27 May 2017
More than an old car #7: Mazda Cosmo
Mazda is a well-known name here and in car circles, the RX-7, RX-8 and MX-5 are viewed as divas due to many reasons. However, I believe you would not have guessed what car this was because there are no visible logos. Not many are aware of its existence and neither did I until I chanced upon it some time back--please pardon the potato photo quality.
What you are seeing is the 1983 Mazda Cosmo Series HB, made between 1981-1989. The Cosmo was the first car to utilise the unique rotary engine, where all the cylinders are arranged in a circle and power was generated by the engine's rotation, hence the name. It was thus the 'halo vehicle' for Mazda as they had no other examples to refer to. Previously, rotary engines were only used in airplanes back in the 1930s and 1940s. The name 'cosmo' was used to show interest about the Space Race back in the 1960s, and represented Mazda's wish to be forward-looking with their revolutionary engine design.
The FB Mazda Cosmo was equipped with a 12A Wankel rotary engine, which enabled it to reach a top speed of 253 km/h. It was 4.68 m long and weighed 1145 kg. Last but not least, it had pop-up headlights which was a uniquely 1980s feature--they were phased out due to concerns for pedestrian safety.
Production ended in 1989 with about 15,000 made. Based on my knowledge, only 2/3 are still in Singapore, and this is what enthusiasts would call a real JDM (Japanese Domestic Market). Due to the government's restrictions, you don't see them any more but I do hope there is an owner somewhere who will take care of it.