First-generation RX-7s aren’t as common in self-service wrecking yards as they were five years ago, but it’s not hard to find a couple in a typical large yard in the Los Angeles or San Francisco areas. Most of the time I don’t photograph these cars, but we’ve seen this ’79, this ’79, this ’80, and this ’85 so far in this series, and now we’ve got today’s beat-looking but low-mile ’83 from Northern California. (Read More…)
What you’re seeing above isn’t the rendered visage of the next Mazda rotary sports car, but the leaked fascia of the new CX-5 crossover. Better get used to it.
Plans for a ressurected rotary engine appear to have hit a snag with Mazda CEO Masa-michi Kogai claiming that the required volumes for commercial viability are unrealistic.
First-gen Mazda RX-7s aren’t difficult to find in self-service wrecking yards (we just saw this ’80 with Flashdance-grade custom paint and this fairly solid ’85), and so most of them don’t make it into this series. During my recent trip to California for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, I stopped at one of my favorite East Bay wrecking yards and found this utterly rust-free example of one of the few bright spots of the Malaise Era. (Read More…)
The rotary engine and Mazda have had a tumultuus, on-and-off relationship that rivals an Old Hollywood marriage. Market conditions and government regulations have made mass production of the rotary a constant challenge, and the death of the Mazda RX-8 looked like the final nail in the Wankel’s coffin.
Mazda is set to build the final RX-8, bringing a temporary end to the rotary engine, which powered its flagship sports cars for 45 years.
A report in the Nikkei claims that Mazda’s rotary engine will live on as a range extender for electric vehicles using hydrogen power for the Wankel engine.
Mazda is saying “peace out” to their V6 engines. The party line is that they don’t really fit with the companies new philosophy, and the SkyACTIV portfolio. Instead, the company is drumming up a few alternatives.
The Wankel rotary engine returns to its native land at last. Since the NSU Ro 80 went out of production in 1977, Mazda has been the keeper of the flame. But Audi has announced that it will show an A1 e-tron concept at the Geneva show this week, and the pug-in will feature a single-rotor Wankel range extender (gen set). Rotaries and micro-turbines have often been suggested as the ultimate range extenders due to their compact size and low weight. (Read More…)
The Pacer is the poster child of how questionable ideas and good intentions go awry. In 1971, scrappy little AMC was faced with a dilemma: how to capture buyers looking to downsize, when they were incapable of actually building a truly downsized car. Yup; there was no way AMC could tool up to build a genuine compact car, like the Vega and Pinto. So the solution was to stop pretending, like the execrable Gremlin that preceded the Pacer. The answer was to build the world’s first wide-body compact, a segment nobody had ever identified before, much less pined for. To add to its zestiness, break all the styling molds with acres of glass and asymmetrical doors. And then just for good measure, stick a rotary engine in it. As we’ve seen repeatedly, desperation is the mother of (bizarre) inventions. (Read More…)
Zing! That word encapsulates the RX-7. The only vocabulary the little coffee-can rotary had was zing! (snick) zing! (snick) and zing again! Sooner rather than later, it zinged you for a couple of Gs when its rotor seals gave up the zing! But that didn’t come as a surprise, and it never zinged you for anything else. That is, unless you got a little too frisky in certain corners, and the live rear axle might toss you a nasty little over-zing. As long as you could live on a torque-free diet, the RX-7 was one of the best friends an enthusiast driver could hope for in its day. And there are still loyal devotees of Zing-Buddhism today. (Read More…)