Customized 40th Anniversary 2010 Mazdaspeed3 - Click above for high-res image gallery

For SEMA 2009, Mazda introduced us to a pair of the happiest Mazda3 derivatives we've ever seen. Part Le Mans-winning 787B tribute, part rolling showcase (for their Mazda accessories catalog) and part 40th anniversary present to itself, this couple with their odd, knowing smiles was pretty easy on the eyes.

Built by Mazda R&D employees to show off the wide range of accessories available for the 2010 Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3, these tuner cars also serve as tributes to Mazda's motorsports prowess and to 40 years of Mazda sales in the U.S. The cars are painted in a Crystal White Pearl with gray graphics that mimics the Mazda3 World Challenge race car, which itself apes the look of the Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B from 1991. There are also plenty of other changes in the mix to make these special 3s go like they show.

Both cars get forged aluminum 19x8-inch wheels with 225/40 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires stripped off the RX-8 R3, and KW coil-overs to button things down a bit, but that's about where the similarities end. The 2.5-liter engine in the Mazda3 sedan gets a thorough makeover by World Challenge-contending Tri-Point Engineering. With their Garrett GT2871R ball bearing turbo kit adding 10 psi of boost, the 2.5-liter MZR engine is now making more than 250 HP at the wheels.

The Mazdaspeed3 was already turbocharged but an AEM cold-air intake was added to increase its output by about 20 HP. Like the special Mazda3, this car gets KW coil-overs and the RX-8 R3 wheel/tire combo, but whereas the 3 got brakes from the Speed3 and Mazda5, this car gets four-piston StopTech calipers and floating two-piece rotors that are nearly identical to the ones used on the World Challenge car. We really like this sexy duo from Mazda and think we now know why they're smiling.

Live photos copyright ©2009 Frank Filipponio/Weblogs, Inc.

Press Release

LAS VEGAS - With the launch of the all-new 2010 MAZDA3 and MAZDASPEED3, a small team of designers and engineers at Mazda R&D in Irvine, Calif., decided to celebrate with a pair of special projects, debuting for the first time at the 2009 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

Figuring out how to commemorate the completion of the MAZDA3 was easy. Mazda's line of exciting, fun-to-drive cars are born from the passion of the people who design them, so starting with a MAZDASPEED3 and a 2.5-liter MAZDA3s the team took its knowledge of the Mazda parts bin and its close relationships with MAZDASPEED Motorsports suppliers, looked in the mirror, and decided to build a pair of tuner cars that show its own vision of the MAZDA3.

Both cars are painted to mimic the new MAZDA3 World Challenge race car, but in a more subdued Crystal White Pearl base coat with soft gray tone graphics. The scheme is a modern twist on the famous Renown graphics used on the Mazda 787B that won Le Mans in 1991.

Exterior details, including grille inserts, side mirrors, fog lamp bezels, the roof panel, and the formerly chrome interior of the front lamps are all given a bright black paint treatment. Combined with tinted windows, and dark red taillight lenses, the dark details tighten the car visually, emphasizing the MAZDA3's taught, muscular shape much like a tailored black suit on an athlete.

Both cars roll on 19x8-inch wheels with 225/40-19 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires straight off the RX-8 R3. The wheels are forged aluminum, giving them strength with exceptional light weight.

The sedan was sent to Tri-Point Engineering for a boost in power. Between World Challenge races, Tri-Point installed their turbo kit, utilizing a rugged cast iron turbo manifold feeding a high-efficiency Garrett GT2871R ball bearing turbo. At a mild 10 psi of boost, the 2.5-liter MZR engine is making well over 250 horsepower at the wheels (final tuning is still being finished).

To handle this extra power, the front brakes were replaced with rotors and calipers from a MAZDASPEED3, while the rear rotors and calipers were sourced from a MAZDA5. Double-adjustable coil-overs from KW Suspension, paired with a Tri-Point adjustable rear stabilizer bar bring the handling back into harmony with the engine's higher output.

The MAZDASPEED3, already capable of 155 mph, was already nearly fast enough. An AEM cold-air intake bumps output about 20 horsepower, but otherwise, the powertrain remains untouched. Suspension is again KW coil-overs, but this time with modified top mounts on the front struts to increase camber and provide additional cornering grip. Four-piston Stoptech calipers and floating two-piece rotors nearly identical to those on the World Challenge car are used, since the car's original brakes were transplanted to the 4-Door.

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in the United States in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

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