Mazda History: Mazda started as a machine tool business called the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company in 1920 and they started making cars in 1931. The company stopped production during World War II to produce weapons for Japan. They built their first Mazda in 1931 and by 1960 they were an established automaker. They entered the American market ten years later. Mazda gained notoriety when their revolutionary Wankel rotary engine outperformed the piston competitors. Toyo Cork Kogyo didn't officially adopt the Mazda marquee until 1984 and in 1996 the Ford Motor Company became the majority stock holder and took control. Ford based several of its models, like the Probe, Escort, Mercury Tracer and Escape on Mazda designs, which led the way for Ford to sell vehicles in Asia, Australia and Japan.