Photo/IllutrationThe Type GA three-wheel truck was nicknamed the Green Panel. (Kohei Kondo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

FUCHU, Hiroshima Prefecture--Mazda Motor Corp. is rebuilding a three-wheel truck model that carried supplies and people through the carnage of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.

The project to restore the Type GA, which was released 80 years ago, is intended to mark the 100th anniversary of the automaker’s founding next year.

Production of the vehicle started in 1938, as Japan was gearing up for warfare.

With a dashboard painted green to reflect youth, peace and safety, the Type GA was also known as the Green Panel.

Mazda resumed production of the Type GA four months after the atomic bomb reduced vast areas of Hiroshima to rubble on Aug. 6, 1945.

The trucks carried goods and people around the devastated region and are said to have encouraged the survivors.

Mazda had produced 17,000 units by around 1949.

Nine employees of the automaker in June this year started restoring an inoperable Type GA kept at the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima. The vehicle has been dismantled, and its parts are being mended for reassembly.

The workers plan to fully restore the Type GA to its original glory by March.

“The Green Panel was developed out of various feelings not limited to manufacturing,” said Hidetatsu Shimono, an official of Mazda’s vehicle development department who is involved in the rebuilding project. “I also want to thoroughly think about such fundamental elements.”

Mazda in August invited 11 high school students from Hiroshima Prefecture to its mainstay plant in Fuchu to provide a better understanding of the manufacturing industry and how the automaker operates.

The students filed engine components and removed rust from the body frame and bed of the Green Panel being restored.

“Automobiles today use advanced computer and mechanical technologies, but the model showed me how sophisticated it (manufacturing) was in the past,” said Yuki Itohara, 16, a first-year student at the automobile department of Hiroshima Municipal Technical High School. “I definitely want to see it running again.”

Mazda in fiscal 2015 started a project to reproduce a landmark model every year ahead of its centenary.

So far the automaker has reproduced the Cosmo Sports, the world’s first mass-produced vehicle with a rotary engine that was released in 1967, the R360 Coupe, Mazda’s first passenger car marketed in 1960, the high-end Luce Rotary Coupe model that was put on sale in 1969, and the fifth-generation Familia, whose sales started in 1980.