Driven by Design: Mazda Cosmo 110S
Photography by Otis Blank for Petrolicious
The Mazda Cosmo 110S hit American shores in 1967, along with several other Japanese sports cars such as the Honda S800 and Toyota 2000GT. Realizing that the key to serious growth lay in wealthier Western markets, all the major Japanese companies attempted to expand their brands with halo cars. Like their national competitors, Mazda sought to appeal to foreign tastes by copying their Western counterparts.
Unlike the Toyota 2000GT however, the Cosmo was designed without outside help, by Mr. Heiji Kobayashi. But as it was intended to interest Western sensibilities, the inspiration behind it was solidly based upon cars popular at the time (and henceforth thought of as beautiful) such as the Ford Thunderbird but especially the early 60s Ferrari 400 SuperAmerica by Pininfarina (certainly not the prettiest Ferrari, but the most expensive and exclusive at the time).
Like its inspiration, the Cosmo is a rear-wheel drive, two-seater powered by a front-mounted one liter, two-rotor engine and its proportions speak to this arrangement well. It features a short front overhang with a long rear to maximize trunk space (no doubt to please perceived American needs). In spite of its relatively small size, the greenhouse is bright and airy due to the amount of glass. However, this is one place where the Cosmo falls short. The front-engine, RWD proportion could have been emphasized better by stretching the B-pillar slightly and lengthening the backlight. Additionally, had the B-pillar been moved back to sit above the rear tire, it would have given the car a much more athletic, muscular look.