It was the rotary engine that made Mazda famous the world over. This type of engine has equipped some of the most famous sports cars in history, such as the famous RX-7, and first saw the light of day in the 1960s.

In fact, one of the very first cars equipped with a rotary engine was the 802 Cosmo, a very special concept presented at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1963.

Birth

At the Japanese show, Kenichi Yamamoto, the 'father' of Mazda's rotary engine, presented his creation to fans and the press. It was a compact coupé just over 4 metres long, equipped with the Wankel engine known internally as the 8A.

Mazda 802 Prototype (1963)

Mazda 802 Prototype (1963)

Following the Tokyo presentation, Mazda began work on a small production run of 60 examples, most of which were made available to Japanese dealers as test cars. Each model was built entirely by hand, at the rate of one per day, and quickly received extremely positive reactions from the public.

The Wankel legacy

The positive response to the 802 encouraged Mazda to put its faith in the project and start series production in 1967. The first generation, called the L10A, used the 0810 Wankel twin-rotor engine, with a displacement of 998cc and 110 PS.

Mazda 802 Prototype (1963)

Mazda 802 Prototype (1963)

The L10A is also fitted with a Hitachi four-barrel carburettor and a four-speed gearbox. Performance is good, with a top speed of 115 mph and a standing distance of 400 metres covered in 16.4 seconds.

Sold in 343 units until 1972, the Cosmo was then renewed for four more generations until 1995.

Gallery: Mazda 802 Prototype (1963)