1967 Cosmo 110S Sport
The Mazda 110S – the world's first volume production sports car powered by a rotary engine was unveiled to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1963. When the president of Mazda, Tsuneji Matsuda, drove the prototype at the show venue it was a surprise to everyone. The Mazda 110S featured beautiful, futuristic proportions and exceptional driving performance. It was a vehicle that clearly deserved the comment, "More like flying than driving".
The rotary engine a history of challenges
Rotary engine development began at Mazda in 1961, and for the next six years presented nothing but problems and setbacks. The most serious of which was the appearance of chatter marks on the inner walls of the rotor housing. These marks were known to Mazda engineers as "nail marks of the Devil" and always appeared after a certain period of operation. After many trials, the engineers finally conquered this difficult problem by developing seals made of high-strength carbon infused with aluminum, and the Mazda rotary engine was born. As other automakers steadily abandoned the rotary engine, Mazda became the only car company in the world to succeed in its practical application. The Mazda 110S was born from Mazda's tenacity and passion for rotary engine development.
Reaping the benefits of the rotary engine
The Mazda 110S was formally announced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1964. Thereafter, Mazda engineers continued to work on quality and durability improvements to produce a more refined performance. After completion of the company's third automobile proving ground in June 1965, Mazda carried out continuous high-speed endurance tests, covering a total test-drive distance of 700,000 kilometers from the time development began.
The Mazda 110S was eventually launched on May 30, 1967. It was a real breakthrough for sports cars, reaping the benefits of a rotary engine with 491cc x 2 capacity, maximum power of 110PS, top speed of 185 km/h, acceleration from a standing start to 400 meters in 16.3 seconds and low, flowing styling. At the time, the Mazda 110S was the only sports car of its kind, and sold around 30 units per month. Mazda entered the Mazda 110S in many international races, where it enjoyed considerable success.
It is now 40 years since the Mazda 110S was launched. The passion that created Mazda's history of rotary engine cars that started with the Mazda 110S remains alive and well to this day.
With the 1967 Cosmo 110S, Mazda beat NSU into production with a twin-rotary Wankel-powered production car by just a few weeks. Futuristic looking and rather swish - like the Ro80 - the Cosmo was designed from the ground upwards to take this new engine. Capacity was equivalent to about two litres with an output of 110 bhp at 7000 rpm. Rather than using peripheral ports for maximum power, Mazda placed the inlet ports in the casing in a quest for stronger low-down torque, idling smoothness and improved low speed fuel consumption. In most other respects, the 110S was a conventional luxury sports coupe that handled well and was fairly quick. Top speed was 116 mph with 60 mph coming up in about 10 seconds, and it revved to 7000 rpm in the usual smooth, vibration-free Wankel fashion. Built until 1972, the Cosmo changed little, gaining a closer-ratio five-speed gearbox, a longer wheelbase and a bit more power - 128 bhp - on the 1968 'B' model. The Cosmo name lived on in a series of rather more conventional-looking saloon-based coupes, and survives to this day on Mazda's high-tech luxury flagship. The original is now one of the most collectible Japanese classics.