Accompanying a seemingly ordinary press release of a Mazda corporate event to celebrate the first New Year shipment were photos of an RX-8 not so ordinary: a Convertible version.

Celebrating 2008's first shipment of Mazdas bound for international markets, this is a corporate event staged by the firm every New Year. But accompanying yesterday's seemingly ordinary press release were photos of an RX-8 not so ordinary: a Convertible version. Presumably re-built for the express purpose of corporate events and public parades in the vicinity of Hiroshima, this one-off RX-8 Convertible won't ever see the light of production, but it gives enthusiasts a good idea of what a current-generation RX-8 would like like al fresco.

Note that other than a hacked-off roof, the Convertible version loses its hard-top counterpart's 'suicide door' and gains a roll bar, which as seen in the photos appears to be more a handrail than a rollover safety feature.

Viewed by some 500 senior employees, the RX-8 Convertible was alongside the firm's Mazda2 and CX-7, with attendees later hearing from President and CEO, Hisakazu Imaki who had this to say:-

 “2008 will be an extremely important year for us. The automotive industry’s operating environment is tougher than ever, but we will confidently go forward this year, taking steady steps in our operations toward achieving our goals.

“To do so, we will emphasize three major issues: improving brand value, strengthening our business efficiency, and improving quality throughout the Mazda Group. Notably, this year Mazda will launch a number of exhilarating products here in Japan and overseas, including the all-new Mazda6. Leveraging these exciting products to come, we want to see this year made outstanding by a dramatic improvement in Mazda’s brand value.”

So there's no chance of an RX-8 drop-top - but with an upcoming model based on the Kabura concept and an RX-9 due before 2012, perhaps a further convertible option is headed our way.

Gallery: One-off Mazda RX-8 Convertible Shown at Corporate Event