Market Finds: Will You Become The Next Caretaker Of This Rotary-Powered Legend?

Will You Become The Next Caretaker Of This Rotary-Powered Legend?

By Andrew Golseth
March 31, 2016

Photography courtesy of The Finest

When people chat Japanese nostalgic cars, the Toyota 2000GT, Nissan Hakosuka, and Kenmeri Skyline tend to be the highlighted examples of discussion. While those Honshu heroes are undisputedly special, they’ve hogged the spotlight for years—overshadowing a handful of equally remarkable vehicles from The Land of the Rising Sun. In recent light, market trends have shown appreciation for a wider range of JNC, including cars like this 1970 Mazda Cosmo 110S.

Mazda debuted its first Cosmo Sport prototype at the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show. Resembling more spaceship than automobile, the prototype was a big hit at the unveiling, with looks that’d make George Jetson pine for one. The thin profile features a bold Corvair Line, the swept back roofline gives the Cosmo a supersonic stance at a standstill, and the bumper-split taillights resemble scorching afterburners.

Even the name Cosmo was inspired by the period’s most famous international rivalry: The Space Race. It wasn’t just the cutting edge styling that made the Cosmo such a stunner, either: the 110S was the first production vehicle to feature a two-rotor Wankel rotary engine.

That’s right: the Cosmo is the original whirling-twirling-Dorito-of-doom from Mazda. Whether you’re a fan of the polygonal ‘piston’ powertrain or not, there’s no denying it’s mechanical allure—making it choice for a spacecraft inspired Japanese GT. I don’t care to own anything with a rotary, but I’ve always thought they were bewildering.

The first Cosmo production batch was referred to as the Series I/L10A, and featured a 982 cc rotary spun with a 4-speed manual—good for around 110 horsepower. By mid-1968, Mazda released the Series II/L10B model, which gained a fifth gear and increased power output to a whirling 130 hp.

Though it doesn’t sound like much, the power is more than adequate for the sub-2,100-pound space pod. The Series II/L10B is capable of rocketing a 15.8 second quarter mile time and has a max ground speed north of 120 mph—no slouch in 1968!

This particular car is a Series II and its serial number is LB10-10777. The interior remains largely original except for a cleanly integrated aftermarket air-conditioning system that’s claimed to work excellently. All of the hard-to-find pieces (essentially any part) are accounted for including the original three-spoke helm, steel wheels complete with covers, and beautiful houndstooth upholstery—new carpet keeps the inside looking fresh.

The body was resprayed some time ago, and is in good driving condition with minor wear congruent with the car’s age. The mechanicals have been thoroughly maintained throughout its life and the ad notes the car is in good running order—if it was any nicer, the next lucky owner of chassis 7-7-7 would almost feel guilty for driving it, and that’d be a shame.

There aren’t many cars left that’ll stump today’s internet-savvy automotive enthusiasts, but the Mazda Cosmo remains a mysterious Japanese Nostalgic Car petrolheads tend to forget exists. With JNC becoming more and more popular, over the last couple years the Cosmo has reached stratospheric collectability. Only an estimated 1,176 Cosmo were produced making them one of the rarest classic sports cars from the Far East.

– One of ~1,176 total produced

~130 horsepower, 982 cc two-rotor Type 0832 10a Wankel engine, 5-speed manual transmission, independent front coil spring suspension with anti-roll bar, rear live axle semi-elliptic leaf spring rear suspension, front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,200 mm.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: L10B – 10777
– Numbers matching with historical documentation

Auction house: The Finest
Estimate: $90,000 – $140,000
Price realized: Auction on April 9

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John Papalardo
John Papalardo
8 years ago

Cool ca r– I’m thinking that the one that sold for $46k earlier this week was a fantastic deal even though it had a 13B, a 5-speed, ugly wheels — story here on Daily Turismo.

8 years ago
Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago
Reply to  JB21

Ha ! Fun indeed ! And a hearty domo arigato from me as well ! Love the ‘ Speed Racer ‘ references on the car what with the stripes etc . Not to mention one of the few times a Cosmos made it down the road without breaking [ or did it … movie magic and editing being what it is ]

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

Errrr …. No ! As iconic a car as the Cosmos is ..being the predecessor of all things RX7 etc .. the car itself is excessively fragile to an excess .. deeming it in my opinion one of the few classic cars I’d relegate to Museum status only .. as even new it was never what one could call ‘ road worthy ‘ . In fact it was [ and still is ] the very anthesis of Japanese quality and reliability .. deserving of its place in history .. but better off ‘ kept ‘ rather than driven

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