Pocket Rocket Pickup: 1974 Mazda REPU

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While Dodge’s SRT division and the Raptor-ized F150 from Ford may get all the credit for building hot-rod pickups, Mazda dipped its toe in the pool of pumped-up haulers with its REPU, or Rotary Engine Pick Up. Damn near impossible to find today, especially with its four-port 1.3-liter 13B four-barrel carbureted engine still attached, this honest ’74 example here on craigslist looks like tons of fun – but it’s not going to come cheaply, as the seller in Orange County, California is asking a cool $10,000. 

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Now, I know some of you are already balking at the price tag, but consider this: only about 15,000 were built, and the Rotary-powered truck had a short production cycle in the U.S. Most were sold along the West Coast, and given the frequency with which Japanese tin tends to rust, many have long since disappeared from circulation. Of the ones I spotted on craigslist, several were quite rusty, another was missing the desirable Wankel motor – you get the point. Finding one that isn’t a rust bucket with its original motor is a solid find  and justifies a fair price, in my opinion.

1974 Mazda Rotary Engine

In addition to the unusual engine, the REPU was also made more distinctive via its unique nose, round tail lights, flared fenders, different dashboard and a battery mounted below the bed. Frankly, the more you learn about the REPU, the more it seems like it was trying to be a quasi-SCCA race car built into a short-bed pickup body! In fact, the Mazda did enjoy some success on the racing circuit, being campaigned in events like the Mojave 24 Hour Rally. It may not be the fastest truck around, but like most rotaries, they rev to high heaven and can tolerate lots of abuse.

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The seller claims he has owned it for several years, effectively saving it for reasons unknown after buying it from the original owner. This REPU looks like an excellent candidate for restoration, especially since rust appears to be minimal and it retains all of the features that set this truck apart from its more plebeian siblings. A Wankel-powered pickup will be a welcome entrant to Japanese car days and Cars & Coffee events worldwide, and it’s just as at home on the autocross course. For a versatile classic you can use, this one starts to make a lot of sense. Have you ever driven a 13B pickup?

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Comments

  1. Mikey

    “saving it” the worst thing this guy could have done is not drive this for years the apex seal are most likely all dried up and would require and over haul at a very high expense that being what most have had other engines installed though it would be a nice piece of history to have complete like it is

  2. JACKinNWPA Jack in NWPA Member

    Olds Toronado 455 in the back.Roadkill style!

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      HA! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

      Like 1
    • DAN

      remember
      10sec truck,lol

      Like 1
  3. angliagt

    $10,000???? If it were in perfect shape – maybe.
    I always wanted to replace the “P” with an “M” on the tailgate
    of one of these.

  4. Oingo

    Friend’ uncle had one. 76-80 we worked for him on weekends doing commercial carpet cleaning. Even with three of us and several hundred pounds of equipment it would leave most cars of the day behind at launch.

  5. Alan Brase

    The local Mazda dealer had a late one (1977, maybe?) left over for a few years back in 1979.
    This was just the beginning of the time dealers were starting to use women sales people. The sales woman decided she had to go with me. I was pretty used to driving muscle cars, 396 Camaros, etc. The rotary pickup with a 5 speed was a bit light on the rear, but I had no difficulty keeping it pointed in the right direction, though using more than 1 lane! I scared the s*** out of her. Fun car. Pass anything but a gas station.
    Al

  6. Andy Frobig

    In 1985 I had an RX-4 for six months. It had all the issues you hear about with old rotaries, and among others, it would backfire off throttle and shoot flame. Very cool! Well, at the end of that summer I sold it for scrap and went off to college in Fairbanks, AK. One night that winter (it could have been mid October, more or less the same thing) I was walking across campus and I heard an engine revving. I looked toward the sound and saw the silhouette of a small truck, then saw a flash under it followed by a loud pop. I thought to myself, “I bet that’s a Mazda Rotary!” Sure enough, I walked past it in daylight later, and it was.

  7. Howard A Member

    I always thought, of all the mini pickups, the Mazda was the nicest one. I could never get past the rotary, however. Don’t get me wrong, I think the rotary is an awesome motor, it’s just a piston motor is so much more civilized. Does anybody know if you could even get one of these with a piston engine? I test drove a RX-4 when they came out, and boy howdy, that car went pretty good, but like Andy said, it back-fired( brand new, mind you) and a cloud of smoke on start up. I’m sure just about everyone here has in their mind what kind of re-power they’d go with here. Even though I don’t care for them,a V-6 would probably be the way to go. Be a fun truck. I’d love to have it.

  8. DAN

    save for later
    that is code talk
    he means I bought it for $500
    and had no more $$$$ to fix it up
    so I’ll sell it for $10k
    LOL

    Like 1
  9. angliagt

    These only came with rotarys.
    I remember the first time I saw one,new.
    I was driving down the highway,when it
    came up behind me.I was thinking “What’s that?”,
    then when it passed me,I read the lettering
    on the tailgate.I also remember the huge (at-
    that time,tires on that thing.

  10. Ray R

    Had bought one a 1975 had 300 miles for $3200 . Was the fastest car/ truck I ever owned made some cash going light to light while cruising in So Cal . Had 2-90lb bags of concrete in the bed under my tarp to keep it on the ground and 18” tires on the back with 6” up front . It would scream surprised a lot of people . The gas crunch of 78 took its toll on a lot of the gas gusling and sold it in 79

    Like 1

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