I always admire people who are driven and passionate about something to an extent that it somehow becomes one with their lives.
That’s how inventors or collectors operate, how brilliant things are born. In a way that’s how I imagine starting point of Frey’s Mazda collection.
It was born out of engineering passion and fascination.
It turns out that Walter Frey picked the Mazda brand for his dealership because he fell in love with an unorthodox approach to burning petrol and turning it into power, namely with rotary engine.
Mazda has been refining Wankel’s invention for decades and it was quite an obvious choice for Frey as it seems.
Looking at the collection, allegedly biggest in Europe, Frey family became one of the most significant, if not the biggest, fans of line of rotary-powered Mazdas in the world.
One thing that you cannot deny – over time Freys were very diligent in adding new specimens to their set.
It started with Mazda Cosmo Sport picked up in States somewhere in the ’80s.
On the side note – I was quite impressed by Freys owning this Cosmo until I saw another one… kept in sort of storage room in Louwman Museum… but then again if you own several Bugattis, Talbot Lago’s, Voisins and a D-Type which won the Le Mans on top, you probably can treat first rotary car ever produced in Japan like something common.
Over the time, various R/RX Mazdas found new home and eventually were put on display in old tram depot in Augsburg.
There are some real gems, which even Mazda Museum in Japan could be jealous of, like RX-7 that was handed over to Felix Wankel as a token of appreciation by Mazda itself and that somehow Frey tracked and bought back (along with a bench that Felix used to sit on and dream up new piston shapes).
Or what is the only working Parkway Rotary bus in the world (it even is registered and roadworthy).
Or rotary tow truck.
Or Roadpacer (originally Holden Premier powered by V8), probably the only car in the world that Mazda should’t put rotary engine to.
Not that Freys were just focusing on the rotary branch of Mazda family.
Beside Wankel-powered cars you can find a large set of regular models, so 323’s, 626’s, 929’s, their predecessors, often in more unique variants (like 323 cabrio or 929 coupe).
Again, there are cars, which Mazda could have in their own museum – like first 323, signed by Mazda employees.
Of course Freys didn’t stop there, and their collection would’t be complete without a set of cars that seem to be foundation of every Japanese car maker – kei-cars and 3 wheelers.
They are small, adorable, with clever solutions and in plenty here.
Finally, there are of course treats for Miata lovers on the old depot floor.
Starting with one of first production NA – rust-free, beautiful and completely factory-standard mariner.
Next in line is notoriously hard to find factory-made NB coupe, which Mazda has done only in small batch – between 500 and 1000 is believed to be made, all RHD.
The one on display is what Mazda called Type A, which probably explains loads of plastic add-ons on what is quite regular car mechanically.
Finally, NC’s are represented by something even more extraordinary: a Superlight concept.
Based on regular NC facelift, with chopped off windscreen and ditched roof, gutted interior and brown leather, carbon fiber & aluminum details inside makes quite an impression.
All bits that ended up in trash bin along with their lightweight replacements sum up to weight savings of over 130kg.
The only thing that leaves me puzzled is why Mazda took 1.8 engined chassis as a base.
If you are a true Mazda fan, I cannot recommend more visiting this exhibition.
It’s probably the best place to see unique M-badged vehicles in Europe, maybe even in the whole world.
It’s also a proof that, if you’re lucky, local manufacturer representatives can do marketing activities that are far beyond renting advertising spaces.