2020 may have gotten off to perhaps the worst start of any year in living memory, but despite packing its schedule as chock full of awful events as it could, there's still room for one or two positive dates in the diary. Milestones like the one we passed on January 30th, when one of motoring's greatest marques celebrated its centenary.
Yes, it has now been over 100 years since Jujiro Matsuda, who had travelled to Osaka to become an apprentice blacksmith, returned to his hometown of Hiroshima and opened his own foundry. The following 40 years were spent not in the production of cars, but first machinery and, eventually, trucks. In 1960, however, everything changed, with the debut of his first production car: the Mazda R360.
To mark such a momentous anniversary, Mazda has done what it does best, and launched a special-edition MX-5 - what else? Originally intended to be shown at last month's abandoned Geneva show, the car in question - creatively dubbed the '100th Anniversary Special Edition' - takes its cues from that R360, with several features paying homage to its design.
Foremost amongst these are Snowflake White Pearlescent paint, a contrasting burgundy interior and a Dark Cherry fabric roof. A unique 100th Anniversary badge has also been created; an amalgamation of the current Mazda logo and that of Matsuda's original Toyo Kogyo company, the design of which was said to reflect its founder's desire to contribute to the world through engineering and determination to constantly strive forwards. It can be found throughout the car, most notably embossed into the headrests, stamped on the centre caps of the wheels and printed on the key fob.
The 100th Anniversary Special Edition doesn't end with the MX-5, however. In Japan it's set to extend right through the range to include the Mazda 2, 3, 6, CX-3, CX-30, CX-5, CX-8, MX-5 and MX-5 RF. Closer to home, meanwhile, buyers will only get a shot at 100 examples each of the MX-5 (RF not included), CX-30 and 3, all of which are set to go on sale later this year. A decision on whether or not to bring Anniversary editions of the Mazda 6 and CX-5 to UK shores will be made at a later date.
UK pricing and specification is also left for another time, although we wouldn't bet against the cars being reasonably well equipped. Commenting on the 100th Anniversary Special Editions, Mazda UK Managing Director, Jeremy Thomson, said: "Mazda Corporation has created these special models as a token of appreciation for the customers who have supported Mazda through the years ... UK buyers have always loved special edition MX-5s so I'm sure that with its distinctive cherry roof and burgundy interior, the 100th Anniversary Special Edition Convertible will be very popular, while the first opportunity to have distinctive limited-edition versions of our latest cars: the Mazda3 and Mazda CX-30 is equally exciting."