Mazda’s MX badge has existed for the last 40 years, appearing on everything from concept cars to production coupes and cross-overs, to full-on Le Mans prototype racers. Alongside the release of the Japanese auto brand’s new all-electric MX-30 SUV, Mazda has also unveiled a factory-backed, spare-no-expense, ground-up restoration of the first car to bare MX badging, the MX-81 Aria concept.
Originally revealed at the 1981 Tokyo Motor Show, the unapologetically-1980s, wedge-shaped concept car was built around the running gear from Mazda’s 323 and was penned by Marc Dechamps of legendary Italian coachbuilder Bertone. After doing its early ‘80s press tour, the MX-81 Aria was warehoused, only to be uncovered by Nobuhiro Yamamoto – the former fourth-gen MX-5 program manager and rotary engine developer – at Mazda’s Hiroshima headquarters in 2019. From there the MX-81 was shipped back to SuperStile in Turin, where it was returned to its former glory under the expert eye of Flavio Gallizio. After a ridiculously extensive restoration, the 1981 MX-81 Aria was photographed outside the famous Milan Cathedral upon its completion. To learn more about this historic Japanese-Italian project, you can check out the full press release linked below.
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