Honda launched Acura in 1986, and Lexus and Infiniti debuted three years later. But Mazda's attempt at an upscale brand never got off the ground.
On Oct. 21, 1992, Mazda pulled the plug on Amati 14 months after it had been announced and just 18 months before the new line was scheduled to go on sale.
The 25th anniversary of that occasion did not pass unnoticed. Twenty members of the Amati management team, including General Manager Dick Colliver, attended a reunion at the Orange County, Calif., home of Frank Beniche, who led dealer development.
Colliver recalls the demise of Amati as "the saddest day of my career."
He had been at Mazda for 20 years and began work on the project in 1989. But he saw the writing on the wall. Mazda kept cutting his budget. Colliver decided to scuttle Amati because he felt it would not have the resources to succeed.
"We ran out of money," he said. "I had to basically fire 50 people."