It’s said Yamamoto wasn’t entirely convinced of the rotary’s viability, but was quick to acknowledge it had enjoyed only a fraction of the attention devoted to piston engines.
The production version of this low-slung, dart-shaped Cosmo Sports coupe would take another three years – after comprehensive testing of 80 prototypes, 60 of them in customer hands.
But in 1961, a Mazda technical research team arrived at NSU in Neckarsulm, north of Stuttgart.
Disturbingly, they saw 250cc single-rotor engines seizing on the test bed.
The Cosmo’s compact but adequately roomy cockpit sings of the 1960s, with a wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel framing a central tacho redlined at 7000rpm.
The little 10A engine is so light, crisp and linear in its delivery that it feels more like a spring-wound or turbine-driven device.
The steering wheel almost rests on my thighs and, despite a narrow transmission tunnel, the pedals are inexplicably offset to the right.