Kramer! 1976 Mazda RX-5 Cosmo

Well, here’s a car most of us have probably never seen in person – a Mazda Cosmo, also known as the RX-5 and powered by the 12A rotary engine. The oddball factor of a Yankee-style Japanese coupe with a rotary engine is enough to make it worth featuring here, in spite of its smog-check-eligible build date. These cars were apparently built on the platform of the RX-4, so combined with that and the plethora of RX-7s and other rotary models sold here over the years, you should be able to easily find mechanical bits. Cosmos in lesser condition than this one also pop up in the classifieds every so often, but this has been the first one in driver condition with a few interesting extras.

To move along to the car at hand, check it out here on craigslist, owned by a Mazda enthusiast who is also selling his (very rare, and much more pricey) first-generation Cosmo. The first impression is good – shiny paint in a 70s-tastic purple color, really cool alloys that look an awful lot like the wheels on 1/24-scale Burago models from the 80s, and a tidy interior. It’s only $2250 and it’s on Whidbey Island, WA.

1976 Mazda Cosmo front

Okay, so the front end is not the prettiest, but it is an interesting Japanese interpretation of contemporary American car design. The car is pretty clean-looking overall, and has an interesting window setup down the side, with a mini-opening window (the middle one) for the rear passengers. Hey, that’s a lot more than you got in the back seat of many coupes of this period, aside from maybe an Alfetta GT.

1976 Mazda Cosmo rear

The rear is actually pretty interesting, with a stretched-out “U” forming the rear light cluster. Shiny and reasonably recent paint notwithstanding, this car does have a bit of rust in the trunk lid and door bottoms, but that’s not too surprising for a 1970s Japanese car in a less-than-dry climate. Surface rust is also present on the bumpers, so you may want to sand and spray with semi-gloss silver paint, until you (or a subsequent owner) goes for the rechrome. Is that an Opel GT in the background, or some kind of VW-based kit car?

1976 Mazda Cosmo engine

From here, the engine compartment looks immaculate, housing a rebuilt 13B engine by Atkins (no carbs? hey-o!) with 14K on it. Paired up with a 5-speed, this car must at least be a pleasant drive, maybe not terribly fast or fuel efficient but with a smooth engine and ride. The four disc brakes and multi-link independent suspension means the handling must be reasonably decent.

1976 Mazda Cosmo interior

Lastly, the interior looks pretty tidy. Dash mat may be covering up some cracks, but the seats are clean, dash is intact, and the car apparently has a new headliner. Basically what you’d hope for in a car with about 55K on it. More pics and details in this listing from a previous owner. Truly an interesting car, and with all the rotary upgrades that are available, you could surely build this up into something pretty fun that would surprise your average RX-7/8 driver and be a hit at the old-school Japanese car show.

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2 Responses to “Kramer! 1976 Mazda RX-5 Cosmo”

  1. jose a. cruz Says:

    Tengo un RX 5 del 1978 y estoy buscando algunas piezas ya que lo estoy pintando.

  2. jose a. cruz Says:

    I look for some parts for my Cosmo 1978.

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