It was my first “proper” car after driving a couple of junks that were not not much younger than I – the Mazda 323 Hatchback. The two-box design was all the rave in the late 70s/early 80s, and I thought it would put the “unexciting” me into the chic league!
It claimed to be miserly on fuel, with 40mpg, but I soon found out that Mazda had simply put a gearbox that was in overdrive. If one went around corners at below 20mph on 3rd gear, the whole car would shudder. I had to insert pieces of sponge here and there to overcome the vibrations.
Many sweet memories though. It was the car in which I took my first girlfriend for a date, … and drove with her all over Malaysia,…until we got married. Gave it to my sister, when we migrated to Singapore.
So goes the saying. Indeed. And it went on for half-a-century.
The Wankel rotary engine promised to put an end to the Ups-and-Downs experienced by conventional piston engines. In reality, the Dream was also a Nightmare, posing tremendous, if not insurmountable problems for engineers.
In the early 1960s, Mazda took on the Wankel, and went on to develop a fully working engine which debuted in the Cosmo model of 1967. The rotary engine was powerful, smooth, and free-revving. However, issues with rotor sealing resulting in high fuel consumption and dirty emissions continued to impose serious constraints on its acceptability especially in an age of rising concerns with Global Warming.
The last Mazda model, RX-8, saw its final production in 2012. But research is still ongoing on a future ‘clean’ version. Hopefully, it will go round and round more happily the next time.