Exactly 50 years ago today (30 May 1967), Mazda launched their first ever sports car, the Mazda Cosmo Sport. It was also the world’s first car powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine.
Most of us know the two-seater Cosmo as the 110S, whose very foundation led to the creation of legends such as the MX-5 and RX-7 despite building just 1,176 units. Before Mazda had the Cosmo, they predominantly built trucks and small cars.
As one of the world’s leading engineers/developers of the rotary engine, Mazda’s commitment was generously rewarded when they went on to build close to 2 million rotary-powered cars. They also achieved considerable racing success when the RX-7 wiped the floor clean at the International Motor Sport Association events throughout the 1980s.
The biggest breakthrough however came in 1991 when the Mazda 787B won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was powered by a 2.6-litre four-rotor engine producing close to 700 hp and became the only non-reciprocating engine to ever win the iconic endurance race. Mazda also became the first Asian brand to win at Le Mans.
But what sort of benefits did the Mazda Cosmo bring to the existing Skyactiv engines? For one, it set in stone the brand’s tradition of innovation, like for instance overcoming the conventional barriers in developing extremely high compression gasoline engines (14.0:1!) and making cars fun to drive at the same time.
If you think this is all fluff, remember, Mazda is the only car brand that needs not cheat to get past emissions regulators. Happy 50th birthday, Cosmo. We hope the lads at Hiroshima are hard at work realising the next-generation Skyactiv-R engines.