Re: Mike

Posted by Leeedy on 2021/10/6 20:52:21

Ozstatman wrote:

Leeedy wrote:....By the way, I see a 1990 Miata listed in the stable. A lot of my ideas went into that car and I wrote much of the original manual books for it, including the Owner's Manual. Saved tons of little souvenirs from development....

Do you by any chance know, or know of, Dave Fewchuck from Australia? Dave was at High School with me in the early '60's and drove an Austin A30 with a padded gas cap! While I drove a '28 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan. I believe Dave was Project Manager, or some such similar title, for Ford of Australia in the development of the Ford Capri convertible

Just wondering if you knew if there was any crossover from/between the Capri to the Miata?


Sorry I missed this posting. At the risk of being chastised for taking the thread askew as has happened on this site in the past, I will respond here because the question was asked.

I don't know if the characterization someone listed as "partnership" is precisely accurate one since Ford had a substantial investment (part ownership) in Mazda. The percentage of this ownership varied over time, but at one point, FoMoCo increased their share to the point that they could actually direct things at Mazda –and so they did for a while.

I knew many from Ford of Australia. And yes, I even made a couple of suggestions for the Capri. My good friend the late Herb Grasse (Batmobile, Bricklin, Dodge Challenger, Ford Probe) was overseeing styling there for some time. We hung out on occasion in Hiroshima. And frankly I wrote much of the manuals used for Ford of Australia. This is unknown and uncredited but it is a fact. I did so in the USA and in Hiroshima, Japan where both Herb and I spent considerable time.

Of course, long after Miata was a reality and was going into a second-gen, the original fellow who was the spark plug behind the whole idea (Bob Hall) left Mazda and moved to Australia. I believe he was there for a few years with an Australian automotive magazine before eventually returning to the USA.

During one of the 6-month periods I lived in Hiroshima I was also asked to oversee new model service training for Australians. This might bring a chuckle.

If you know anything about FOA vehicles of the 1980s, you will know they sold Mazda-based lines. There was the Telstar (based on Mazda 626), the Laser (based on Mazda 323) and others. Both of these lines were very much the same basic cars with the nose and rear facia/tail lights altered and trim differences.

Now. The Japanese who ran the training center in Hiroshima were wonderful–quite proficient– with colloquial North American and British Queen's English. But when it came to the Aussies, the poor fellows were sometimes lost. One day two Japanese trainers came running into my office saying "Leon-san,Leon-san!" (actually they pronounced it more like "rayon"). They wanted to know... "What is rizah? What does this mean in English?" Puzzled, I ended up going downstairs with them to a classroom that was populated completely by FOA service division Aussies. I had lived with Australians during my service in Vietnam so I figured whatever was going on, I could certainly resolve it!

When I asked the Australians, they said "Heyyy mate, these blokes don't get what we're saying!" I asked what was being discussed and they responded, "We're training on the ly-zah." Ly-zah... All of a sudden the clouds lifted. The Australians were saying "Laser" as they pronounced the word, but it came out sounding "ly-zah"... which completely baffled the Japanese trainers who were imagining heaven know what. And things got worse when they morphed "ly-zah" into "rizah." I explained what was going on to the Japanese and to the Australians. Everyone ended up smiling and happy. But the Japanese decided to add another hat to my ever-expanding list of responsibilities! The upshot of my intervention is that I was placed in charge of training the Australians –as my hosts termed me as a "native speaker of English." Furthermore, among my new responsibilities, I was to accompany the Aussies out on the town to dinner at a British-themed restaurant in the Nagarakawa cabaret district. I believe the place was called "King Henry VIII"... but that's quite another story I won't go into here (use your imagination).

Anyway, I got to know many Australians in both Hiroshima and elsewhere with FOA. It is a good possibility that I at least met your friend, but that was a long time ago and so many names and stoichiometric ratios, welding formulas, aspect ratios, convertible top mechanisms and other things dancing in my head –along with Packards and Creative Industries, alas, I have forgotten many names from those days. But I do still carry window-pane money around in my wallet. I presume you easily know what this is.

Finally, I can comment here to the person "bkazmer" who said Miata was "designed in Japan"... Ohhhhhhhh reallllly????? Let's not say that too loudly. And when I think of a "backbone frame" I think of Lotus. Miata, despite the facia similarity is no "backbone frame" as Lotus. As someone who was there, I can assure you, Miata was designed at Mazda (North America) where I worked in Irvine, California. It was refined in Japan... but designed in the USA. One of my good friends, Mark Jordan (son of GM's Chuck Jordan), was one of the un-credited designers. I was there when we sent the model off to Japan. I was there when we got the early prototype back. I did some of the early test driving. And I wrote a lot of what were the manuals (Owner's Manual, Workshop Manual, Convertible Top Manual, and more). I also walked the first few Miatas down the assembly line in Hiroshima and I was the only development person who had actually worked for Ford (at Dearborn Assembly on the original Mustang).

As for the Capri... while both Capri and Miata shared some elements of Mazda 323, the Mercury FWD Capri and RWD Miata were just two different approaches (funny story here too about our test-driving teams bumping into one another in a remote part of California... I was there too...but again, that's for another time and place).

By the way... I kept a picture of a Packard Caribbean tacked up in my work area in Japan. It was a source of amazement to the folks there and when any of them came to visit in the USA, of course they asked. And I often took them to my warehouse to look at my Packards!

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