You have to admire Mazda for their commitment to the rotary engine. As we’ve seen with other engineering-driven companies, their solutions don’t always contribute to the financial health of the company, but they sure do make for some interesting products any well-rounded car enthusiast cannot overlook. Right now, the rotary is down for the count, with the RX-8 having run its course with no immediate replacement, but Mazda still claims to be working on future evolutions of the rotary. Back in the 1970s, Mazda had a whole lineup of rotary-powered cars, from compact coupe to pickup truck. You can find this 1973 Mazda RX-3 wagon for sale for $3500 in Pittsburgh/Antioch, CA.
This medium blue is a great color, and it suits the wagon well. The paint seems to have a nice gloss, and hopefully that’s genuine and not the cheap shine from a poorly-applied Maaco repaint. It is nice to see one of these that is neither hot-rodded nor a sun-baked shed. It’s also great this car is early enough to have the smaller chrome bumpers instead of the giant impact units – it’s so disappointing to see a rotary Mazda listed, only to find it has large bumpers (or the unfinished look when they’re removed) or an automatic transmission.
Body work looks pretty straight from this angle too, though the seller offers no shots of the passenger side of the car. The car is said to be a non-runner, sold as-is, and while we don’t generally feature non-running cars, it’s so hard to find a non-hacked, running car for a reasonable price that this will have to do.
It looks like someone has tried to start it – the air filter is off to the side in the engine bay. It’s impressive how clean everything looks down here for a non-running, 41-year-old car. Outside of North America and Japan, this car was sold as the Mazda 808 or 818, or as the Grand Familia, fitted with an inline four-cylinder engine of 1.3 or 1.6 liters. The rotary was the one to have, though, putting out nearly twice the horsepower of the piston-engined car at 130hp.
The interior doesn’t look half bad either – while there’s probably some sun damage to the dash and seats, it’s nothing critical. Rotary engines are still fairly plentiful, and this car should have a 12A, for which parts are available. With some extra fuel to keep you going, this car should be easily able to keep up with the BMWs, Alfas and more on any weekend rally – would you represent the wagon contingent? And if you can’t, check out the seller’s 1976 Mazda Cosmo, saddled with an automatic and big bumpers, but sporting a cool wood-and-banjo-spoke wheel for $3000.