Mazda Australia recently celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in Mulgrave, a suburb of Melbourne. While this type of news usually excites business journals more than enthusiasts, the new state-of-the-art building does have something that catches our attention: a prominent collection of classic Mazdas.
Mazda has been riding high in Australia lately. It is currently the second best-selling brand in that country, right behind Toyota. Australia is also one of the epicenters of Mazda’s international motorsport legacy, its rotary-powered race cars having made their mark at the iconic Mount Panorama Circuit at Bathurst. This legacy has been documented in books and commemorated with no fewer than seven special editions of the FD3S RX-7. It is thus fitting that Mazda gets a new home suitable for its current and future prospects in Australia.
The new HQ houses a staff of 215 as well as technical training facilities for its dealers, of which there are currently more than 750. The new building has a five-star rating in environmental sustainability and is modern in design and appears to be architecturally sophisticated. From the street, the massive glass façade gives it a buildings-within-a-building appearance. Impressively, that greenhouse-like space actually serves as a showroom exhibiting Mazda’s heritage.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where senior Mazda global executive Yuji Nakamine celebrated by smashing open a drum of sake, the showroom was lined with two quintessential Mazda sports cars: a L10B Cosmo Sport 110S and a Mach Green SA22C RX-7. Like its North American counterpart, Mazda Australia also has a Heritage Collection where these cars normally reside. Other members of this collection housed in and on display at the new HQ included NA, NB, and NC MX-5 Miatas.
Notably, the NB was an MX-5 SP, the Aussie-market turbo model developed by the local Mazda Motorsport division. Released in 2002, it had a Garret turbocharger bolted onto the 1.8L BP-Z3 accompanied by an air-to-air intercooler. Along with revised injectors, intake, exhaust, radiator, and ECU, the SP powerplant was good for 211hp and incurred only a 3% weight penalty. This was an expensive and rare special model — only 100 were produced — distinct from the Mazdaspeed/Roadster Turbo.
But wait, there’s more! Other cars on display from Australia’s Heritage Collection included the following: a beautifully yellow piston-powered Capella sedan.
The Mazda3 MPS that raced in the 2012 Targa Tasmania, giving Mazda Motorsport its 5th consecutive Showroom Title.
Allan Moffat’s RX-7 that raced in the Australian Touring Car Championship, Bathurst 1000, and Australian Endurance Championship…
The FD3S RX-7 driven by Gregg Hansford and Neil Crompton that won the 1994 Bathurst 12 Hour.
And the FD3S RX-7 SP driven by Dick Johnson and John Bowe that won the 1995 Eastern Creek 12 Hour and took a podium finish at Targa Tasmania.
Carrying those “SP” letters again, this last car is particularly special. It was developed locally to be competitive in Australian GT racing against the likes of Honda NSX and Porsche 911 and 968. A homologation run of 35 production cars was made available to the public in 1995. It included carbon fiber nose, hood, and wing, upgraded brakes, intercooler, exhaust, and ECU, 17-wheels, Recaro racing seats, and a slight weight reduction. Its exterior appearance was identical to that of the proposed M2 1020; this along with its racing pedigree and rarity make for one of the most desirable FD3S RX-7s. The race car that started it is thus more than a worthy treasure for the Heritage Collection.
Congratulations to Mazda Australia on its new home.
Images courtesy of Mazda.