The Mazda MX-81 made its debut 40 years ago at the 1981 Tokyo Motor Show proudly showcasing its futuristic, wedge-shaped coupe design by Marc Dechamps for the Turin-based coachbuilder Bertone. It would be the first of a long line of models to feature the iconic MX badge.

Nuccio Bertone

Bertone used the running gear of the Mazda 323 to build the Mazda MX-81 Aria concept car – a futuristic wedge-shaped hatchback. At the 1981 Tokyo Motor Show, the vehicle stood out from the others with its gold paint, enormous glasshouse, and pop-up lights. 

What truly set it apart though was its radical interior. It had a recessed square steering wheel, side swinging front seats, and TV screen cockpit. 

headlights of the MX-081

interior of the MX-081

The one-off concept definitely embodied the MX model ethos to defy convention, which led to the high-mounted taillights and pop-up headlamps that would be seen in future Mazda production cars in the eighties. 

Normally, after being exhibited, many prototypes and concepts are destroyed, but in 2019, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, the previous fourth-generation MX-5 program manager and rotary engine developer, discovered the MX-81 in a warehouse at Mazda’s Headquarters, based in Hiroshima.

Upon its discovery, the car was shipped to Mazda Italy, where they acquired the expertise of SuperStile in Turin to restore the vehicle precisely and painstakingly under the guidance of Flavio Gallizio. 

After the restoration was concluded, it was celebrated by recreating the original press images of the MX-81 in front of the Milan Cathedral. 

restoration of vehicle

restored MX-081

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By: Sports Car Digest
Title: The History of Mazda MX: From the MX-81 to the MX-30
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Published Date: Sat, 15 May 2021 07:07:23 +0000

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