If you ever find yourself in Hiroshima, you owe it to yourself to visit the Mazda Museum. It’s easily accessible by either car or train, and is located right at the heart of the company’s headquarters. Recently, Mazda renovated their museum to bring it more in line using the colors, materials and design they’ve been slowly rolling out to their global dealerships. The result is a unified look and feel that says “Mazda” whether you’re at a showroom in Hoboken or the master collection in Hiroshima.
To visit the museum, you must first book a time slot at the Mazda website. The slot includes a factory tour as well, where you can see actual production Mazdas being put together. Upon arrival at your designated time slot, you check in at the lobby of the headquarters building, or Entrance Hall, to meet your tour group. Then, a bus will shuttle you to the museum, which is buried deep in the massive industrial facility.
Before the renovation, the museum seemed like a bunch of cars stuffed in to the spare room at one of the assembly lines, because, well, that’s what it is. The new design makes the facility look much more museum-like. Everything is blacked out except for the displays, and there’s a lot more placards and timelines to explain the stories behind each exhibit. You can still see the old space on Google Maps.
Perhaps the most intriguing part about the redesigned museum is that there is now a section devoted to motorsports. Here, a Mazda RX-7 Group B rally machine and R100 touring car are given a proper showcase. These cars were not on regular display in the old museum, so it looks like we’ll have to revisit it at some point.
The Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B sits in a special display all on its own, and deservedly so. Next to it is an R26B quad-rotor race engine. This very special race car used to sit in a nondescript little room not really befitting of its historic importance. Now it looks properly revered.
Once you’ve snaked your way through the museum, you walk through a set of doors into the hustle and bustle of a working factory. The facility is decades old, and while the technology has improved over the years it feels quite claustrophobic compared to modern factories. Still, it feels kind of like walking on hallowed ground simply because so many incredible cars have been built there.
A new section devoted to concept cars is a welcome addition. The entire visit would probably be worth it just to see the stunning RX-Vision and Vision Coupe on their own, but the tour offers so much more.
Finally, a proper gift shop has been installed. The old one pretty much consisted of a small receptionist’s desk and a few display items just sitting on a counter. There were no shelves, no display cases, no hardwood floors. If memory serves, it had about six things on display, none of which were worth buying. Again, it was that whole “let’s shove something in a spare room” feel. Now there looks to be a substantial selection of items for sale in a classy retail environment.
The newly renovated Mazda Museum officially opens its doors on May 23. It was always a can’t miss stop on any automotive enthusiast’s bucket list. Now it’s a much more pleasant experience to boot.
Images courtesy of Mazda.