R360 restoration project: high school students discover the Mazda DNA
Mazda’s ‘restoration project’ invites the next generation to take part in restoring an old car, so that they can witness Mazda’s philosophy at work. Last summer, 14 local students from the automotive clubs of Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Technical High School and Hiroshima Municipal Technical High School teamed up with the restoration project staff to overhaul the R360, Mazda’s first passenger car.
They divided into five groups. The first group was in charge of restoring the gear shifter. They took it apart, cleaned it thoroughly, then based on what they saw of its structure wrote up a maintenance report. Thanks to the students’ clear and concise document, the project staff were able to reconstruct the shifter at a later date.
The second group set about lapping the engine valve, a key process in maintaining its performance. The students conducted the work with great care, checking the air-tight seal.
The task of polishing the painted surfaces fell to the third group. As the car had been stored indoors its exterior was in relatively good condition, so the team only needed to apply polish. However, on areas such as the engine compartment and the boot that had collected a lot of dirt, they used a brush to give them a thorough clean. The students were able to notice that surfaces that are usually not visible had become bumpy and required extra attention.
The fourth group was in charge of removing the paint off the engine cover, along with the dirt ingrained within the engine. The students learned that the engine back in the day was air-cooled and the heat off the engine was used to heat the car, so the engine cover acted as a baffle plate to draw the heat into the cabin.
Finally, the fifth group cleaned the transmission and gear parts. The students learned that in the past, transmissions had the same gear whether they were MT or AT. They had a go at manipulating the internal structure by hand so that they could see the gear changes at work.
‘Learning about the history and seeing the actual workplace made me realise that to be a professional I have to start by changing my mindset,’ says Koshiro Motomichi, one of the students from Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Technical High School. ‘It was a great opportunity to learn how professionals think and how they set their goals.’
Thinking about the future
On the previous day, the students were invited to attend a lecture about the history of car manufacturing and the restoration process, and to tour the plant and the museum. The lecture introduced the ‘Mazda DNA’ that runs through Mazda cars through generations, while the tour involved a comparison between a replica of the Fuchu plant, from which Mazda’s factory production began, and the current Ujina plant, so that the students could see how car production developed. They were particularly surprised to learn when they visited the body assembly line that several models are put together on the same line as part of the ‘mixed production system’.