Rare rotary: 1970 Mazda Cosmo 110S export model

The Pick of the Day is a limited-production coupe that has become a desirable Japanese collector car

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cosmo
The Cosmo coupe was the first Mazda with a rotary engine

One of the fascinating things about the classic car hobby is that no matter how much you know about old cars, there is always something else out there to learn about.

The first Mazda that I was aware of and interested in was the 1979 RX-7. Our neighbor bought a white one new and crazily let me drive it, and before I had a license. That RX-7 was fun and it offered more sports car for the money than anything else at the time.

cosmo

Mazda’s RX3 had held little interest to me because despite having a cool rotary engine, it was just a fairly mundane sedan. But before the RX3 came a sporty coupe that immediately captured my attention when I first saw a picture of one, the Mazda Cosmo.

The Pick of the Day is a 1970 Mazda Cosmo 110S export model. It is unknown how many export Cosmos were built, though we do know that Mazda produced in total just 343 Series 1 cars and 1,176 Series 2 cars.  

So somewhere in that Series 2 production run is where the export models were pulled from. It helps to know that only six Cosmos were ever imported into the U.S. during their production run.

The Cosmo was a halo car for Mazda and when launched in 1967, it was the first production car from Mazda with a rotary engine. Mazda named it Cosmo to tie into the space race and to show that the little car company in Hiroshima was looking to the future.

RELATED:  Pick of the Day: They called it ‘Hardbody’ for a reason

The first time I actually got to drive a Cosmo was at the Classic Motorsports Mitty in 2011 when Mazda brought one from their museum.  The Cosmo was an absolute gem behind the wheel, with the high-revving rotary engine, front disk brakes and perfectly balanced handling.

According to the seller, a Sarasota, Florida, dealer advertising the Cosmo on ClassicCars.com, this car has always been properly maintained and is in exceptional condition. It has spent the majority of its life, both in Japan and the U.S., in climate-controlled storage. Interesting to note is neither a Series 1 nor 2 but the rarer export model. You can tell because of the “Made in Japan” hood-latch stamp and the front air dam.

cosmo

The seller further states that this Cosmo runs and drives well and benefitted from a bare-metal paint job in the correct Swan White paint color, new wheels and tires, and a proper hounds-tooth-and-black vinyl interior. The coupe is right-hand drive, as were all Cosmos, designed for the Japanese domestic market and exported to other RHD countries.

As evidenced by a certain 240Z that recent3y sold for more than $300k, Japanese cars are continuing to heat up in the classic car market. This Cosmo with an asking price of $139,900 looks cheap when compared with the 240Z sale.

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

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I owned a “fairly mundane” 1972 Mazda RX3 that I bought in National City, California (San Diego) while in the Navy. It was red. It was fast. It arrived fairly unknown at that time, and would surprise other car owners in traffic and pulling away from stoplights. I drove it to 80,000 miles…traded it in at home in Ohio in 1976 after the Navy and bought a nearly useless Datsun B-210 because we were in a “family” way. What a mistake. Anyway…I’ll never forget that RX3. Note: I beat a 421 Bonneville from traffic light to traffic light down Camelback Rd. in Phoenix on New years Eve of 1972/1973….I was sober….the 421 driver was bewildered because he had no idea what a rotary engine was…and to have a car that looked like a Toyota Corolla beat him made him sorta’ mad. LOL ! Ahhhhh……the memories of now a “geezer”………..

  2. Too cool. Drove a first gen RX7 back in the day (step dad’s buddy); tail happy wailer that you could greet others by “blinking” the hidden headlights with a up/down switch. Wonderful lil car; too bad the rotor seal tech wasn’t up to the rest.
    Never seen a Cosmo in real life, nice bit of space age stuff, tho’.

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