Get your vintage Japanese fix at Mazda-sponsored Touge road rally

Mazda RX-7 will drive in the Touge road rally 2016

Touge California kicks off this weekend with rare machinery from the far east

Classic rallies are nothing new in California — if you drive on the Pacific Coast Highway during one of the 360 sunny days, you’re bound to run into a vintage tour sooner or later. But aside from the occasional Toyota 2000 GT, few of those cars are likely to be Japanese.

Mazda plans to do something about it: Along with Japanese Nostalgic Car the automaker will sponsor Touge California, the sole all-Japanese vintage road rally in the States.

The rally kicks off on April 2 and will feature 28 rare Japanese classics from the ’60s through the ’80s. 11 of those vintage cars will be Mazdas, with the automaker rolling out classics such as the 1975 Rotary-Engine Pickup (REPU), 1985 RX-7 GSL-SE and a 1978 GLC compact hatchback from its Heritage Collection.

“We’re proud to sponsor Touge California, as it fits perfectly with Mazda’s heritage and celebration of the innovations that continue to shape the auto industry into what it is today,” said Robert Davis, MNAO’s senior vice president, U.S. operations. “We’re a company that relishes driving enjoyment; we couldn’t emphasize that point more than to take some of our own vehicles and enjoy Touge California with those who love driving as much as we do.”

1974 Mazda Rotary Pickup REPU

The rally was founded in 2015 by Ben Hsu, editor-in-chief of Japanese Nostalgic Car, and Patrick Strong, with the intent of giving participants the opportunity to experience mountainous terrain in their Japanese classics without straying too far from home.

“As 70 percent of Japan’s terrain is mountainous, our goal with Touge California is to give owners of Japanese cars the experience of driving on roads similar to those on which their cars were born,” Hsu said.

The rally will cover 200 miles along California’s coastal roads, ending up at Mazda’s U.S. offices in Irvine.

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