1975-1981 Mazda RX-5 / Cosmo AP
Production Period: 1975-1981
The RX-5, or Cosmo AP, was launched in 1975 and named after the very first rotary-powered Mazda Production car - the 110S Cosmo Sport. The RX-5 was sold in no less than 10 variants, and came wtih a choice of 12A and 13B twin-rotor engines and five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions. The Cosmo L, Landau top (soft top) version that appeared in 1977 was a Japanese first, but it was the worldwide exposure through the motion picture Red Cosmo that gave the car instant notoriety, and sparked a big interest in the Japanese performance car market from overseas countries.
Mazda’s first premium specialty car was named Cosmo AP after the first Mazda rotary-engine car, the Cosmo Sport. Designed with a strong American flavor, its two-door coupe styling and vertically-lined radiator grille was unconventional for a Japanese car. Highlighted by striking red body paint, the Cosmo AP immediately grabbed the spotlight when it went on sale. The Japanese fashionista and sophisticate, Keiko Usami, was hired to appear in the television commercials.
The Cosmo AP arrived in 1975, just after the first oil shock. In response to the austere times, it offered low fuel consumption and high performance. It was also the first vehicle to pass Japan’s 1976 exhaust emissions regulations. In recognition, the letters AP, meaning “anti-pollution,” were added to its name. Sales passed 20,000 units in less than six months, a high volume for a premium grade car. And in early 1976, just three months after its launch, the Cosmo AP was named Car of the Year in Japan. Winning this award in so short a time highlighted its outstanding product value. The Cosmo L was added to the lineup in 1977. Its leather-covered landau roof further emphasized the premium feel.