JCCS Preview: History of Mazda Premium and a tribute to a racing legend


Mazda’s plan for JCCS this Saturday is two-fold and promises something for Mazdafarians of all stripes — a history of high-end models and a tribute to its motorsports legends.


First, in a lineup called “The History of Mazda Premium,” in which aspirational cars from its past will be on display. Models in this segment will include the 1967 Cosmo Sport, three-rotor Eunos Cosmo, a newly restored 929 pre-production prototype, and the 2016 CX-9.

332-7585_Mazda 767B

On the motorsports side, Mazda is remembering the life of Yoshimi Katayama, a racing legend who passed away earlier this year. A replica of the 1979 Mazda RX-7 that he drove to a class victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona will be on display. However, 2016 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Mazda 787B’s win at Le Mans. Mazda be displaying the #202 1989 767B Group C racer, predecessor to that winning car, also fresh from a restoration completed earlier this year.

Mazda MX5 Miata ND Spyder Concept 05

Rounding out the display will be the ND Miata Spyder that Mazda built for SEMA. If you missed it there, here’s your chance to see it in person.

We at JNC will also have some new Mazda-related goods debuting at our booth, so be sure to stop by. The Japanese Classic Car Show begins 9:00 am on Saturday, September 24.

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30 Responses to JCCS Preview: History of Mazda Premium and a tribute to a racing legend

  1. Car Nut Seattle says:

    Like many people, I’ve heard of the Mazda Cosmo, I seem to remember only seeing one in person.

  2. Nigel says:

    Looking forward to the show coverage !!

  3. Ant says:

    Really like the way that Miata Spyder looks. Spent several minutes taking it in when they brought it to NYIAS. Great colour combo with that bikini top.

  4. Leon Dixon says:

    The 929 shown in the photo appears to be a 2nd-series N.A. 929 and not a first series prototype. And if it is indeed the actual 2nd-series prototype, then it should have the rare adjustable exhaust system (something the prototype had) as well as a special cell phone system that I designed (I’m betting it doesn’t). There were 3 of these systems mounted in pilot-production 2nd-series 929 vehicles. One was in the president’s car of Mazda R&D N.A. (MRA) and one as in the president’s car of Mazda Motor of America (MMA).

    However, the REAL “high-end Mazda history” would have to involve the ill-fated Amati-channel prototypes. One of these was a W-12 (12 cylinder) luxury sedan. The other was a slightly smaller car with a Miller-Cycle V-6. This latter car ultimately became the Mazda Millenia when the Amati channel was abandoned. This is where the real “premium history” story was.

    And for anyone wondering what “Amati” was… this was the name of the “Premium Channel” (the actual in-house reference we used) Mazda-built line. It was intended to have the same relationship with Mazda as Acura with Honda, Lexus with `Toyota, Infiniti with Nissan, etc. Of course, it never reached fruition.

    The histories are now apparently being re-written with whole new plug-in stories by folks who were never there… while the actual histories–the things that really happened– are slowly being lost forever… and that’s sad.

    • Jacob Brown says:

      We’re looking at picking up a Millenia. Patience, grasshopper. History isn’t being rewritten; it’s just we’re running with what we have until we pick up other assets sometime later.

      As for the Amati engine, it’s a V12. Early prototypes that never made it to testing were W12. We’re going to make a request for one sometime; all of the engines are in Japan, and it’s not a priority at the moment.

      • Leon Dixon says:

        “Grashopper” is unsure where the writer was when all this originally took place, but responds to whomever apparently envisions that they are master teacher…

        I SAW and sat in what I was told at the time was a W-12. This is what the Japanese engineers told me face to face–not something I read. And this car indeed was brought to the USA for testing under great secrecy. I very vividly recall the car. It was painted white with cobbled bodywork . This was not a hallucination. And having worked for the company for the better part of 20 years in both Japan and USA, I think I would know.

      • Leon Dixon says:

        By the way, those “grasshoppers” who were around at Mazda on the development side during the time all this happened were given a special gift that related to the Amati 12-cylinder engine. I still have mine. Know what that gift was and why it was made the way it was made? A real historian on these cars would know this immediately… your turn…

        • Jacob Brown says:

          The production engine was intended to be a V12.

          • Leon Dixon says:

            A lot of things were intended for production… but you can’t read about them on the internet or go around the office today and ask newbies what those things were.

            A lot of things may or may not have been intended… including the entire car. But production never happened. However, testing in the USA absolutely, positively DID take place, no matter who says what. Even if David Carradine climbs out of the grave and comes back to life and says so. Intentions are clearly not what we are talking about here anyway. AND… the great master of Mazda history still has not answered the simple Mazda historical question previously posed!

            And here’s another question for the Mazda master of history: what component of the Amati senior and junior line ended up on Infinity and Lexus?

    • Legacy-san says:

      The 929 shown was sold in Japan as the HD series Mazda Sentia/ ɛ̃fini MS-9, which replaced the 929/Luce. There was a HE series Sentia which wasn’t sold in North America, but was sold in Japan and Korea, the Korean being sold as the Kia Enterprise. I think it is this HE series vehicle that was intended to be the Amati flagship, and may have been the test mule with the W12 engine installed. The HE series is slightly shorter but is a little taller, sold with a 3.0 V6.

      • Leon Dixon says:

        The test mule that I recall had hugely cobbled 929 body components and other things all mooshed together. I am absolutely dead certain that car would have never ended up restored back to a regular 929.

        And yes, I am very familiar with previous 929/Luce (which my counterparts in Japan pronounced “loo-chay” and used to turn up at taxis in certain areas). I first drove one of these cars at Myoshi. There was also a 4-door hardtop version of 1st-series 929 body (don’t recall nomenclatures) and these had nicer tail lights than anything seen in N.A. There were also 929 bodies I saw overseas badged as KIA (again don’t recall nomenclature) after 929 1st series ceased N.A. availability.

  5. Mark Newton-John says:

    Agree. Amati would have been a great line. And now Hyundai is spinning off Genesis as it’s premium brand.
    I loved the 929, especially the solar cell sunroof. Great design, but a bit small for North American tastes.
    Surprised though that the Millenia veered from Mazda nomenclature (x2x) why was that? I’d figured it would be a 727; above the 626, below the 929. Or was that Boeing’s fault?
    Here’s hoping for a three-rotor RX-9 and a Neo RX-3 (rotary Mazda 3) to go up against the Focus RS, VW GTI, Subaru WRX. How about a rotary MX-5, call it an RX-5?

  6. Leon Dixon says:

    The 929 you refer to was the second series N.A. 929. It was not intended to be large, but rather more like a Jaguar sedan. And yes… wasn’t that solar sunroof with automatic venting great??? Wasn’t it great?

    Again, Millenia was not originally intended to be a Mazda brand. It was intended to be an Amati. The smaller of two Amati lines. And you may recall that at that time, Mazda products were already abandoning the symmetrical numbers for model names. For instance for a while there was GLC, which they tried to reel in to become 323, only to become Protege. There were also MX designations and others that evolved. And eventially (in the USA) Miata. Had nothing at all to do with Boeing. But if loss of the symmetical numbers was preferable to names like “Millenia”… eventually things got really creative and catchy … like… 6…3.

  7. Mark Newton-John says:

    I love how Mazda asserted it’s mark with the MX-5, blocking BMW from designating their performance X5 as an “MX5”
    I think the reason the GLC didn’t use the 323 designation was because of BMW. So now, what does Mazda think of Mercedes-Benz using GLC for their SUV?
    Loved the GLC, we had a 1978, and the clutch was a breeze compared to the stiff clutch of my 1974 TE27…

    • Ant says:

      Mazda would have had to have been particularly prescient to have chosen MX-5 with the intent of preventing BMW from using the moniker – the MX-5 was called such right from the beginning in 1989 in some territories, a full decade before the BMW X5 even existed. And two full decades before BMW actually launched an X5 M…

      It is funny how names get reused however. Lest we forget, Mazda showed a Miata M Coupe in 1996, and BMW later built… a Z3 M Coupe. People always confuse me with talk of R32s too – I think GT-R, but they’re invariably talking about the VW Golf. Granted, one is an internal model code and the other a vehicle designation, but still.

      • Mark Newton-John says:

        I’m not sure where the MX-5 designation originally came from, but for the longest time, Miatas were simply Miatas. No one really called them MX-5s, at least in North America. Then the X5 came out and then Mazda started asserting the MX-5 designation.
        Ah, I remember now, Mazda was calling their Otto-engines cars MX (MX-3, MX-5, and MX-6), and of course the rotary was the RX-7.

  8. Mark Newton-John says:

    A W-12 would’ve been very cool, and super compact, but an engineering nightmare. That is, three banks of four cylinders (is that correct?) as opposed to the Audi/Volkswagen/Bentley two banks of narrow angle V-6 cylinders.

    • Leon Dixon says:

      If you remember the MX-3… it had a cute little V-6… hint…hint.

      • Ant says:

        What relevance does the MX-3’s V6 have here? As the article linked by Legacy-san shows below, the W12 was indeed three banks of four cylinders, rather than two V6s joined at the crank.

        In fact, it’s the sort of information it would have been helpful for you to provide originally, rather than antagonising Jacob about his knowledge.

        If you’re so familiar with the project and have some insider knowledge the rest of the world isn’t privy to, then why not tell us about it? Be the authority on the subject, rather than being the know-it-all who won’t tell-it-all.

        • Jacob Brown says:

          My information comes from engineers who worked on the project. I’d be more than happy to mention more at JCCS if you’re there. If not, I’ll get Ben in contact with the right people. Honestly, though, it’s all for naught; the Amati 1000 didn’t happen. The 929 did.

          • Leon Dixon says:

            Gonna put “Ben in contact with the right people” huh? You mean someone who’ll say what you want them to say?

            I wasn’t giving second or third-hand responses picked up from anonymous sources. I wasn’t parroting back something I read someplace or what somebody told me. My information comes out of my head… out of memories, not other people’s stories. I didn’t have to go ask anyone anything–not regarding this subject. So yes… it IS “for naught”… but not for the reasons stated.

            You are in no position to lecture me about any of this. I was there…you obviously weren’t. And if the past or disrespecting those having been there is a cute thing to do on this internet “forum,” then you ought to stop referencing “history” and just state “might is right” and leave it at that.

            No, I won’t be seeking an audience with the great Mazda history master(s) at JCCS or anywhere else. And for all those who are offended at knowing any real Mazda history and prefer the spiels, I’ll refrain from making any further comments. So you can gleefully spin whatever stories you so choose. Have fun!

        • mattwithoutyou says:

          This has to be the dude that was all over the comments of the post about Mr. K’s Z, and a post about current higher ups at Mazda actually racing the historic cars recently, (think it was Monterrey?).

          Let me sum up his posts for you: Mazda NA is bad, mothership Japan is good. He has forgotten more than any of us will ever know about Mazda, either prove yourself worthy by citing his obscure inside knowledge or don’t bother writing the articles. Old Mazda employees were Gods, the new guys are total garbage. Did I leave anything out? Oh, and for good measure, Japan good, US bad. That one is so important I did it twice.

          • Leon Dixon says:

            Another forum troll, huh? Everybody’s got a navel. Don’t bother you with the facts because you already have your mind made up huh? Every “forum” on the internet has a badass or a bunch of them. Some are even paid to write what they are paid to write. Let me guess, Matt… you’re one of the newbies or maybe on the payroll somehow? Nice summaries (word twistings). But they are YOUR summaries.

            And you are welcome to jump to any absurd conclusions you choose or to twist statements into whatever you want them to say–but YOU own that.

            However the myth being perpetrated that whatever exists today in American management at Mazda…somehow suddenly getting interested in racing and mugging for cameras is just that: a myth. You can push the button all you want… but believing all this silliness is merely your choice. I heartily support your right to remain blissfully blind all you want. But no matter how much you rub your Mazda “seagull” it won’t erase the REAL Mazda history or change the facts–even if you stick your head in the sand while you are raising the digit.

            For anyone who cares (and apparently there are those of you who don’t) Mazda (North America) always had a very deep involvement with racing. Ever heard of IMSA?

            The manager of racing division for North America in the early 1980s was an American. His name was Damon Barnett and his desk was only a few feet from mine. His Japanese counterpart was Ken Kinoshita. We had an entire section of the warehouse on McGaw in Irvine, California that was just for racing parts… which were shipped out to people we sponsored all over North America. Once a year we had a big party in the Mazda grandstand…. on the Mazda hairpin turn at Riverside Raceway during the races. Racers, their cars and crews would all arrive at Mazda North America and spend at least a week prepping cars at our facility. This was BEFORE the existence of the so-called “museum” in California (it was a vacant lot) or before any of the folks boasting and mugging today were ever around–and certainly not working for Mazda. We had free or deeply discounted tickets to all major races in North America. And each employee of Mazda North America (NOT Mazda Motor of America) got souvenir bags and special Mazda race ticket holders (I still have most of mine). But… you already know all this stuff already… right?

            Anybody can walk into a ready-made situation and make it appear any way they choose. It is always easy to be a poser and stand tall while doing so on somebody else’s shoulders.

            I know, you don’t wanna hear about all this old stuff because the newbie stories are better… right? Oh… but then… we were discussing Mazda “history”… weren’t we? But what good is history if it’s just a word?

            By the way… the “Monterrey” with two R’s is in Mexico, not California, USA

        • Leon Dixon says:

          What relevance indeed. Know-it-all indeed.The relevance of the MX-3 V-6 is something the big newbie cheeses who are mouthing off here ought to immediately know–IF they are so knowledgeable about this his history instead of merely being gas passers.

          And you ought to know rather than jumping to conclusions and making it appear that things were said that were never said.

          Nobody made any moronic statement about “V6s joined at the crank”… that didn’t come from me… so WHO said that? And why is that relevant here? And why is it being stated here? Hmmm?

          And the one doing the antagonizing here is anyone calling someone “grasshopper”… which indicates rank learner getting information from a “master” (you’d have to be born before the Apollo moon landing to understand this perhaps).

          Problem is, the guy you are defending is no master. Just some kind of apparent spokesperson distributing stories and posing. And was never there when these things happened in the first place. These people get hired and a title and a business card and by golly–they’re on the job! And folks bow and scrape in their almighty emperor-has-no-clothes presence.

          So when caught posing or making wrong pronouncements, the response is (rather than admitting ignorance) to minimize the entire subject… and to insult people who were actually there and know what they are talking about. And people– like lemmings–go right along with this silliness and even defend it!

          I don’t have to go to ask anybody about any of this. I don’t have to send questions to Japan or go around the office at either either MRA or MMA (what’s left of it) asking newbies. I was there. Smarting off with me may seem like a good idea, but I assure you… it just SEEMS like a good idea. It is not showing your intellect. So if you choose to use typical internet forum troll tactics… and to connect the dots to come to wrong conclusions and make these pronouncements… or to put words in the mouths of others… WHY aren’t you asking the wisenheimer who is making silly statements and arguments and minimizing facts? Ask him to give you the big answer. And if he doesn’t know, ask him why he doesn’t know.

          • Ant says:

            If you put as much effort into offering your knowledge to JNC for an actual story as you do with long responses on everyone else being wrong, then these comment sections would be a great deal more pleasant.

            So let me rephrase what I said above as you’ve unfortunately used it as an opportunity to turn your angst on someone who would genuinely be interested to know more:

            Mark Newton-John asked whether the engine was three banks of four cylinders, or four banks of three (as would be implied by two V6s joined at the crank.

            Legacy-san below provided a link detailing it was indeed three banks of four.

            So what does “If you remember the MX-3… it had a cute little V-6… hint…hint” actually mean? You presumably agree with Legacy-san that the W12 was designed with three banks of four cylinders (or do you?), so in this context, what is the relevance of bringing up the MX-3’s V6? I’m genuinely interested to know.

            And as for “WHY aren’t you asking the wisenheimer who is making silly statements and arguments and minimizing facts?”…

            …if he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, why would I ask him, and not yourself, who purports to know more? What knowledge would I glean asking someone who is allegedly incorrect when I could ask someone who allegedly is?…

          • Ant says:

            Addendum to the above:

            And for avoidance of confusion from the terminology I’m using, by “two V6s joined at the crank” I’m referring to Mark’s comment about “two banks of narrow-angle V6 cylinders”.

            Volkswagen Group’s current W12 engines are effectively that, two V6 (well, VR6, as each bank of six cylinders shares a head) formations operating from a single crank.

  9. Legacy-san says:

    …and continuing on the 929/Sentia…here’s a copy of a Japanese language article showing the proposed Amati with diagrams of the W12…


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