INSPIRE

What does Mazda mean to you?

There are few car manufacturers that inspire such devotion and passion as Mazda. We meet some of the owners, collectors, employees and fans from around the world to find out what makes Mazda so special.

MEET FRED JONES

American fan Fred Jones loves dressing sharply—and is proud of the style statement his pair of MX-5s makes on the road.

“Fashion has always been my go-to since the mid-70s. I’ve always been interested in style, and I’ve always driven unusual cars,” he says.

Fred owns both an NB and NC MX-5, and frequently turns heads when driving around his neighbourhood. “I call the second series model Robin, from Batman and Robin,” he smiles.

His NC, meanwhile, is known as the Panther. “It has the look of a panther that’s hunting in the jungle; the speed, the stealth… People know when they see the car that it’s mine. They say: ‘There goes Fred!’ It’s become my signature.”

But fashion isn’t just a hobby for Fred—he runs Jones 2000 & Beyond, an organization that holds workshops for young people and ex-offenders on attire, etiquette and social skills. “All this is still tied in with fashion—what to wear, when to wear it and how to present yourself,” he says.

And the MX-5, Fred says, fits perfectly with the work he does. “It’s timeless and traditional, but changes with the times in a way that maintains its core values. When you look at the MX-5 through its stages, it represents transitions in my own life. The fourth series has improved on the original, and that is significant in how my life has moved forward. I just can’t see myself driving anything other than an MX-5.

“I just can’t see myself driving anything other than an MX-5.”

Fred Jones, MX-5 FAN

MEET ODIEL MENNINK

Dutch automotive journalist and a judge for the Women’s World Car of the Year.

“Mazda has a special meaning for me. I got my racing licence in a Mazda MX-5 in 2014, and I drive a jet-black fourth-generation MX-5. I call it my Batmobile.

I love how it feels to drive a roadster—it’s so light and agile. The MX-5 is also rear-wheel drive, which is important for a serious car buff. It’s an affordable sports car and unique in its class. For me, Mazda means quality, design, functionality and progressiveness. You know what you get with Mazda. And Mazda takes you into account as a driver. You feel like the car is made for you.

My brother restores cars and looks after my MX-5 for me. He’s very happy when he looks inside the car, because it’s clearly made by engineers for engineers.

I’ve been a judge for the Women’s World Car of the Year award for four years now. This year, the Mazda3 was the winner. I think the car is really well balanced. It combines simple lines with a bold appearance, and the powertrains and safety features are good too. And it’s just a joy to drive. You get a lot of car for the price. Not many car brands last as long as 100 years, and Mazda just keeps getting better and better.”

“Mazda just keeps getting better and better.”

ODIEL MENNINK, AUTOMOTIVE JOURNALIST

MEET YANICK MORIN

Canadian Mazda Technician for over 25 years.

“I’ve been working at Sittelle Mazda in Saint-Georges, Quebec, since March 1995. When I started, I was washing cars, but my passion for the vehicles inspired me to start a career as a mechanic.

My first Mazda was a 1990 MX-5, which I bought when I was 17 or 18 years old. I immediately fell in love with driving that car. I’m now 43, and I’ve kept it in excellent condition over the years. I replaced the engine about ten years ago with a 1.8-litre version from the 2000 MX-5. She has found her youth again!

I have a real passion for Mazdas—I’ve owned 17, and my latest is a magnificent Mazda6 2018 GS-L Turbo in black. Among the others I have owned are a 1992 MX-3 Precidia; 1992, 2000 and 2002 Protegés; a 2001 Protegé MP3; a 2005 Mazda6 V6 manual; and three Mazda3s.

I love cars and I’m always researching unique vehicles. Driving a Mazda is a special experience compared to all the other cars I’ve driven during my career.”

“My passion for Mazda’s vehicles inspired me to start a career as a mechanic.”

Yanick morin, mazda technician

MEET LUIS AND SARAH CHAIDEZ

Californian couple who help organize U.S. rotary engine festival Sevenstock.

“I’ve had a number of Mazda RX-7s throughout my life and now I own two: a 1986 RX-7, which is the first one I ever purchased, and a 1980 RX-7, which I’d wanted for a long time,” says Luis.

“My wife, Sarah, is also into the automotive scene and is part of the SevenStock committee. She helps design banners and graphics, and has been a heavy influence and huge support.

I’ve had the 1980 RX-7 for a year now and want it to be as immaculate and original as possible. I’d love for our son, Elliot, to grow up with this car and to share this history with him so he can appreciate it when he comes of age.

The RX-7 belonged to a woman named Linda. She was getting outrageous offers for it, but she didn’t want people gutting it and taking it down the drag strip. I sent her a message saying I’d love to buy the car. ‘You look like the kind of guy who will take good care of it, and this is my college car,’ she told me. I bought it without even looking at it; I trusted her and wired the money! I’ve invited Linda to our SevenStock event this year. She’s ecstatic about seeing the car come back to life.

The RX-7 definitely set Mazda apart from other manufacturers. It had the spirit of never giving up, which continues with the innovation in its new designs. Mazda has always been true to itself. The RX-7 has that sporty, timeless design, and the car’s nimbleness is unique.”

“I’d love our son to grow up with this car and to share this history with him.”

Luis and sarah chaidez, mazda rx-7 fans

MEET THE FREY FAMILY

Markus Frey’s family has owned a Mazda dealership in Augsburg, Germany, for over four decades. The family Markus Frey (above left), his father Walter (centre) and brother Joachim (right) own Frey’s Mazda Classic Car Museum in Augsburg, Germany – the only officially sanctioned Mazda museum outside Japan.

“My father started his Mazda dealership over 40 years ago, and now has three in Augsburg. He liked Mazda as it was different from the other automobile companies.

Our museum collection includes a 1950 Type-GB, which we got about eight years ago. It is more compact and stronger than the earlier three-wheelers and it’s the oldest Mazda in the museum. We start our sightseeing tours with it.

The Type-GB was so special that my brother, my father and I completely restored it together. We also did a colour test with the Mazda-Go in the Mazda museum in Hiroshima because we wanted ours to be the same blue.

My brother and I grew up with Mazda, and have followed in our father’s footsteps. Our dream was to make a museum and, after collecting cars for over 30 years, we now have them all in one place. People come from all over the world to see our collection. We have nearly every Mazda ever built, apart from some prototypes that are impossible to get.”

“My brother and I grew up with Mazda, and have followed in our father’s footsteps.”

MARKUS FREY, CO-OWNER OF FREY’S MAZDA CLASSIC CAR MUSEUM

Words Helene Dancer

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