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Rotary Review

Look closely at the picture

1978 Cosmo

1974 Cosmo

1990 RX7 Convertible

1979 RX7

2004 RX8

1974 REPU

1974 RX2 Coupe

1976 RX3 Sedan

RX3 Coupe

RX3 wagon

RX4 sedan

RX4 Wagon


RX4 Coupe

Having owned no less than ten of every model except the R-100 (6), FD (0) and the new fangled RX8 (2) I would consider myself an enthusiast and would like to tell you about my driving experience in these models as they appeared stock

69 -70 R100.

The R-100 had a hard time starting with the origional 10A, but would they wind out. Most of us retro fit a 12A into them by 1973 because of startup & failures, but with a 10A the car was quick and fairly fast. Handling was nimble but squirley with leaf spring suspension in the rear. The split case 4 speed gear box was short geared like the RX8 and lended a hand to its quick feel. The car had a high center of gravity , but the whole package was ahead of its time. I loved all my R-100s and had two with every engine 10A,12A &13B. The one TRADGEDY that happened to a lot of them was when people would put a 12A or 13B in many times they would cut the shifter hole! These little cars also tended to bend across the seat rail, starting at the shifter hole mid ship after years of launching and by 1980 most good chassis were gone- destroyed. The same rev increase a 12A has over a 13B was the same increment as a 10A so 9000 RPM for a 10A was very realistic. Hmm . . . maybe thats' why they didn't start or last?

71-74 RX-2.

The RX2 Started ! Yay the 200 cc displacement increase made this car reliable after mid of 1973 when the triple tie rotor housings were cast, we had a great car.

I loved all my RX2s. These cars were quick and fast. Handling was excellent compared to the R100 due to the four link and pan hard rod, this cars' suspension, brakes and platform was later brought back in the 1979-1985 RX7. An RX2 was basically a boxy prototype of the RX7 and if you had a 2/7 sitting next to each other and you were on a creeper you couldn't tell the difference! The coupe was a pain for getting in & out of the back seat, but the sedan was a way to get your buddies out to go elephant (V8) hunting. The RX-2 was a delightful handling functional whip that would impress and scare even the most staunch rotary skeptics.

1973-1978 RX3

Back to squirley with a leaf spring suspension! Fast, Quick and light I never "clicked" with my RX3s. In fact I think I only bought about twenty and most of them were wagons! I described them back then as tin ee (as in tin can). The coupes were again hard to access the back seat. The four doors were used for high speed demos and the wagons were just awesome with a ability to fold down and sleep two, host four person road trips and yet still could threaten a 5.0 mustang :).

The last SP I had I sold for $500 in 2003 because everybody had raced it to the point of strutural compromise of the unibody (again tin ee). I also never liked the two piece nose/hood arrangement and felt it was ugly on the Cosmo and 1976-78 RX4 as well. I beat all my coupes and cared for my sedan and wagons. In 1978 I was a passenger in a sedan that rolled at 110MPH in third gear trying to pull thru a corner -we all walked away unscathed! I always thought Mazda went wrong on the RX3 in amenities, HP, weight and suspension

1974 -1978 RX4

My favorite Rotary of all period. First year of the 13B with a five speed transmission type that was used later in the Turbo II and FD. Mazda had produced a car that was the fourth fastest tested in 1974 only beat by 3 exotics from 0-60. Simple car, simple design simply fast with futuristic interior styling, overhead console, no window "B" pillars and a one piece hood. The coupes were still a pain to get into the back seat , but these cars were solid. Much heavier than the RX2/3 the RX4 had a port configuration the size of a 91-94 FD. These cars were just flat out fast. I drove a stock 1974 RX4 to 145 mph- did I mention stock! how about Automatic! with the AC on! RPM 6800! The RX4 was heavy enough to hold the road above 130, powerful enough to go 130 and you did not feel you were going to die in it like the previous models at 130, in fact it would eat 120 for 4 hours and your mom would just ask " why is everyone going so slow" but in a R100 & RX3 you knew very well anything over 110, but the RX-2 sedan with four people was "OK" at 120 but took a while to get there.The 74s were my favorite as Mazda cut down the port size in 1976 as well as the intake manifold runner sizes in anything past 1975. Why? because they were passing everything on the road . . . . but the gas station! I would argue that the 1974 RX4 wagon was the best driving and most comfortable rotary ever made and have taken more than one of those cross country with a trailer on back to go pick up an RX7. The RX4 Sport Coupe , and RX4 line is by far my pick for the best Rotary ever made. The FC,FD and RX8 are light duty "knock off" versions of this early 13B in terms of basic engine engineering and further undermine reliability and design simplicity with expensive proprietory fuel management as well as pressurized induction. The sedans were ugly as far as styling , but were a delightful way of sharing a wankel experience in comfort.

To Be Continued . . . . . .

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