Mazda gets in on Japanese vintage road rally

By CARSIFU | 30 March 2016

LOS ANGELES: Mazda is collaborating with Japanese Nostalgic Car as a title sponsor for the upcoming 200-mile (324km) Touge California all-Japanese vintage road rally held in the US on April 2.

The rally is expected to see 28 rare and original Japanese cars built during the 1960s to early 1980s and will have their starting point begin in San Diego before winding up the coast and ending at Mazda's R&D facility in Irvine, California.

Out of the 28 cars, the participating vehicles are 11 Mazdas including a 1975 Rotary-Engine Pickup (REPU), a 1978 GLC compact hatchback and 1985 RX-7 GSL-SE from Mazda's own heritage collection.

Touge California was founded in 2015 by Hsu and rally master Patrick Strong after seeing many famous vintage rallies like Targa Florio or Carrera Panamericana for European cars, but nothing exclusive for Japanese makes.

According to both Hsu and Strong, the event have seen a substantial increase in the number of participants even with a limited age requirement of 40 years or older for the vehicle to be deemed eligible.

The Japanese word "Touge" translates directly as "mountain pass," but in this case, the term is now associated with celebrating vehicles that were both mainstays sold in the the US and rare or exclusive sedans and sports cars that were forbidden from sale in the US for many years until they became legally importable.

The participants of the rally arriving at Mazda's facility will be treated to an exclusive tour of Mazda's heritage collection, which a working garage that houses more than 50 race cars, concepts, historically significant and one-off cars.

"Our heritage cars aren't just museum pieces; they're meant to be driven. This is a rare chance to see all of these beautiful vintage cars where they were meant to be — on the road," said Mazda North American Operations senior VP Robert Davis.