn’t be excited with a view like this?

FSAE Race Test Track

Our testing and tuning consisted of every aspect of vehicle dynamics. Tire pressure, camber, caster, anti-squat, anti-lift, toe, spring rate, and damping rate adjustment—not to mention the live engine tuning via wireless connection. Testing and tuning days were an absolute blast, but they were packed full of problems and solutions, because that’s the reality of a race car. On top of our private testing and tuning, we would also participate in local SCCA autocross events, because it was more testing and great driver training. These events were usually a bit more relaxed if there weren’t any issues.

The FSAE Competition

Let’s fast forward a few months to the actual competition held in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The most important step was getting through tech inspection. Tech inspection, or commonly called “scrutineering”, involved four stations, each testing a different aspect of the car. First, the car is thoroughly inspected by officials to verify all the rules had been followed. Second, accelerate for a set distant then apply the brakes at full force. All four tires must lock up and the race car cannot rotate out of control. Third, rev the engine to a set RPM for 3 seconds without overshooting the 110dB threshold. Fourth, the epic tilt table. The car and driver are tilted to over 60 degrees to check for leaks and to simulate a 2.5G cornering force. Sound nerve-wracking? It can be, but this is also pretty fun:

FSAE Testing

To our surprise, we were the third team to get through tech inspection. That may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but you need to understand that some teams never even get through tech inspection at all. The tests are exhaustive, especially for college students who just built a racing vehicle from scratch. With the tech sticker on our race car we were off to prepare for the next few days of static and dynamic events.

The next morning came, and the first event on our schedule was the design presentation. This was my biggest worry of the whole competition. Four very well educated and known motorsports engineers drill you for an entire hour with questions about your design and your decisions to get to that design. It was like standing in front of the firing squad.

Formal FSAE Design Presentation

All-in-all we did pretty well for being more of a hands-on focused team. The important thing was the most difficult event was behind us. Next were the other two static events, but I didn’t present in these, so we will just move forward to the dynamic events.

Like any good race car it was having issues that we couldn’t for the life of us diagnose. After limping the race car through the drag race and skid pad events, we narrowed the issues down to the fuel pressure regulator and a potential tuning issue. After completely re-designing the fuel system from an in-tank setup to an external setup we had the car running much better. There was still a mysterious tuning issue, but with only minutes to spare we pushed (all race cars had to be pushed to the events according to the rules) the race car to the autocross event in an attempt at least score some points.

Pushing an FSAE Race Car

The race car was difficult to drive as the throttle response was poor to say the least, but I managed to finish 25th of 90. I later found out that this was the highest score for the autocross event in PSU’s history.

Check out the Autocross event here. (Skip to 3:15.)

Last but not least was the endurance event. This event is worth 40% of the total competition points and is by far the most demanding dynamic event. On average, only 60% of the teams that start the event finish. The most common issues are engine overheating or failure to restart after the driver change, but sometimes you have an unusual issue much like the one we had to overcome. I was the first driver for the endurance event, so I was forced to improvise. The bracket that stops the accelerator pedal broke on my first lap, which resulted in the accelerator pedal being stuck wide open. I couldn’t get my foot around the pedal to pull it loose, and quitting wasn’t an option. With no other choice, I drove the next ten laps throttling through the corners with the clutch, leaving the throttle wide open. As you can see in the video, things got a little out of control for a bit, but I managed to finish my ten laps without blowing up the car.

The FSAE Endurance Challenge

We changed drivers and proceeded to complete the endurance event with a broken chain tensioner at lap 18. Through all those issues we finished 14th in the endurance event.

Check out the Endurance event here.

With all the points tallied up, we finished 16th place of 90 teams at FSAE Lincoln. This was and still is the highest placing in PSU’s history. None of this would have been possible without the support of my fellow teammates and our extremely supportive adviser, Evan Waymire. Of course we learned a ton about engineering, but also, and maybe most importantly, that life is not about the issues you face, but about the ways you solve them.

Barett Strecker-01

Mazda Axela Sport and the 6 Wagon Turbodiesel (Next Mazdaspeed?)

2014 Axela Sport Concept (New Mazdaspeed?)

Mazda recently released some concepts with Mazdaspeed exteriors. Could these be the next Mazdaspeed 3’s? The new Axela Sport with Mazdaspeed Exterior certainly has a sporty look, but there is no official word on if this is just a design concept, or if it’s confirmation of the next Mazdaspeed 3.

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The hatchback will feature a strengthened chassis, some Brembo stopping power and a set of black alloy wheels. The end result is a stunning example of another great design from Mazda, a company that truly understands blending high performance and sporty style.

Whether this is the new Mazdaspeed or not, we look forward to more ideas and designs from Mazda, such as the Mazda 6 Wagon concept below!

Mazda 6 Wagon Mazda Design Concept

Also joining the 6 sedan lineup is a stylish wagon variation. Featuring subtle aero changes, new wheels and a leather wrapped dash. It will house a Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter turbo-diesel engine power-plant. Rumor has it that we should be seeing this engine in the USA, so we have our fingers crossed. Turbo + Diesel + Wagon = the best of all worlds, at least we think so!

wagondiesel

Was that a Mazda?

Ok Mazda, we as enthusiasts, need to be brutally honest and let you know that you may have missed a key detail when you edited your latest commercial. Take a look and pay careful attention to the “Mazda” rally car shown in the 21st second of the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aAwnN8n2_-E

Mazda hasn’t offered a high-flying rally car since the 1994 Familia (323) GTR, like the one pictured below in competition.

Sure there are people running cars in the 2wd classes, like the protégé that Eric Burmeister recently brought out of retirement, and several 2wd Mazda 3’s and Mazdaspeed 3’s, but nothing like the mystery machine shown in the commercial.

Someone from the 323GTX yahoo group took the frame out of the video with the car in question.

Turns out that the car in question was a WRX and not a Mazda at all!

In Mazdas defense, they switched marketing companies a few years ago and it was probably an advertising executive that wasn’t familiar with Mazdas history that made the decision to use the video. And to be fair, it was only a one second clip, but that ad would have been much better with a 323 GTR instead of a clip of a WRX.

There are some great clips that could have been sourced from mazda Japan of the 323 GTR flying through the air from the WRC competition days instead of the substitute chosen by the advertising company with the front end taped up.

Derrick-

Mission Possible II

Last week we gave you a short history lesson on Mazdaspeed Japan from CorkSport’s perspective. This week, we turn our focus to another great Japanese company with a similar ability to develop excellent quality Mazda parts; AutoExe.

Sign at AutoExe HQ

AE Headquarters

AutoExe (AE) offers a full line of aftermarket parts for most Mazdas. You can purchase their products via catalog, website, dealers, and at select Mazda dealerships in Japan. Some dealerships in Japan sell aftermarket products right out of their showrooms. The photo below is of one such AE display from our last visit to Japan.

AutoExe Display at a Japanese Dealership

AutoExe Display at a Japanese Mazda Dealership

We aggressively sought to distribute their products as soon as we discovered them and finally reached an agreement in early 2003. In order to strengthen our partnership we’ve visited them twice in Japan and they have visited us once here. We are the oldest standing dealer of AutoExe parts in North America.

They’ve got a great catalog of products. We’ve got many of them listed in our web store. Unfortunately, the exchange rate has been so poor for so many years that AE parts have been too expensive for many people.

As we did in the Mazdaspeed blog post last week, we’ll take a look at an AutoExe product for some perspective. Let’s consider their Sports Muffler for 2010+ MazdaSpeed 3.

AutoExe Axle-Back for the MazdaSpeed 3

Their axle-back exhaust system retails for $1140 USD at the current exchange rate. Comparatively, the CorkSport cat-back exhaust system for the MazdaSpeed 3 retails for $749. The AutoExe exhaust system is a great system in its own right, and it’s aesthetic will be perfect for some customers. However, the vast majority of US consumers want more exhaust for their money.

Next week we’ll tie the last two blogs together and discuss CorkSport’s mission.

– Rich