Mazda 100th Anniversary Edition models include a nod to the R360 Coupé

Mazda is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and they are marking the milestone with a series of 100th Anniversary Special Edition cars. Announced this morning in Japan, the lineup draws inspiration from Mazda’s very first passenger car, thee 1960 R360 Coupé, a best-selling styling icon in its day.

The R360 Coupé was developed as a people’s car, but that didn’t mean it had to sacrifice style. The Jetsonian kei jidosha offered a relatively sophisticated four-stroke engine when most other cars in its class ran noisy, smoky two-strokes, and at one point was the best-selling passenger car in Japan. It offered an automatic transmission and used many lightweight alloys in its mechanical bits and monocoque body, all fairly advanced for the R360’s segment.

Top-of-the-line R360 Coupés wore two-tone paint jobs with a colored roof and matching interior, with the dark red over white colorway perhaps the most iconic. In fact, the R360 seen in Mazda’s promotional materials appears to be the one that was restored by Hiroshima high school students in 2017.

Throughout 2020, Mazda plans to release 100th Anniversary Special Edition versions of most of its models. Each will be finished in white with dark cherry interiors as an homage to the R360 Coupé.

Each will feature headrests embossed with Mazda’s 100th Anniversary logo, and floormats with an metallic insert reading “100 YEARS 1920-2020”. Mazda says that only upper trim levels will receive thee 100th Anniversary treatment.

On some models, like the Mazda3 and CX-5 (above), the interiors will also have white accents, which hearken back to the R360 Coupé’s sections of body colored metal exposed in the old school spartan cabin.

All 100th Anniversary Special Editions will also come with the 100th Anniversary logo stamped on the key fob. The logo uses the original Mazda logo, as explained in Part 01 of our Mazda 100 year retrospective, a stylized kanji representing engineering and industry, combined with the modern Mazda crest.

Wheels of the 100th Anniversary Special Edition cars will feature the same logo in their center caps in lieu of the regular Mazda emblem.

All the cars will feature an additional exterior badge that says “100 YEARS 1920-2020” as well. The first 100th Anniversary cars to be released will be the Mazda2, Mazda3, and CX-3 sometime around June 2020 in Japan.

Following those in July will be the CX-30, CX-5, CX-8, and Roadster in both soft top and RF versions. As a bonus, the soft top will come in dark cherry as well, hewing most closely to the R360 Coupé. Lastly, the Mazda6 will get the treatment in August.

Mazda North America hasn’t announced when the 100th Anniversary Special Editions will be available, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the delay. Nor has Mazda specified build numbers, if any, for these special editions.

Often special edition cars can be overwrought and gimmicky. The 30th Anniversary Miata, for example, was a bit garish for our tastes, but even then it sold out in four hours after launch. These 100th Anniversary cars strike the right balance of distinctiveness and class. It’s a unique but understated way to commemorate a centennial, and we think they look superb.

Images courtesy of Mazda.

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6 Responses to Mazda 100th Anniversary Edition models include a nod to the R360 Coupé

  1. Lee L said:

    Now that is how you do an anniversary edition. Beautiful car.

  2. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    Real classy, tasteful Red & White combination on the R360. Wish they would have carried that through to the Anniversary Edition.

    P.S. Tried commenting on Isuzu a number of times but wouldn’t take… Great article!!! I love the 117 Coupe’ penned by Guigiaro at Ghia.

  3. Ian N said:

    Bit bemused, great article, but when exactly was the R360 (one of my personal favourites, too) “at one point [was] the best-selling passenger car in Japan” ? I had thought the Subaru 360 was best selling Kei car from 1958 to 1968, then knocked off its perch by the Honda N360.
    Are we talking two different categories here?

    • Ben Hsu said:

      I think it was in 1960. The Mazda R360 sold around 23,400 units its first year. The Subaru 360’s sales were around 17,000 at the time. The Subaru sold more overall due to its popularity and 12-year run, but the Mazda did top them for a brief moment!

    • Dave Yuan said:

      +1

      In its debut year, the R360 captured close to 65% of the kei car market!

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