The 30th of May marks the 40th anniversary of the sale of the first Mazda powered by a rotary engine. The Cosmo Sport, which debuted in the Japanese market in 1967, was the world’s first dual-rotar, rotary powered vehicle and one of the first mass produced cars of its type. The motor put out a modest 110hp (82kW) at 7,000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 3,500rpm from its 1.0L displacement and is regarded as Mazda’s first mass produced Wankel rotary engine.

Mazda was not the first manufacturer to mass produce a car powered by a rotary engine. That title was won by Germany’s NSU Wankel Spider of 1964, and it wasn’t long before the mainstream carmakers such as Citroën, Daimler-Benz, Alfa-Romeo and Mazda joined the rotary bandwagon.

However, the initial designs were unreliable and there was a general lack of understanding on how to maintain the engines. Combined with the other disadvantages of rotaries, such as the higher fuel-consumption, poor seals and incomplete combustion problems, most manufacturers ending up abandoning the design.

Today, only Mazda offers a rotary powered car in the form of its RX-8 four-door coupe and we hope to see the unique engines powering its next generation of RX models.