The amazing Mazdas of the ninEties that nobody remembers
Mazda is known for awesome cars like the RX-7, but there have been many more awesome cars that have been almost completely forgotten.
In the early nineties, Japan’s economy was booming and many of the manufacturers invested heavily - like Mazda. It tried to launch five new brands (Efini, Autozam, Amati, Xedos, Eunos) with mixed success. Efini and Xedos made badge engineered Mazda’s and were quite successful, with a few cars in their respective lineups, Autozam made kei cars, including a mid-engined sports car called the AZ-1. Eunos cars were mostly rebadged Mazda’s with the odd car only made as a Eunos - the 20B Eunos Cosmo, for example. Amati was meant to be the luxury marque to fight Infiniti and Lexus but no cars were ever sold. By the late nineties, the Japanese economy had plummeted and all five brands were killed off. But before they disappeared , some pretty special cars were made.
The Eunos Cosmo could trace its heritage all the way back to the Mazda Cosmo 110S of the late sixties, which was the first rotary powered Mazda. But it had changed a lot by the nineties, from a lightweight sports car to a bit of a brute of a thing. It was now twin-turbocharged with 300 up and 297 lb-ft but was more a luxury car than anything made to go fast. I mean, it was limited to 111 mph when it could have done 158. Unfortunately, since only 40% of them had the 20B (The others had a twin-turbo 13B), there were less than 9000 produced and many of these engines have been swapped into RX-7s there are very few of these wonderful cars around.
Amati cars, if they had gone into production, would have had a four car lineup: the 300 (turned into the Eunos 500 / Xedos 6), the 500 (Eunos 800 / Xedos 9 / Mazda Millenia), the 1000 (Efini MS-9 / Mazda Sentia) and an unnamed luxury coupe based on the Eunos Cosmo. Out of them all, the Amati 1000 is by far the most interesting. It had an aluminium 4.0 l W12 with a magnesium oil pan and cylinder heads and ceramic valves and pistons. Five hundred of these engines were produced for testing purposes but they were never put into production. It is suspected that the engine ended up in the Audi Avus concept car but this has not been verified.
This was a FWD luxury car with no direct predecessor or successor, but production was ended with the launch of the Mazda 6. It was the first car ever to feature the Miller Cycle engine, which held the intake valve open for much longer and used a supercharger to compensate for power loss. This cycle was supposed to yield up to 15% more power. The car had a 2.3 l V6 with the Miller Cycle, producing 210 hp and 210 lb-ft. The Miller Cycle was also used in the Mazda 2. The car was available in Japan with a yaw-sensitive four-wheel steering system as well; with this Mazda claimed that it could pass the Elk Test at speeds comparable to the BMW 850i and Nissan 300ZX.
RE-Amemiya GReddy VI-AZ1
Whilst this isn't technically a Mazda, it's so awesome that I just had to include it. The Autozam AZ-1 was a competitor to the Honda Beat and the Suzuki Cappucino, except more expensive than either of them. It didn’t really sell well, even though it had gullwing doors. But RE Amemiya, a renowned tuning shop, took one and turned it into something brilliant. Called the RE Amemiya Greddy VI-AZ1, it had aggressive bodywork added to make it look less like it might turn over and let you rub its tummy, the 20B rotary engine from a Eunos Cosmo was put in, the suspension was taken from a Porsche 962 and the brakes from a Ferrari F40. Then they decided that that wasn’t good enough so they repainted it, changed the bodywork again and changed the brakes for the ones from a Ferrari F50. Brilliant or what?
Mazda's a bit more awesome than you thought.