Whatever happened to the Mazda Montrose

Over the course of time, car manufacturers have named many a car in honour of an illustrious or glamorous location. Ferrari Maranello, Ferrari Daytona, Porsche Cayenne, Opel Monza, Hyundai Santa Fe and Lancia Monte Carlo are just a few that spring to mind. In all cases, the manufacturer hopes to leave the owner in no doubt over the credentials of the car in question. Daytona, for example, takes you to the speedway, on a hot summer’s night, the sound of V8s and the smell of burning rubber. Stirring stuff you’ll agree. Then there’s Monte Carlo, which takes you to the French coast, twisty mountain-side tarmac roads, glitz, glamour and decadence. You get the point.

Now you may or may not be familiar with the Scottish town of Montrose. If not, let me enlighten you. Situated on the east coast, Montrose has a population of some 12,000 people, has the fifth biggest golf course in the world, can claim a three-mile long Blue Flag beach and has a rather wide high street. This is all according to Wikipedia anyway. All thrilling stuff, but just why is the town of Montrose relevant to PetrolBlog? Well, a fact not listed on Wikipedia and I fear totally unknown to the majority of the 12,000 residents is that Montrose has a car named in its honour.

I refer of course to the Mazda Montrose. You’ve probably forgotten about the Montrose and if you’re reading this from outside of UK shores, you’ve probably never heard of it. That’s because in the majority of markets, the Montrose was known as the 626, which went on to enjoy several incarnations before eventually simply becoming the Mazda 6.

Mazda Montrose Capella 626
Could so easily have been called the Barrow-in-Furness

But why the Montrose? Well, in their infinite wisdom, the official importers decided, after one too many Friday evening post-work beverages, that they’d name their car after their favourite UK dealer. No seriously, they did. Mazda weren’t happy to let the Cortina have the family car market all to itself and wanted a piece of the action. “OK Ford, so you’ve got yourself an Italian ski-resort, well we’re going to trump you Henry”.

The official story is that the dealer in Montrose was the clear winner, but I’m not so sure. I’m actually led to believe that Montrose was crucially some way down the list of favourites and the Mazda could have easily been known by a different name.

Topping the table and boardroom favourite was the dealer in Barrow-in-Furness, but the official badge maker at Mazda was concerned that the number of letters required for the back of each car could seriously reduce the margins on each car sold. So Barrow-in-Furness was reluctantly ruled out.

Second on the list was the Welsh dealer in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The problem here was less about the number of letters and more about the problems experienced by anyone phoning to request a brochure. So Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch was ruled out too.

Eventually, after a lot of soul searching and a few more jars of ale, the name Montrose was agreed. The car went on to become synonymous with being anonymous, but still managed to rack up nearly three quarters of million sales in the four years of production. When it was replaced in 1982, Mazda UK saw sense and brought the car into line with other markets, calling it the 626.

I leave you with this timeless ad for the 626, all the way from Australia. Just one look is, apparently, all it took. When a car’s key selling point is the reclining front seats, you know you’re scraping the proverbial barrel. Although in fairness, the passenger does look relaxed.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

20 comments

  1. June 27, 2011
    Robert Montrose

    Given that it shares its name with me and now that I have seen the ad this is clearly the best car in the world ever!

    Reply
    • June 27, 2011
      MajorGav

      If you want one, be quick. I’ve just checked howmanyleft? and there appears to be only four left on the road. Numbers seemed to fall off a cliff in the late ’90s…

      Reply
  2. October 28, 2011
    eric chase

    iam in the process of having a mazda montrose coupe being restored / resprayed , will be seen on the roads of southern england in 2012

    Reply
    • October 28, 2011
      MajorGav

      Excellent. Be good to get some pics and details of the restoration when it’s all done.

      Good luck.

      Reply
    • December 18, 2014
      George Ellis

      I have new and boxed windscreen and fuel tank for a Mazda Montrose GLS – FOR SALE

      GEORGE ELLIS 07768350984

      Reply
  3. October 29, 2011
    eric chase

    also have a 626 sdx coupe ( same as montrose but with a face lift ) resting in peace

    Reply
    • October 29, 2011
      MajorGav

      Blimey. You sound like a collector! Any plans for the SDX?

      Reply
      • November 29, 2011
        eric chase

        hi no., it will proberly rust in peace, some of parts could be used for montrose, but if anyone wants a restoration project please let me know ,

        Reply
      • November 29, 2011
        eric chase

        as being a collector, i also own a rare consul cortina mk1 estate dating from 1963 which i had restored ( being in same family since new )

        Reply
        • November 29, 2011
          MajorGav

          Ooh, any pictures/further details?!

          Reply
  4. November 1, 2011
    Monty

    As my car namesake I must admit to having a boot badge, alas from a scrapped car and a brand new Haynes manual. The manual was a couple of quid on Ebay, the badge was, errrr well free from a scrap yard a number of years back.

    I did have dreams a while ago of putting a rotary turbo engine and some other careful mods to a Montrose but have never done it, and with 4 left doubt I ever will.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2011
      MajorGav

      Shame!

      But I love the Haynes manual and boot badge reference. A nice touch!

      Reply
  5. May 31, 2012
    Ian Collins

    I have just bought a 1979 Montrose GLS coupe (2 litre). It has had i owner from new and was originally sold by McMeekin and Newby Mazda dealership in Dalton in Furness (not Barrow as has been stated). Believe it or not after standing for over 10 years in a heated garage it only needs 2 tyres, 1 wiper blade and the rear brake cylinders freeing to pass MOT. Has retest in a couple of days and I believe (according to howmanyleft.com) it will then be the ONLY Montrose coupe on the road in the UK!! Let me know if you know different. It has a full lenth (webasto style) fold back sunroof with vinyl roof, electric door mirror boot opener and headlight washers also all work! Any info, on owners. clubs or spares would be appreciated. Oh and it is that really gawdy light green colour. Wonderfully seventies, takes me back to my youth!
    Regards Ian

    Reply
    • May 31, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Wow! What a find!

      I’m going to send you an email. Thanks for getting in touch.

      Reply
    • March 10, 2014
      Kev

      I also have a montrose coupe chrome bumper marine blue 1981 mx5 engine modified been on road 7 months now bought of eBay unseen but a good un

      Reply
  6. July 10, 2012
    Ian Collins

    I haven’t heard anything yet regarding clubs or other coupe’s. Just put car on e-bay and it is causing a bit of a stir, but no bids as yet. Cheers IanI

    Reply
  7. January 31, 2013
    BrettMRC

    In response to Monty above – I have one of the remaining 4… and it’s got a turbo rotary under the bonnet 🙂
    http://www.mazdarotaryclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=77264

    Reply
  8. July 30, 2013
    Steve Newby

    Glad to hear early Mazda’s have some fans. My dad was the Newby sise of Mcmeekin and Newby 🙂

    Reply
  9. December 19, 2014
    GEORGE ELLIS

    I have a new and boxed windscreen and fuel tank for a Mazda Montrose GLS – FOR SALE

    GEORGE ELLIS 07768350984

    Reply
  10. May 30, 2015
    Graham Clayton

    The Youtube clip features a LHD American Mazda 626.

    Reply

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