Mazda Automobil Museum Frey
A piece of Japan in Germany
The Frey brothers' automobile museum is located in the German city of Augsburg. This is one of the oldest German cities and also a city whose history has been well preserved. So, among the many classic buildings, the industrial building in which the museum is located does not look out of place. Thanks to the spacious car park on the inner grounds, the museum is also regularly used for gatherings of Mazda enthusiasts.
Nearly all the cars on display at the museum are restored and roadworthy. The cars are used for special events and, partly for this reason, the collection changes regularly. Still, every visit starts with the first means of transport Mazda produced. The "Go" (1931 - 1938) is a three-wheeled motorbike with a box on the back. Its design was inspired by the Harley Davidson that an American soldier dumped in a river near the Mazda factory and was then fished out by Mazda's first employees. The engine technology was still primitive and, according to the more than enthusiastic guide, this is why the Go makes as much noise as a helicopter. It is therefore the only museum piece that is not started regularly to keep the engine in condition.
The very beginning
The first Mazda passenger car was the "R360 Coupe" (1960 - 1969). An endearing little car with a charm that many could fall for even today. The "Carol" (1962 - 1970) is a size larger and offers space for four people. The editor's favourite is the "Chantez" (1972 - 1976), which was later adopted by Daihatsu partly thanks to its charming looks.
The rotary engine (also known as "Wankel engine") is an important part of Mazda's history. The most iconic rotary-engined model is the "Cosmo Sport 110S" (1967 - 1972). Partly because of its beautiful design, the Cosmo is still a much-loved model, which is why this most precious piece in the collection is prominently displayed (see also the panoramic photo).
Though the on-duty guide's favourite is the "Luce R130' (1969 - 1971). Fewer examples of this were produced than the Cosmo, making the Luce a real connoisseur's car.
Custom cars and enthusiast cars
Mazda's greatest success was with the 323, which is why it can be seen in many guises, from the first generation (1977 - 1980) to the current Mazda3. There has even been a 323 Cabriolet!
According to sales numbers, the world's favourite convertible is the MX-5. Frey shows not only all generations of the MX-5, but also special editions. These include a lacklustre coupé (red car above, rear) and one with limited engine power (90bhp) to get a benefit on car insurance in Germany.
In addition to the well-known models, the Automobil Museum also displays Mazda's "outings". For example, the "Roadpacer" (1975 - 1977) was a large American-oriented sedan. The body was bought without an engine from General Motors and then fitted with a rotary engine (and a fridge in the boot!) and sold as a Mazda. For the Australian market, Mazda supplies pick-up trucks and pure off-road vehicles.
The German city of Augsburg is home to the "Mazda Classic Automobil Museum Frey". The official Mazda museum in Hiroshima, Japan, displays unique concept cars or anniversary copies that come straight into the museum from the factory. The Mazda Museum in Germany, on the other hand, shows cars that have actually been used. Private collectors restore them and put them on display. That makes this like a unique piece of Japan in Germany!
Because the collection is much larger than the exhibition space, the exhibits change regularly. The museum always tries to give a picture of Mazda's history from the first motorbike to the last car. It focuses on unique (sports) cars and everyday family cars. As the museum occupies only one room, half an hour is sufficient to view all the cars.
So opt for a guided tour by one of the more than enthusiastic attendants. They can tell the stories associated with the development of technology or the unique background of a car on display. If so, the Mazda Museum is even a place to spend hours.