BF AUCTION: 1973 Mazda RX-4 Wagon

SOLD!

UPDATE 10/8/2020 – Shortly after this auction ended, we were able to help work a deal between the seller and the high bidder, GarritR! It turns out that the buyer lives just a few miles away from the seller, so Garrit is going to be picking the car up in person. We want to congratulate and thank both Bud and Garrit! And we hope that Garrit will keep us posted on his progress.

Mazda has a long history of building truly unique vehicles, dating back to their first car the R360. They are also one of the few manufacturers to have actually put the unique Wankel rotary engine into production. While most of us associate the rotary engine with Mazda’s RX-7 sports car, they put rotaries in a variety of vehicles ranging from pickups to station wagons. Finding an RX-7 isn’t much of a challenge, but finding one of its rotary-powered siblings can be a real challenge these days, especially one of these RX-4 Wagons! This example was recently pulled from a barn in Wisconsin and is now being offered here as a Barn Finds Auction. If you’d love to have this rarity, you can find it in Green Bay, Wisconsin and you can leave your high bid below.

The rotary engine is a brilliant idea, at least in theory. Rather than generating power via reciprocating pistons, the rotary makes use of a Reuleaux triangular rotor mounted on an eccentric shaft inside an oval-shaped housing. The tips of the rotor act as seals (apex seals), with the sides forming three combustion chambers. This allows for three power pulses per revolution of the rotor, unlike a 4-stroke piston engine which produces one power pulse for every two rotations of the crank. The lack of valves and reciprocating parts makes for an incredibly smooth running engine that can spin to very high RPMs. It also means that a compact 1.3-liter rotary engine can potentially produce the same kind of power as a 6-cylinder piston engine, all while weighing a fraction of said engine. Unfortunately, they aren’t terribly efficient and weren’t known for their longevity. That isn’t much of an issue with this one, as it’s original engine is long gone.

In their domestic market, the RX-4 was known as the Luce, which is Italian for light. The name is actually quite fitting, as these were surprisingly light for their size. While not as large as an American wagon, with a curb weight around 2,500 pounds and plenty of room for the whole family, it offered decent performance. The 13B that would have originally been under the hood produced 110 horsepower and 117 ft-lb of torque, which allowed for a 0 to 60 time in under 12 seconds. That might not be sports car level performance, but there weren’t many wagons in this price category that could get there any quicker. There were more than a few drag racers out there that saw the potential that the RX-4 had to offer, either with a turbocharged rotary engine or with a V8 swap. Since it used the same 13B engine that was used in the RX-7, finding a replacement rotary wouldn’t be impossible, although it would certainly be easier to find a piston engine for it.

The interior is in need of some attention, but actually appears to be quite complete, minus the shifter of course. The seats are showing some split seams, the dash has some cracks, and everything needs a deep cleaning, but it’s nice enough that you could reuse most of the interior. Finding interior parts for these can be a bit of a challenge, so having all of the original parts is a huge plus that makes this a realistic project.

There are some rust issues that will need to be dealt with, but it appears the worst spots have been treated to slow the rust progress. Structurally, it looks to be quite solid and the seller notes that the door bottoms are in nice shape. Finding replacement panels could be a challenge, but there aren’t many compound curves here so you could easily make patch panels to fix the worst of the rust.

From the seller:

  • 1973 Mazda Rx4 wagon, but titled as a 1974
  • Clean Wisconsin title
  • Roller, no engine or transmission
  • Have the driveshaft, oil cooler, coils, radiator, resonator and trans cross-member.
  • Interior, complete needs seam stitching and needs one panel replaced on the back seat and some repair on the drivers seat (see pictures)
  • Has all glass, windows work, doors and hatch work.– some fogging at the side and bottom of the windshield ( see Pictures)
  • Dash has cracks but has a cover (see pics)
  • Carpet is good front and rear
  • Has Mazda RX7 wheels
  • Few rust through spots and some surface rust on body (see pics)
  • Underside has surface rust but no holes
  • One small dent in rear bumper
  • Minor parking lot dents in front fenders
  • Stored inside for years
  • Overall good shape for year

The seller purchased this car from their friend’s barn, so if you have questions about the car’s history, I’m sure they can get you an answer. It’s definitely a project, but it sure would be an amazing car to save! As a fan of the rotary engine, I would want to find a 13B to reinstall in it, but the 1.8 liter 4-cylinder that’s found in Mazda’s B1800 pickup will bolt right in and would be a cheaper/easier option. Of course, a turbocharged rotary would make for the wildest option, at least in my book! It seems like it could be a good drag car candidate or even to build into a unique street machine. So, if you’d love to give this rare Mazda a good home, be sure to bid. And, if you have any questions for the seller, please leave them in the comments below or email us at mail@barnfinds.com.

  • Location: Green Bay, WI
  • Mileage: 77,000
  • VIN: LA23W100139
  • Title: Clean

*Sold for $3,200

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Jon G.

    My mom had one of these in blue. The rotary had given up, so it got a 20R Toyota engine and transmission. We called it the Mazyota. Drove it forever and still sold it for $500.

    Like 8
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      My mom had a blue one too! My Dad, a mechanical engineer, always liked unique cars, so he thought a rotary automatic wagon would be a good choice.
      He got it when it was about 4 years old and was the car I got to drive when I first got my driver’s license.
      Other than scraping up the money to keep gas in the tank from my friends, I recall that it was a fun ride and didn’t care that it was a wagon, just glad to have something to drive.

      Like 4
  2. David G

    I had a ’74 RX-4 wagon in the early ’80s. Great car, just wish it had a manual transmission. Not clear from the photos provided if this one was manual or automatic. Tempted to bid on this one, but shipping is much costlier on cars that do not run.

    Like 1
    • Viking

      Manual — have crossmember

      Like 2
  3. bone

    Very clean for a 70s asian import ; it does look like someone purchased this car recently and pulled the engine for a different car.

    Like 1
    • Viking

      No, I have owned it for over 5 years— bought it from a friend who had owned it for about 3 or 4 —interesting story about engine and trans. but they were stolen about a week before I got the car—

      Like 1
      • Will Greening

        Keen to buy this project , my email is sarahandwill@xtra.co.nz, kind regards Will

        Like 1
  4. CJinSD

    In the USA, I believe only the GSL-SE models of the first generation RX-7 had the 13B engine. The rest had 12As so they could be homologated into GTU racing.

    Like 2
    • Don

      Yes, i believe the 84-85 SE was the first RX-7 to have the 13A engine.

      Like 1
      • Don

        13B engine.

        Like 1
    • JMB#7

      1984–1985 RX-7 GSL-SE used the 13B. I cannot say if it was the entire 1984 model year, but for certain 1985.

      Like 1
  5. Kenny

    It’s a 1974 not a ‘73. In spite of whatever the production date says Rx4’s didn’t come to the US till ‘74 model year. ALL Rx4’s had a carbureted 13b. I serviced Mazdas for 30 years. I know these cars like the back of my hand. I also know it’s possible to build a 200,000 mile engine for one, using a mixture of 12a Rx7 and 13b GSL-SE engine parts. They can also be built to be very fast!

    Like 6
    • Viking

      Your right– titled as a 74

      Like 2
      • Suzuki350

        Why do you delete so many comments?

    • Chuck C.

      EXACTLY,Ken. I was very fortunate to be one of the first Mazda Rotary Engine factory trained technicians in New York City. We started our training in the fall of 1972. It was a terrific experience as I was 19 at the time………….As I said,exactly,Ken. The first year for the RX-4 was 1974……..It was so sad when they fazed out the rotary engine. When properly cared for,they were FABULOUS.

      Like 1
  6. I know

    Trans and engine were stolen and sold for scrap. Thats sickening. U will never find those parts. Non existent.

    • Viking

      Scap? Not likely— as for engines and transmissions they are available—

      Like 1
  7. XJSLord

    Super tempting.
    I would be all over this if I wasn’t currently at University…

  8. Terry Bowman

    I had a RX-2 (12A) one distributor, Sedan(it had a photo of a rotor on the side of the car) and a RX-3 (13B) two distributors wagon. Both were blue. The 12A was the fastest of the two, but don’t let them over heat. Lost both that way. They were quick from a roll, but with their 4bbl carbs, they had a bog from a dead start.

  9. JMB#7

    1973-1974 would have been a transition between the 12A and 13B engine. If it is indeed a US market 1973 RX-4, then it likely had the 12A. The 12A is a great motor, but there were improvements along the way, and you would want one of the later versions. Parts are available for both, but the 13B has a much bigger market to pick from. Longevity also improved much after 1974. My experience is that Rotaries in the late ’70s & ’80s are every bit as durable as a piston engine. Also fuel economy per fun factor is equal or better for the same era. Looks like a solid car, I hope a Rotary finds its way back into it.

    Like 1
    • Viking

      Be great basis for a drag car–

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.