History of The Rotary Engine

Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S, 1967

DSC_0777

ENGINE: L10A / 0810 (Series I: May 1967 – July 1968)
DISPLACEMENT: 982 cc Twin Rotor (2 x 491 cc)
POWER: 110 hp @ 7,000 rpm

ENGINE: L10B / 0813 (Series II: July 1968 – September 1972)
DISPLACEMENT: 982 cc Twin Rotor (2 x 491 cc)
POWER: 130 hp @ 7,000 rpm

On 27th February 1961, a licence agreement was signed between Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. and NSU/Wankel. This was a historic milestone for the automotive world and the future development of the rotary piston engine because the industrious Japanese immediately got heavily involved in the enterprise and constructed s development centre for the NSU/Wankel engine in Hiroshima. It was not long before the first results were presented: After NSU was able to present the first car to be series-produced with a rotary engine in the Shape of the Spider in September 1963, Toyo Kogyo followed suit just one month later in October and presented the first two rotary engines of its own at the Tokyo Motor Show. One of them, known internally as the L10A, was a dual-disc rotary engine that had been developed for use in automobiles. In addition, with the “L402A” project an initial prototype of the planned multi-disc automobile was presented: This heralded the start of a competition with NSU, which wanted to presented the first multi-disc rotary engine with the Ro80. In the end, Toyo Kogyo had its nose ahead with its Mazda Automotive brand. For on 30th May 1967 the Mazda Cosmo Sport 11S wrote history as the world’s first production vehicle with a dual-disc rotary engine. This marked the start of a unique success story, and to the present day a total of almost two million Mazda vehicles have been sold with rotary engines.

Nevertheless, the Cosmo remained an unknown quality in Europe, which was primarily down to the fact that this beautiful sports car was only offered in its home market of Japan. Yet the Cosmo evoked fascination worldwide. The intricate structure was reminiscent of the Fulvia from Lancia, and the body lines with pronounced beading down the sides and the rear with the characteristic taillights harked back to an earlier Ford Thunderbird. The bodywork of the Cosmo Sport was made in large parts from aluminium. With a body weight of 950 kilograms, 110 hp delivered swift acceleration – making it one of the fastest cars around in the 1960s. The vehicles from the first series were the rarest – just 343 of them were built. In the second series, an engine which was beefed up to 130 hp (the L10B) was used.

The Cosmo story ended in Autumn 1972. Further Mazda car models with rotary engines followed, but few were as special as the Cosmo. Mazda’s production of rotary engine cars ended in 2013 with the RX-8.

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