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Engine revolution: Mazda’s rotary and its uncertain future

Conventional gas and diesel engines do a commendable job serving car and truck owners’ needs, but futurists insist that electric motors will eventually supplant them as the power source of choice. Some 50 years ago, a similar situation cropped up: Mazda’s ultrasmooth rotary engine had bright hopes of sending pistons the way of the buggy whip. With Mazda celebrating its 100th birthday this year, what better time to toast the brand’s most ambitious technical stride?


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I had a 1974 RX-3 and it was a great experience. I put over 100K miles on the car before I sold it. It was still running strong but oil consumption has increased to about 450 miles per quart. Fuel economy was disappointing. 18mpg was about the tops. It was the smoothest running car I've ever owned. At 30-35 mph you couldn't hear any engine noise what-so-ever. Got rubber in second gear with ease and even chirped the tires into third gear a few times. No engine work required. The car was hard on exhaust systems and I had to replace the electric fuel pump two times.