Mazda's Rotary Engine Returns for 2019 - Just Not How You Had Hoped
Mazda never gave up on the rotary engine. Despite putting it on hiatus after the RX-8 ended production in 2012, the automaker has continued developing rotary-based solutions to achieve locomotion. There has even been a longstanding promise that a Wankel motor would eventually return in a future sports car that would trump the MX-5 in outright performance. However, Mazda never mentioned when the world could expect to see another rotary in action.
Then Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s global powertrain head, gave us a timeline to sink our teeth into. The year of the Wankel will be 2019, but it’s not coming back how you imagined. Instead of dropping it into a high-revving performance vehicle, Mazda thinks a rotary would make the perfect gas-powered range extender for its upcoming electric vehicle.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Mazda RX-7
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.
Junkyard Find: 1979 Mazda RX-7
First-gen RX-7 s aren’t uncommon in wrecking yards in the western part of the country, as demonstrated by this ’79, this ’80 with incredibly of-its-time custom paint, and this fairly solid ’85. In fact, I don’t bother to photograph most of the examples I see. Today’s ’79, with its brown-and-beige tape stripes, seemed worthy of inclusion in the Junkyard Find series, though.
Junkyard Find: 1979 Mazda RX-7
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.
This Dorky Kid Is Really Cool, Actually
“It fuel starves on left turns on about… seventy Ohms.”
Now that is not something you hear every day about a “tuner car”, is it?
Junkyard Find: 1980 Mazda RX-7, With Incredibly 80s Custom Paint
First-generation RX-7s aren’t uncommon Junkyard Finds, even though the youngest ones are 27 years old now. However, not many full-on early-to-mid-80s custom paint jobs show up at junkyards these days. Here’s one I found in Denver last week.
Junkyard Find: 1985 Mazda RX-7
Back when I reviewed the final Mazda RX-8, I ranted on at some length about my envy of my RX-7-driving college classmates who were the rich sons of high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers and government officials. Still, except when I was shopping for a Mazda rear end for my 20R Sprite Hell Project, I haven’t paid much attention to the many RX-7s I’ve seen in wrecking yards over the years. First-gen examples aren’t uncommon even today; here’s an ’85 I found in a Denver yard last week.
Capsule Review: 1993 Mazda RX-7
Bribery! While TTAC has a Get Behind Me Satan approach to the buffet-table and the press junket, we’re still mostly susceptible to the kryptonite lure of interesting cars.
So when Mazda called me up and asked if I’d like to sample a little of their driving heritage in a blatant PR move, I huffily told them that I could not in good conscience be complicit in helping further burnish their brand image as a manufacturer of sporting products. I reminded them that I thought the Mazda2 too slow, the Mazda3 too ugly, the Mazdaspeed3 possessed of worse torque steer than a one-legged unicyclist, the cabin of the MX-5 designed for people with short legs and prehensile elbows, and that they didn’t even build a rotary engine any more, so what was the point?
Naturally, I said all these things in my internal voice during the 3.7 nanosecond pause before, “OohyespleaseWhencanIpickitupHowaboutnow?”
Who’s ready for some yellow journalism?
New or Used: Ending 2011 With a Bang!
Down On the 1993 Hayward Street: Ripped-n-Stripped Victims
When scanning old negatives for the most recent installment of the Impala Hell Project series, I found these Ansco Pix Panorama camera shots that I took in gritty, grimy, industrial Hayward, California in 1993. They didn’t add anything to the Impala Hell Project story, so I’m sharing them in a separate post.
And the Winner Is…
At the end of yesterday’s race session, it appeared that we had a Stealth-626-Supra battle for the B.F.E. GP win on laps. All day today, however, the Ghetto Motorsports Mazda RX-7 (winner of the 2010 B.F.E. GP, not to mention the LeMons Mountain Region championship) kept creeping up on the 1-2-3 cars.
And the Real Winner Is…
The Index of Effluency, 24 Hours of LeMons racing’s top prize, goes to the team that achieves beyond all expectations in an unspeakably terrible car. That means, most of the time, something like an MGB-GT or Chevy S10. A 1987 Mazda RX-7, a pretty quick and reliable car in most cases, wouldn’t qualify for IOE status… under normal circumstances. In the case of the lunatic Texans of Team Sensory Assault, however, we’ve got a silk purse that’s been turned into a sow’s ear, then shot full of holes, fed through a shredder, and boiled in chlorine triflouride.
Capsule Review: 1993 Mazda RX-7 and The Finest In Men's…
More than a few of you had a simple question (or statement) regarding my Infiniti G20 Capsule Review, namely,
“Why didn’t you check the mileage of the dealer trade?”
The answer is simple: I wasn’t even permitted to call other dealerships, much less arrange trades. At that particular shop, salespeople weren’t even permitted to see the final numbers at deals. We were intended to be “product specialists”, not wheeler-dealers.
In fact, our rather idealistic general manager believed in specifically hiring people with no experience in the industry. His boss, the dealer group manager, had deep roots in the buy-here-pay-here biz. The conflict between these two philosophies occasionally led to trouble…