For all of its famous engines, Japan has not been one to dabble much with the V12. In fact, there’s been just a sole production car fitted with one - the Toyota Century. Things could’ve been oh so different, though, if this Mazda project saw the light of day.
Sitting rather subdued in the Mazda Museum, located at the brand’s Hiroshima headquarters, is the sole V12 it built. Developed during the 1980s through to 1992, the 4.0-litre engine was built using two V6 engines - and said to be designed for the ‘best car in the world’.
That car was to be the Amati 1000.
It’s worth remembering this was in the midst of Japan’s bubble era, a time when manufacturers had wads of cash to throw around - leading to some of the greats we know today.
As part of that, Mazda wanted a slice of the luxury pie. Amati Cars was aimed squarely at taking on Lexus and Acura in America and sitting above Mazda’s own Eunos and Efini sub-brands. With that, the 1000 was to be its flagship model - a huge saloon car challenging the BMW 7 Series of the time.
Amati as a brand would never see the light of day, along with the V12. Very little else is known about the canned 1000. No official images exist, no prototypes are known to remain and reportedly only a few Mazda employees of the era have seen the car in the flesh.
Australian magazine Wheels published exclusive leaked images of the car in 1993, though with very little in the way of concrete details. It speculated the 4.0-litre V12 would produce 348bhp outside of Japan - with the home market limited to 276bhp as part of the wider gentleman’s agreement between manufacturers.
Mazda does say the ‘spirit’ of the engine’s design lived on with a unique Miller cycler V6 engine though, as well as the crazy 20B three-rotor engine found in the Eunos Cosmo.