REAL CAR CULTURE

AUTO MESSE WEB

REAL CAR CULTURE

AUTO MESSE WEB(オートメッセウェブ)

CLASSIC
share:

Mazda’s Phantom Rotary Engine Car Prototype ‘RX500’ Is Back!

posted at:

TEXT: 西川昇吾(NISHIKAWA Shogo)  PHOTO: 西川昇吾(NISHIKAWA Shogo)

  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024
  • Mazda's 1970 experimental RX500 vehicle on display at Nostalgic 2 Days in February 2024

The Mazda booth was the center of attention at the Nostalgic 2 Days

When most people think of Mazda, rotary engines come to mind, and at ‘Nostalgic 2 Days’ in Yokohama in February 2024, visitors were able to see several rotary engine-powered vehicles, but the Mazda RX500, an experimental vehicle from 1970, which was on display at the booth.

This experimental car explored the possibilities of a rotary engine and midship

The RX500 was unveiled at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show. Having introduced a rotary-engined sports car in 1967 with the Cosmo Sport, Mazda thought, “Next up, a midship like European sports cars!” Mazda explored the possibilities of a rotary engine and a midship engine. The RX500 was an experimental vehicle born as a result.

The RX500’s powertrain was basically taken from the FWD Luce Rotary Coupe (1969), and the engine was a racing 10A peripheral port. The distinctive silhouette, reminiscent of a shooting break, was the work of Shigenori Fukuda, who later became Mazda’s first head of design, and this silhouette was aimed at reducing aerodynamic drag.

The result, however, was that the mid-ship layout had a large powertrain, which proved impossible to balance in terms of weight. The RX500’s existence was significant even if only because it was found to be so. This is how Mazda’s successive rotary sports cars became RWD.

Another RX500 that had completed its role was missing for a long time, but in 2008 it was unearthed from a warehouse, and restoration work began, after which it was displayed at the Numaj Transportation Museum in Hiroshima City. The car was restored to a drivable condition, but in 2021 it was rendered undrivable again and has now been restored for the second time.

Restoration led by young mechanics

The RX500 is now the property of Hiroshima City, as it is currently on display at the Numaj Transportation Museum run by the city. The restoration requires the approval of the Hiroshima City budget, but the city seems to have understood the desire to pass on a historical industrial cultural asset to future generations, and permission was granted for the restoration.

The restoration work was carried out mainly by young mechanics from Hiroshima Mazda, who wanted to pass on Rotary technology to the next generation and continue the system of support for Rotary engine users. The restoration was carried out with the help of Atelier Chroma, a shop in Hiroshima. The young mechanics had a fresh reaction to the rotary engine.

This car is a source of pride for Mazda and the Hiroshima industrial community

When asked what the difficulties were in restoring the car, the most important thing was the lack of parts. The racing 10A engine is mainly made of aluminum and has many special parts. They had to collect and process mass-produced parts, and sometimes had to make one-off parts.

In addition, the clutch also needed to be replaced, but the company that manufactured it at the time was able to have a new one-off clutch made. There are many other episodes like this, which can be attributed to Mazda’s cooperation with local parts suppliers. The rotary engine and Mazda are probably the pride of the people involved in the industry in Hiroshima.

This is how the RX500 was revived. It is currently on display at the Numaj Transportation Museum, except during special events, so I recommend that anyone who is interested in seeing it should go to Hiroshima to see it. They also want to display and run the car at events whenever possible. At this year’s Nostalgic 2 Days, the car was also driven, albeit at low speed, and its engine sound echoed around the venue.

translated by DeepL

すべて表示

ranking

RECOMMEND

MEDIA CONTENTS