Automotive

Published on May 31st, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Rotary engine celebrates its 50th birthday

Mazda has produced 1.99 million vehicles fitted with a rotary engine, ranging from sports cars and sedans to 26-passenger buses in the past 50 years. Well, to be accurate, it produced rotary engines for 45 years as the rotary engine was finally abandoned in 2012, the victim of disappointing torque, long-term reliability issues and high polluting emissions.

Mazda turned its attention and resources to its new SKYACTIV technology in the last 5 years and this has paid off handsomely for Mazda.

It all started with the Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S. Launched in 1967, the Cosmo became a cult classic thanks to its unique high-revving engine that spun up to a heady 7000rpm, which was far more than other small 4-cylinder sports cars could produce. Its 982cc twin-rotor engine produced only 82kW – not bad for a car weighing under 1000kg and drove the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission.

The RX-2 was Mazda’s first true rotary passenger car (pictured above and my personal favorite till today). Released in Japan on the 13th of May 1970 as the R612, a designation combining the rotary 12A and the piston 1600.

Then came the RX3 followed by the highly successful RX-7 Savanna series which gave us the last of the great Mazda sports car, the RX-7 Efini and then it all ended with the RX8.


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