Pick of the Day: 1972 Mazda RX-2 with strong, smooth rotary power

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

The Mazda RX-2 was the Japanese automaker’s unique 1970 entry to the US market, presenting a compact car with a then-stunning difference: a rotary engine.  Designed by German engineer Felix Wankel as a smooth-running, piston-less powerplant loaded with horsepower relative to its modest dimensions, the rotary engine set the RX2 apart as a mainstream but unusually quick passenger car.

The Pick of the Day is a 1972 Mazda RX-2, a 2-door coupe that’s been updated with a later 13B rotary engine and other mods to improve drivability and appearance.  Judging by the work done, this RX-2 was owned by a Mazda performance enthusiast who knew what he or she was doing.

“This fine 1972 example is powered by a 13B rotary engine fed by a Holley 600 carb and has MSD ignition,” according to the Orland, Florida, dealer advertising the Mazda on ClassicCars.com. “Rev this rotary out and it almost sounds like a giant wasp thanks to Racing Beat headers and muffler. Paired with a 5-speed manual, imagine how this car can get up and go!”

These early Mazda rotaries have a cult-like following, the seller notes, mainly because they are so tunable for boosting the power and sharpening the handling.  The dealer does not specific what all has been done to this car, other than to note that it’s fast.


The Mazda looks sharp with the styling refinements and graphics, including the Japanese-style fender-mounted mirrors, which look to be classic Talbot racing items.  The interior and dashboard look like they need some cleanup, though.

“This RX-2 has quite a handsome appearance from every angle,” the seller says. “At the front you notice the color-keyed front chin spoiler and chrome bumper. From the sides your eyes are drawn to the lower body decal, fender-mounted mirrors and Konig Rewind Graphite wheels with machined lips.

“With more tasteful upgrades to the suspension and brakes, this car is ready for its next loving home.”

As well as its potential as a great driving car, this RX-2 would be an eye-catching entry in a car show focusing on Japanese vehicles, such as the Pebble Beach Japanese Automotive Invitational, the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, or the Future Collector Car Show, hosted by ClassCars.com in Scottsdale during January’s annual Arizona Car Week.

The asking price for this sought-after favorite is $33,000

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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