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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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]

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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.

  • Statikboy Those tires are the Wrong Size.
  • Mustangfast I had an 06 V6 and loved that car. 230k trouble free miles until I sold it. I remember they were criticized for being too small vs competitors but as a single guy it was the right size for me. I recall the 2.3 didn’t have a reputation for reliability, unlike the V6 and I4. I think it likely didn’t take off due to the manual-only spec, price tag, and power vs the V6 engine and the way it delivered that power. It was always fun to see the difference between these and normal ones, since these were made in Japan whereas all others were flat rock
  • VoGhost Earth is healing.
  • ToolGuy "Having our 4th baby and decided a camper van is a better use of our resources than my tuner."Seller is in the midst of some interesting life choices.Bonus: Here are the individuals responsible for doing the work on this vehicle.
  • MaintenanceCosts Previous owner playing engineer by randomly substituting a bunch of components, then finding out. No thanks.