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

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2017

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.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Mazda MP3 Was the Only Car Named After a Music File - Autotrader