1973 Mazda RX-3: Rotary-Equipped


This 1973 Mazda RX-3 has been laid up following an engine rebuild and other updates after the seller got tied up in additional projects and knee surgeries. Listed here on eBay with a starting bid of $5,000 and no activity, these old-school Mazdas always catch my eye for being a bit different in an era when Japanese cars were selling themselves largely on fuel economy and little else. Plus, this is a bit of a rarity as most often the Rotary engine is associated with Mazda’s popular RX-7, not an early 70’s sedan! I do think the asking price is a touch high considering how long it has been idle, plus the seller’s description of “racing seats” and “spinning the tires” doesn’t give me much confidence. If the blue paint is actually original, consider me impressed. There’s a good amount of interest based on lots of questions being asked in the listing – but I think the price is keeping potential buyers from jumping into the action. What do you think it should be priced at?


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  1. Leon

    Looks like wheels are RX-7

  2. Dutch 1960

    It’s actually an RX2.

  3. Rick

    It was a nice looking car during a period where most Japanese cars looked Japanese from a mile away and got worse as you got closer.

  4. Cassidy

    Calif car, but its now in IL; wonder for how long its resided there?? Bizarre auction write up, he sold the wheels and tires before the auction was closed! What the heck??

  5. St.Ramone de V8

    Neat car. Early Rotary Mazdas were cool and different. A friend had an RX3 Coupe, and his dad had a red RX4. Fast and fun. They had their problems, but I think if there were more mechanics around to deal with them maybe their fate would have been different. Even a four door Rotary car would be great. The pickup truck with “Rotary Power” on the tailgate would really be a prize.

  6. Chris

    Nearly extinct in my suburb, and good riddance. 20-25 years ago you couldn’t go one day with out one these noisy,technical dead ends polluting my ears.

    That aside, the RX-2/Capella is a much prettier car than the RX3 & 4 that followed.

  7. mike d

    my dad owned a ’74 Rx4 ( new) , it had a red line warning chime, and he redlined it , they had many standard features that were options on American Made cars , or not available at all it had a manual choke, and would belch black smoke when first started was also expensive to repair being as we had only one Mazda dealer in our area at the time

  8. Tome

    Definitely an RX2, not 3. They could be made into good race cars in the early days of SCCA Improved Touring.

  9. JTNC

    Oh come on, it’s clearly an RX2 not an RX3! My brother had an RX2 coupe in this color. A fun car, definitely a couple of steps up in performance and sophistication from the typical econobox of the era. You could make flames come out of the exhaust pipe on the overrun, that was always fun. I disagree with comment BF.com made about Japanese cars of the era being sold on fuel economny “and little else.” Even before the 1973 fuel crisis there was a perception that Japanese cars were better screwed together than American cars, which I think was largely true even though the Japanese cars of the era were very prone to rust (but so were most cars including BMW and MBZ). In 1970 my parents owned a Toyota Corona Mk. II and a Chrysler Town & Country — the Toyota was certainly better built than the Chrysler. Both were pretty terrible by today’s standards.

    • St. Ramone de V8

      You mention “flames coming out of the exhaust on the over run”. Not sure what you mean, but i seem to remember a small second pipe by the muffler on these. I don’t know if this is where the shot came from, but we found that if we pulled the choke out fully, then floored it ( they had four barrels) then shut it down, it would make a sound like a shot gun. Underground parking was perfect! Is this the “over run”?

      • S124AB

        If you enlarged the exhaust to approx 3″ or more and added high flow mufflers , then after lifting off the pedal at high rpm, unburnt fuel mix ignited in the pipe often with sheets of flame from the exhaust.
        Still common on rotary race cars such as this RX-8.

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