The car was to be the Mazda 1500, although it had already appeared in
the form of a concept car at the 1963 All Japan Motor Show. In fact,
development of the 1500 had begun even before the 800, and it was
already close to being complete when displayed as a concept car.
the beginning, Mazda had hired the famous Italian design house,
Carrozzeria Bertone, to create the 1500's appearance. The chief designer
was a young Giorgio Giugiaro, who would later go on to design the
iconic Volkswagen Golf. Mazda needed the design of the 1500 to clearly
differentiate it as being a class above the 800 sedan. The reworked
design model that was sent from Italy to Hiroshima was so low that it
appeared to be crawling along the ground, and the skilful use of
sweeping surfaces gave it the appearance of a spaceship.
was a collective gasp when Mazda's fresh-faced young designers first saw
it. It would be up to these designers to develop the model for mass
production. Through extensive contact with Bertone, the inexperienced
Mazda designers were able to develop their design techniques. Building
on the sweeping surfaces, they found a balance of straight lines and
curves, creating a style that was simple, yet refined and graceful. With
its elegant European styling and thin pillars that gave a wide
field-of-view and a light-filled cabin, the 1500 appeared exceptionally
modern, and stood out from the standard, boxy cars being produced in
Japan at that time.
The graceful flair of the exterior design
was carefully reflected in the interior. Every available surface on the
interior was covered with trim, including fine leather on the dashboard
and door panels. A wood grained panel stretched across the cabin and
provided a sense of calm amid the other gorgeous materials. A deep,
padded hood was fitted around the panel and to house the meters and
switches, and provide added safety. High quality leather was also used
to upholster the seats. Their appearance and soft feel perfectly
matched the colour and chic atmosphere of the rest of the interior.
1500 went on sale in 1966,and was marketed as a 'six person saloon' to
express how it surpassed common sedans and more closely resembled a
luxurious 1960s British saloon.