How does it all start? Mazda was at a crossroads in the 1960s as the Japanese government was restructuring the national auto industry. The president of the factory, Tsuneji Matsuda, was not willing for the company to be absorbed and in 1961 signed an agreement with the German firm NSU to develop the rotary engine. The story was already underway!
VIDEO: This is a rotary engine with the Mazda that built it
But it was not easy: the engine itself had many complications: its vibrations caused abnormal wear, the leaks of fuel caused clouds of whitish smoke and peer delivery to low revs It was highly upgradeable.
But to each problem they found a solution: 47 Mazda engineers they got down to work. This great effort was finally embodied in the 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport, which was the first series production car to mount a two-rotor engine.
The quintessential sports car with a rotary engine: the Mazda RX-7
This model was the forerunner of a saga of legendary models, among which stands out one that achieved that the compact sports cars with rotary engine made a place among car lovers: the Mazda RX-7.
From the beginning, the roar of the Mazda RX-7 revolutionized racing in and out of Europe. The RX-7 won the British Saloon Car Championship in the 1600 to 2300 cc category in 1980 and 1981. Also in 1981, he proved his reliability by crossing in first position before the checkered flag of the 24 Hours of Spa.
This extensive experience of the Mazda RX-7 gained in the racing world carried over to the 710 bhp Mazda 787B, the car that staggered the piston racing engine establishment in 1991 when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It remains the only car without a piston engine to have won them.
The 1973-74 oil crisis ended this splendor: the lively but thirsty engines had to give way to units with much tighter consumption. Mazda stopped mounting rotary engines almost entirely. But they did not give up.
Yamamoto, who had led the team of engineers who developed the first rotary engines in the 1960s, undertook an in-depth overhaul of the 12A engine and managed to significantly reduce its fuel consumption.
Among other measures, his team adopted more durable apical seals and improved lubrication. The Mazda RX-7 Second Generation (“FC”) was introduced in 1985 and incorporated a number of improvements, such as the DTSS (Dynamic Alignment Suspension System) and a turbocharger. Yes, because supercharging was very well suited to rotary engines.
The third and last generation (“FD”), which arrived in 1992, came with a new sequential turbocharger double that raised the power of the last 13B engine up to 239 CV, in its European version. Enthusiasts said it was the best-handling RX-7 ever built.
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The year 2002 marked the end of one of the most exceptional sports cars in history. Between 1978 and 2002, Mazda manufactured a total of 811,634 units, by far the largest number for any rotary model.
The spirit of the Mazda RX-7 lived on. First, in the Mazda RX-8, which followed in its wake in 2003, and then laying the foundations for numerous technical innovations that were coming. Perhaps among the striking are the Mazda models with a rotary hydrogen engine, such as the RX-8 Hydrogen RE, which could run on hydrogen or gasoline, and the Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, a mini-volume with an electric motor and a rotary hydrogen engine with a dual fuel system. Finally, the brand developed an electrical prototype of the Mazda2 equipped with a small single rotor rotary motor to increase autonomy. A similar system is likely to be mounted on the Mazda MX-30, a novel all-electric SUV that will hit dealerships this year.