Mazda’s Futuristic MX-81 Restored And Resplendent

Mazda MX81

An interesting Mazda documentary called ‘The Shape of Time’ has been released on YouTube and tells the story of the futuristic MX-81, the brand’s first concept car, 40 years after its debut at the 1981 Tokyo Motor Show.

The fascinating short clip about the wedge-shaped coupé designed by Marc Dechamps has been commissioned by Mazda Italy and produced by Lungta Film and looks back at the challenges manufacturers faced when creating the first Mazda to bear the ‘MX’ badge – reference to ‘Mazda eXperimental’.

Most prototypes are either destroyed or missing in action after any promotional activities and events are finished but not in this case. In 2019, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, responsible for the rotary engine and Program Manager MX-5 for more than 40 years, discovered the strange-looking MX- 81 stored in a warehouse at Mazda’s headquarters in Hiroshima.

Mazda MX-81

Tired and still wearing the same overcoat, the concept car was immediately sent to Mazda Italia for a complete restoration, a process that was handed over to SuperStile, in Turin, under the coordination of Flávio Gallizio. Its conclusion was celebrated with a reconstruction of the famous photo session of that same MX-81, in front of the Cathedral of Milan, as it was about 40 years ago.

The restoration was accompanied by the development of a new documentary, which examines everything behind the MX-81 and the pivotal role it played in the growing relationship between the talent of Italian design and Japanese artisanal engineering, a collaboration that began, almost by chance, about 20 years before the birth of this first Mazda concept!

Italian design meets Japanese technology

In 1960, Hideyuki Miyakawa, then a young writer in the automotive world, traveled to Italy and there he met Giorgetto Giugiaro, at the height already in charge of Design at Bertone, at the Turin Motor Show.

At that same time, she would also meet Marisa Bassano, a Japanese / Italian interpreter who had a passion for cars, with whom she would marry. In 1961, on the occasion of a training trip to Hiroshima, Hideyuki would meet Tsuneji Matsuda, then President of Mazda, and the two discussed the importance of design in the Japanese automotive industry.

Mazda MX-81

Once back in Turin, Hideyuki and Marisa started to work as intermediaries between the legendary Italian design studios Bertone, Ghia and Pinifarina and the Japanese car manufacturers. The collaboration between Mazda and Bertone led to the emergence of the Mazda Familia and Mazda Luce, both designed by Giugiaro in the 1960s, and then continued even after the Italian designer moved to Ghia, leading to the creation of the MX concept -81, in 1981.

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