It’s fairly well known in Oceania and parts of southeast Asia that Mazda and Ford had a partnership in the 1980s which allowed the latter company to sell rebadged versions of the former’s cars in certain overseas markets.

This partnership even extended to allow Ford a certain amount of creative control over the design and styling of certain shared models, the most obvious being the mid-1980s Laser hatchback (BF chassis).

What isn’t well known is that Ford also marketed and sold these models in Japan through their own dealership chain called Autorama. These were genuine Japanese-built cars that came off the same assembly line as their Mazda equivalents, conformed to all the emissions and size standards of the era, and had many options and engine choices that were unavailable in export markets like Australia.

Partly owing to Ford’s foreign heritage, Autorama didn’t shift a massive number of cars in Japan during the 1980s, but the Laser became a fairly successful seller as it was based on Mazda’s Familia small passenger car (which was a very popular model by its own merit).

Autorama continued to market and sell Ford-badged Mazdas (as well as American Fords, such as the Mustang) well into the 1990s before quietly folding into Ford’s own global dealership network.

Recently I commissioned some replica Ford Autorama dealership decals through Doozi for my Japanese Laser restoration projects. These were designed from scratch using reference material and old photographs from my collection and are 99.9% accurate, so I’m very happy with the end result.

Sometimes it’s the little details that make all the difference.

To finish up, here is a brief commercial from the late 1980s showcasing the Autorama Ford Festiva.