Bringing alive the illustrious history of an unconventional carmaker from Hiroshima, the first Mazda museum in Europe – and indeed the only one outside Japan – opened on the 13th May in Augsburg, Germany.

Mazda Classic – Automobil Museum Frey, a project led by local Mazda dealer Auto Frey with the support of Mazda Germany, spotlights Mazda’s almost 100 years of defying convention. The centrepiece is an exhibit of 45 vehicles, which includes classic Mazdas officially sold in Europe as well as exceptionally rare models only available in other parts of the globe.

Models currently on display include a 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport, a 1969 Mazda Luce R130 and several generations of RX-7, plus with rarities like a rotary Parkway bus and even a rotary pick-up truck, Mazda’s rotary history features heavily.

However, the sheer breadth and variety of models on display demonstrates how Mazda has been combining innovative technology with stunning designs in the name of driving joy for nearly 100 years. Other highlights include a 1960 Mazda R360, the company’s first mass-produced passenger car, a 1962 Mazda K360 three-wheeled light truck, a 1966 Mazda Familia 1000 coupé, a 1976 Mazda 616 and the Mazda AZ-1, a distinctive mid-engined lightweight sports car from 1992.

Created from the personal passion of the owners of local Mazda dealer group Auto Frey, the museum is located in a stunningly refurbished tram depot dating from 1897. Located in the centre of the Bavarian town of Augsburg it is also equipped with an expansive event area, restaurant facilities and a gift shop.

Amazingly the 45 cars on display in the museum represent just a small proportion of the personal collection of the Frey family.

Mazda dealers since the late 70s, Walter Frey and his sons Markus and Joachim have personally restored many of the cars in the collection and travelled the world in search of rare classic Mazdas.

“Uniquely impressive, the first Mazda museum outside Japan represents a dream come true for the Frey family to share with the public its one-of-a-kind collection of vintage Mazdas from around the world,” commented Mazda Motor Corporation Executive Vice President Akira Marumoto. “Everyone at Mazda headquarters is very proud that the Freys are a part of our organisation and have created something so extraordinary.”

The selection will change continually, too, with additional gems from the Frey’s collection of 120-plus vehicles destined for rotation into the exhibit. Operators also hope the venue will become a hub for vintage Mazda club meetings and classic car events in general. Auto Frey has been a Mazda dealer since 1978 and currently operates three locations in the Augsburg area.