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The Mazda MP3 Was the Only Car Named After a Music File

Today, I am going to teach you about the Mazda MP3. I feel this is necessary because here at Oversteer we occasionally focus on the weird cars — and what’s weirder than a limited-production Mazda named after a music file?

Yes, Mazda once named a car after the “MP3” music file. The year was 2001, and the car was a special edition version of the Protege, offered in just two colors: Laser Blue (with 1,000 units made) and Vivid Yellow (with 500 units made). My mother purchased a Tribute new in 2003, and I still remember seeing the MP3 in the sales brochures at the Mazda dealer. At the time, I thought it was cool. The dealer probably thought a bit differently.

So why do you name a car after a music file? Because it’s got a rockin’ sound system, of course. The MP3 had a 450-watt Kenwood stereo (MP3-capable, of course — which was a big deal at the time, but no so big that you had to go naming your car after it), along with a 10-inch subwoofer. Since it was designed to appeal to younger people, the MP3 also had slightly more horsepower (140 instead of the standard Protege’s 130, mated to a mandatory 5-speed manual transmission) along with 17-inch wheels, performance tires and a rather attractive body kit. Like I said, I thought it was cool.

Apparently, the stereo thing didn’t really sway people, but the idea of a sportier Protege did, so Mazda followed up on it: In 2003, they released the MazdaSpeed Protege with slightly more exterior upgrades than the MP3 — and more power, as it had a turbocharged engine with 170 horsepower rather than a mere 140. Once again, it was only sold with a 5-speed manual.

The MP3’s short production run and low volume ensured it’s not an especially common car; today, there are just 11 different 2001 Mazda Protege models on Autotrader, none of which are the MP3. But I suspect there are still a few of them out there, driving along, 10-inch subwoofer blastin’ some nice MP3s. Find a 2001 Mazda Protege for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. Yup… I have the MSP `03.  Very fast for a family sedan 0-60 5.9 sec after some minor tweaks.  I still have the Kenwood & 8″ Sub (sitting in my garage), but upgraded the sound system to 400W/Ch. Hifonics Zues with Polk DBX and Pioneer 10″ sub.  250k miles and still starts and runs like a top!

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