Japanese classics from the Sixties and Seventies are high in demand and there are loads out there that enthusiasts desire, but one of the more interesting options would be the Cosmo Sport.
The little coupe was, undoubtedly, a star of the time as it set Mazda on route to perfecting rotary engines by being the first to be motivated by one.
Mazda overcame several technical issues (the biggest being the scoring of the combustion chambers by the tips of the rotors turning within them) and managed to find solutions in time for a 1967 debut where the Cosmo Sport became the first rotary-powered production car.
343 units of the first series, also known as the Mazda 110S in export markets, were built before the model was updated the following year where it got a five-speed gearbox, more power and a longer wheelbase. Mazda made 833 of these and in total there were less than 1,200 which underlines just how rare these were then and are today. But they weren’t ever going to be built in bulk because Mazda had the unenvious task of convincing customers to buy into what was essentially unproven technology; the two-rotor engine displaced just under a litre and it made 126bhp. By all accounts, the snug, two-seater was a delight to drive; hallmarks of a Wankel engine were all present including a free-revving nature, lots of blue smoke and the whiff of burning oil. RX-7 and RX-8 owners will know all about that.
Aesthetically, it was an odd mix of European and American styling while the cosy bubble-topped cabin featured an elegant, Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel and a large, driver-oriented instrument binnacle.
It looked rather dainty but it proved its mettle during the 1968 Marathon de la Routes in an epic 84-hour non-stop drive where it sealed a very impressive fourth place finish. Mazda’s enthusiasm for proving rotary technology in racing continued in the following two decades and they scored a win at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours for the ear-splitting 787B.
Ever since the RX-8 was discontinued,in 2012 Mazda has not had a rotary powered car in its range and that makes the Cosmo Sport even more desirable.