Ro­tary Power

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car 1974 Mazda 808 Coupe -

Although the 808 with its re­cip­ro­cat­ing pis­ton en­gine proved popular, most in­ter­est in the model was prob­a­bly fo­cused on the ro­tary-en­gine vari­a­tion. Ti­tled ‘Sa­vanna’ in Ja­pan, this ver­sion is more pop­u­larly known as the RX-3 and, like the 808, was avail­able in ei­ther coupé, sedan or sta­tion-wagon form. Most early ex­am­ples were fit­ted with Mazda’s 10A ro­tary en­gine, although some mar­kets re­ceived 12A-pow­ered ver­sion. The S102 cars were built be­tween 1971 and 1973, with the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion RX-3 pro­duced be­tween 1973 and 1975. A third se­ries RX-3 be­came avail­able in 1976 but was never avail­able in New Zealand, all mod­els be­ing des­tined for the US and Ja­pan. The RX-3, at that time the sporti­est of Mazda’s Wankel-en­gined cars, bowed out in 1978 to make way for the new RX-7.

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