Rare Rides: The Gran Turismo Dream - a 1990 Mazda Eunos Cosmo

rare rides the gran turismo dream a 1990 mazda eunos cosmo

Today’s Rare Ride is a sporting luxury coupe with a complex rotary engine. It’s a car which was destined for America, but never quite made it.

It is, of course, the Eunos Cosmo. By Mazda.

The Cosmo name was a historical one for the Mazda brand. In 1967, the Cosmo was presented as a luxurious rear-drive sports car with an innovative rotary engine. The public got its first look at the Cosmo during the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show. Once production began in 1967, roughly one hand-built coupe left the Hiroshima factory each day. By the time first-generation production wrapped up in 1972, just 1,176 cars had been built.

This stunning navy example is owned by car collector Myron Vernis, and was featured at the 2014 Ault Park Concours show.

A second-generation Cosmo debuted for 1975; for economic reasons, it was now related to the Luce (929) sedan. Positioned as a personal luxury car, the Cosmo carried an opera window and an optional vinyl roof. Two inline-four engines joined a 1.1- and 1.3-liter rotary engine. Generation Two proved successful in Japan, where car taxation was (and is) based upon engine displacement. Less displacement, less taxes.

1981 brought the third-generation Cosmo, once again based on the Luce platform. Traces of brougham went away, as the angular coupe adopted modern styling, hidden headlamps, and graphic equalizers. For the first and only time, the HB Cosmo was available in a sedan body style — a rebadge of the Luce with a rotary engine. Cosmo choice reached a peak in this generation; gasoline, diesel, and rotary engines were on offer.

After the HB rounded out the Eighties, a fourth and final JC generation Eunos Cosmo was introduced for 1990. In 1989, Mazda founded its Eunos brand as a luxury arm to compete with the likes of Lexus and Infiniti. Aspirations in mind, Mazda developed a new platform for the Cosmo that was an extensive rework of the prior-gen HB. The coupe would end up the only car to use the platform.

Turning up the luxury, the Eunos Cosmo was a four-place affair which featured every technology Mazda could manage. The Cosmo was the first production car with factory GPS navigation. A cutting-edge CRT screen in the dash controlled navigation, television, audio system, and the climate control. It was the only Mazda ever equipped with a triple rotary engine: the uplevel 2.0-liter “20B” twin-turbo power plant. 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque travelled to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic.

All this luxury and technology made for a lofty price, which was at odds with the financial crisis sweeping Japan at the time. Mazda ended up cancelling its Eunos dreams, folding the other models under development into other places in its lineup. The Eunos Cosmo remained right-hand drive, sold only in the Japanese market. When production ended in 1995, just 8,875 existed. Your author drove one, but only in Gran Turismo on Playstation 1.

Today’s Rare Ride is a tidy graphite example for sale in San Francisco (listing expired). Earlier examples are now eligible for import under the 25-year rule, and can be found for between $15,000 and $20,000 on U.S. shores.

[Images: seller, Corey Lewis/TTAC]

Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments
  • EAF EAF on May 23, 2019

    I'm surprised the Eunos can be had for $15k - $20k since the 3 rotor 20B engine alone sells for $10k. Very very cool cars by Mazda.

    • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on May 23, 2019

      Yeah, it's expensive. From what I've read, once you go past two rotors, the eccentric shaft (a rotary's "crankshaft") has to be a built-up affair, and is longer one piece. Also I've read that new rotor housings aren't available anymore (even for two-rotors like the 12A and 13B), so you have to search for NOS rotor housings if you're doing a rebuild.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on May 23, 2019

    That most recent Cosmo w/ the CRT looks pretty awesome. That was the only one of the line of which I was unaware. Ignoring the idea of turbo tri-rotor rotary in a luxury car, it is something I would have enjoyed driving.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.