Despite 27 years having passed since the last Eunos Cosmo rolled off the assembly line, this remarkable car still stands as one of the most innovative and groundbreaking vehicles ever released by Mazda onto public roads.
Invented by German engineer Felix Wankel and brought to commercial feasibility by Hanns-Dieter Paschke, the rotary engine originated in Germany but gained global fame through Japanese carmaker Mazda. Mazda embraced the rotary engine design and incorporated it into several mass-produced models, most notably the iconic RX-7.
Mazda’s journey with the rotary engine began in 1967 with the production of the first-generation Cosmo (L10A). This small, hand-built luxury coupe served as Mazda’s rotary-powered flagship until 1972.
The Cosmo nameplate made a return in 1975 with the introduction of the second-generation model, known as the RX-5 outside Japan. This generation featured improved two-rotor engines, making it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its segment.
By 1978, Mazda’s rotary engine found its way into the RX-7, which later became the company’s most popular model. However, the Cosmo continued to hold its place as Mazda’s rotary flagship.
The third-generation Cosmo, introduced in 1981 (HB), featured the first turbocharged versions of the rotary engine. In its most powerful form, this turbocharged two-rotor engine made the Cosmo coupe Japan’s fastest production car during the 1982 model year.
In 1990, the fourth-generation (JC) Cosmo was introduced as part of Mazda’s luxury brand, Eunos, focusing on the Japanese market. This iteration became Mazda’s most technologically advanced production model.
The fourth-gen Cosmo featured impressive luxury and comfort, with power-adjustable bucket seats, premium leather upholstery, and innovative tech features. It was also the first production car in the world to offer a built-in GPS navigation system.
Under the hood, the Cosmo was powered by either a two-rotor 13B or a three-rotor 20B rotary engine, both equipped with sequential twin-turbos. The three-rotor 20B engine made the Cosmo the first and only mass-produced car powered by a three-rotor engine.
Despite its technological advancements and performance capabilities, the Cosmo faced challenges in the Japanese market due to tax regulations and its high price, limiting its sales success.
Today, the Eunos Cosmo is a forgotten JDM rotary legend, but it remains one of the cheapest rotary-powered Mazdas available on the used car market. Two-rotor versions can be found for around $8,000, while the rarer three-rotor models are priced at an average of $15,000.
This unique piece of JDM history showcases Mazda’s pioneering spirit and innovation in the realm of rotary engines. For a closer look at the Eunos Cosmo and its history, you can watch a detailed video review on YouTube by Jalopnik.
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