The MAZDASPEED name traces its origin to an independent racing team in 1967 under the name "Mazda Sports Corner" by a Mazda employee, specializing in performance tuning at Mazda Auto Tokyo, Japan's largest Mazda dealer. Impressed by the performance potential of the Cosmo 110S, the team ambitiously set out to establish a Mazda presence at major motorsports events worldwide. This operation fielded entries in races around the world and had relative success with Wankel engine powered cars in the 1980s and as Mazda launched new models, Mazda Sports Corner raced them.
In 1983, Mazda Motor Corporation now providing company support relocated the racing team from Tokyo to the company's corporate headquarters in Hiroshima in order to help drive Mazda's factory racing ambitions, and it was here that the MAZDASPEED name was born.
Sights were turned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans where during the eighties Mazda saw some class wins, and then in 1991, the MAZDASPEED team succeeded in doing what no other Japanese auto maker before or since has been able to accomplish: finishing first overall win at the world's most prestigious endurance race.
The FIA outlawed rotary engines after the 1991 Le Mans race. This forced the MAZDASPEED team to shift its focus more on the business side of motorsports and started developing and building aftermarket parts and accessories . In 1999, Mazda Motor Corporation took full control of MAZDASPEED and has used its talents to supply racing parts and serve as an umbrella for all of Mazda's motor sports activities. Since 1999 MAZDASPEED has been Mazda’s in-house tuning and performance parts division.
In 2001 the first MX-5 to carry the Mazdaspeed name was a special edition model released exclusively for the Japanese market. This Roadster model, limited to 200 units featured some unique Mazdaspeed branded parts. The car came in one colour only, Starry Blue Mica combined with the gold painted 16" RS wheels which gave the car a very distinctive appearance.
The Mazdaspeed Roadster had the full optional aero kit, a gold Mazdaspeed decal on the left front side, a body coloured front strut brace, Mazdaspeed uprated engine mounts, Mazdaspeed exhaust manifold, Mazdaspeed uprated differential mounts, Mazdaspeed rear exhaust silencer, and adjustable Mazdaspeed suspension.
The interior has a few subtle additions to separate it from a regular model. There are blue instrument rings on the speedometer and rev counter, and a carbon fibre effect centre console trim The seats, were finished in black cloth with blue contrast stitching. For details click here
The Mazdaspeed Miata in the North America, Roadster Turbo in Japan or MX-5 SE in Australia were the only factory produced turbocharged versions of the MX-5.
Interestingly, it was Australia who did it first, and inspired Mazda head office in Japan to build them for the rest of the globe.
The MX-5 SP (Special Performance) was a limited production model created exclusively for the Australian market in 2002. Mazda Australia’s Motorsport Division, with permission from Headquarters in Japan, commissioned a turbo conversion developed by Melbourne based Prodrive.
The SP model is little known outside of Australia, and probably deserves more recognition as it's unlikely the arguably more glamorous Mazdaspeed Miata / Roadster Turbo would have followed without it.
To learn more about this very unique model click here.