First US Market Mazda Rotary: 1970 Mazda R100

When it comes to rare Japanese classic cars, some are uncommon and difficult to find, but others are just plain scarce like this Mazda R100. The R100 is a special vehicle, as it was the first rotary powered Mazda to be sold in America. Very scarce and difficult to find, this craigslist ad almost reads like a fairy tale. The seller explains that he has a wankel sitting out back that hasn’t “ran in years.” What is astonishing is that this rare grandfather to the US market rotary scene is offered for a mere $500!!! Classic Japanese car fans and wankel fans line up, as there is going to be a battle to attain this elusive machine! Check it out here on craigslist out of Freeport, Illinois.

Beneath the hood is a 1.0l 10A two rotor engine. Obviously left alone for quite a while, this engine bay isn’t too shabby for looking to have lived out doors. Rust is minimal, and there is still brake fluid in the brake master reservoir. So hopefully the brake system isn’t totally shot from sitting. There is no mention of the engines condition other than the fact that it ran a while back. The later model 12A engines are virtually indestructible, so hopefully this engine shares similar traits. I would hope that performing an all so common rotary ATF treatment and a few hand turns would awaken this 10A.

Inside there are a few parts stacked in the front seats, but overall this interior is very reasonable for a classic Japanese car. The very well laid out dash looks quite fair minus a crack or two. The red interior seems quite posh and stylish in this vintage Mazda. Overall the interior appears to be complete, and there certainly looks to be more than enough to work with for a restoration. Unfortunately there aren’t many photos of the body, but from what can be seen, this car definitely needs to be saved. The only real visible rot is in the door sills into the exterior rocker section. There does appear to be some minor exterior rust on the body, and maybe even some rust blisters around the rockers and rear wheel arches. Thankfully this is a two door variant, and really for the price this car is an absolute deal. I haven’t seen an R100 for sale in several years, but I certainly have never seen one this cheap and in this reasonable of a condition. Have you ever had the opportunity to see one of these rare rotary grandfathers?

Fast Finds


  1. Scotty Staff

    $500?! Brian, you’re killin’ me! This is one unbelievably rare car! Nice find, sir.

  2. Mercuryman

    The only car that is more Holy Grail​ to rotary fans is the original Cosmo. When I worked​ for Mazda they had a Cosmo at the Canadian headquarters. A beautiful little car with many styling innovation’s. The R100 for me is a much better car. Tiny but can still seat 4. I hope someone rescues this wonderful car.

    Like 2
  3. sparkster

    s o l d !

    • Scotty Staff

      Did you grab it, sparkster?! I bet they could have asked twice that after a couple of hours of cleaning it up a bit. It’s a heck of a find.

  4. Dutch 1960

    Expect to see it offered within a week with a zero added, at $5k. At $500, this was a flipper’s delight.

    Hard to believe what these are worth now, even in this condition. On the one hand, to accumulate the parts to get this one right would cost a mint. On the other hand, what this car has on it is also worth a mint, as parts. The grille alone, which appears in pretty good shape, with the U.S.-market-only round headlights, could easily go for way into four figures just by itself.

    There appears enough of it there, in good enough shape, for it to be put back together again, either as a driver or as the basis for a restoration. I really hope it doesn’t get parted out. Most of the really difficult to find bits are on it.

  5. Rx7turboII

    5 miles from my house and didn’t even call after I saw it posted a few days ago. My wife says I have a rotary collecting addiction so I passed. Hope someone makes good flipper coin on it!

  6. Andy

    You’d think that I would have learned from my high school RX-4, but I still have a soft spot for pre-7 rotaries. I hope this one gets fixed up, and not raced.

  7. angliagt

    I had a ’72,which was only sold in California that year.
    I used to be able to go into the local dealer,& order almost any-
    thing for it. I bought new emblems,etc. for it for cheap prices.
    I put a set of RX7 factory alloys on it,which really filled
    out the wheel wells.
    …..& I was thrilled when I got $1000 for it!

  8. Howard A Member

    Sorry, I just don’t see the enthusiasm with this. It’s a mess. I realize, rotaries have a strong, yet limited following. But to most, me included, wouldn’t touch a rotary powered vehicle with a ten foot pole. If they did, it would have to be nice, you’ve got to admit, this car is rough. Historically speaking, it does have some merit, for rotary followers, it would be quite a find. I know someone here, who is having a hard time finding parts for a fairly common Asian car, I’d have to think, parts for any vintage Mazda, like this, is going to be tough.

  9. whippeteer

    If I recall, the early ones had common problems with seals.

    • Pat A

      I don’t think they ever conquered that problem.

      • Mike H. Mike H

        They did, for the most part. What they couldn’t conquer were emissions and fuel economy; the rotary never was able to compete with piston engines on those two fronts.

  10. chad

    Two rotors under the hood?
    Can’t C in da pic, must B cramped in there?

  11. Pat A

    New a few guys in high school (1979 or so) that drove some early Mazdas. You always knew when they were coming from the backfiring. You couldn’t sneak up on anyone in them.

  12. Urquiola

    Mazda 10A and 12A Rotary Engine spare parts are very hard to find, Mazda no longer produces any, but besides this, the car is interesting

    • PMAC

      Parts are easy to find, provided you know where to look.

  13. Michael Machado

    I had one of these just out if high school in 1973. It was a fantastic little car.
    It had Ansen Sprint wheels with Daton raised white letter tires.

    The rear fender wheel lips were pulled out just enough to clear the wider rear tires.

    It was a smoking fast car.
    There was not one 289 powered Mustang
    In all of San Jose, CA that I came up against that did not go away with its tail between its legs.

    Like so many other cars that I should have kept, this one was a keeper. But young and dumb I guess…..oh well….

  14. Dickie F

    In the late 1960’s, a Mazda R100 was raced in South Africa by future 1972 World F1 champion Jody Scheckter.
    This may gave been a works car, as it was not being sold locally.

  15. Rolf Poncho 455

    Chad the starter is on top of the motor yes it’s small engine bay
    but the 10a rotary motor is just as small ill say 16 inches long?
    All to do is pull out that motor and replace it with a 13b and 5speed
    transmission.I love rotor motors only 3 moving parts so to say it’s
    the best engine ever developed just use the correct apex seals
    (power seals) and andliss fun in your POCKET ROCKET

  16. Urquiola

    That Wankel RCE solved the emissions issue is proven by the fact that it were allowed to sell, the withdrawal from EU of RX-8 was due to an issue of CO2 emissions, not directly toxic emissions, and it may have a connection to the taxation displacement of engine being considered below 2 liters.
    The core element in Wankel is oil, a wrong oil may stuck seals and ruin performance, see in next post the attached image of 2 old Yanmar Diesel charge cooled rotors after some time running with two different oils from the same oil producer.

    A Porsche 914 had only half a liter added gasoline use per 100 km with an NSU Ro 80 engine, that wasn’t as economical as Mazdas, than with the standard 6 cylinder Porsche motor, and the Rotary can work with no problem on the poorest gasolines available, 90 RON may be more than enough, this has industrial advantages

  17. Urquiola

    The Yanmar Diesel Rotor after two different Shell oils -SAE paper 720466

  18. Urquiola

    The comparative test of a Porsche 914 with the standard 6 cylinder engine and a manual Gearbox, versus another Porsche 914 with the NSU Ro80 2 liter two Rotor Wankel, water cooled housing, oil cooled rotor, and a three speed plus reverse semi-automatic transmission, a torque converter plus a stick electrically actuated clutch, was the idea of A Gerber, a Swiss industrial in Zurich, lover of sports cars.

    Transformation was conducted at the Franco Sbarro workshop.

    Autos had the plates: ZH-226426; and LB-SH 936, but I ignore which one had the NSU Wankel RCE inside.
    NSU Wankel had Peripheral Ports for intake and exhaust, while Mazda of the 70s had side intake ports and a peripheral exhaust port.

    Mazda Wankel, most were of a larger displacement than NSU Ro 80, gives a bit less power, a more ‘gentle’ torque curve at low rpm and low load, a more uniform idle, and perhaps were a bit more economical, while the NSU rotary engine top performance, specially above 3’000 rpm, was better.

  19. Urquiola

    This is Mazda Cosmo power and sfc chart from E McGovern

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