REPU Project: 1974 Mazda Rotary Pickup

Rare, REPU Rotary – try saying that ten times in a row. This rare 1974 Mazda Rotary Pickup is listed on eBay in Hanford, California with a current bid price of $4,700 and the reserve isn’t met. I know, these trucks are not cheap!

REPU is the standard term for a rotary-engine Pickup, which Mazda certainly had the lock on. Most of us lament that there aren’t any small pickups made today. The ones that are around are huge by yesterday’s standards but this truck doesn’t have a half-dozen airbags and latte holders and bluetooth deals and yadda-yadda..  Give me a small pickup any day, preferably one with a rotary engine! That would be Mazda’s realm of expertise.

The company offered a rotary-powered pickup from 1974 to 1977 and they’re very rare and very valuable today. Nice examples can easily top $10,000-$15,000 or more depending on condition. This truck appears to be in surprisingly good condition, rust-wise. The seller says, “Some patchy surface rust in places, no rot.” They “Purchased from the original owner, with original sales receipt, owner’s manual, and service history.”

Well, I have definitely seen worse interiors that’s for sure, but maybe not many this puffy. I’m afraid to see what condition the top of the padded dash is in, but anything can be fixed, or almost anything. Anything, if you’re Jay Leno or the Sultan of Brunei. That is one of the coolest steering wheels that I have ever seen. Period. Here is a YouTube video showing a similar but much nicer and slightly-modified REPU driving from Seattle down to California and back to Minnesota. Livin’ the dream. For a guy who drives 40,000+ miles a year I have yet to buy a car in another state and drive it home.

Here’s where ____ gets real – look at this dusty, probably-rodent-filled engine. Dang. Things were looking ok up to this point. Never having owned a rotary anything other than a yo-yo I would have no idea how to tear into this one to trouble-shoot it. This is Mazda’s 13B, 1.3L rotary with around 110 hp. I can’t imagine that the seller’s reserve is too far off from the current $4,700 bid price given the amount of work that this truck needs to be pristine again. Have any of you owned a Mazda rotary pickup, or any Mazda rotary from the 1970s? If so, I’m jealous.

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  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    Oy, what a mess. Actually, one of the nicest styled mini-trucks of the era, I thought. I suppose is still better than the 2 or 3 we saw in the midwest, and those rusted faster than bare metal in an ocean. Rotary motor does nothing for me, ( and I wasn’t alone), I’d give this person $100 bucks, make a boat anchor out of the engine and drop a 4.3 Chevy in it.

    • Navi318

      I once had a 75 Toyota Corolla SR5 that a guy was dying to trade me for one of these REPU’s. Thing about Rotary engines is you can yank em out, rebuild them, put them back in and fire it up in a day!

  2. Andrew Ucker

    I owned an 85 RX-7 GSL-SE it was handed down from my mother. I sold it to a friend regretfully. It was a ast little car. It has a 13b motor w 135hp. Quick for weighing only 2300lbs

  3. edh

    Drop a 455 Olds and trans axial out of a Tornado in the bed an be done.

  4. chad Member

    rotary kicks it up a lill beyond the orig wankel. Still – R any made 2day? There’s ur answer.
    Great race motor, early/quick p o w e r ! imagine a turbo like spool-up…

  5. Jimmy

    And to top it off it is a propane conversion, and I imagine it works well with a rotary style engine as you don’t have to worry about adding in hardened valve seats!

  6. Cadmanls Member

    Great little motor, just dirty by today’s air standards. Had more than a couple of them, early 12a in an RX7 had 175 K on it and still ran great. As they had to clean them up seemed the longevity was the price. 13B motors went about 150K in 2nd gen RX7. My 3rd gen RX7 went 100K but was a hoot to drive. Twin turbos working in sequence. Poor RX8 had leanest of all and people buying them didn’t seem to know rotary’s inject motor oil in the combustion chamber for lubrication of the Apex seals. Strong 13b in there would be fun truck.

    • Loco Mikado

      I drove my sisters RX-7 a few times. The engine was doggy until about 3,000 rpm’s, beyond that it really woke up. 3-7,000 rpm was the power band, they loved to rev. About like my ’69 Toyota Corolla 1100 engine, it loved to rev too and had about the same power band only less power.

  7. Derek

    Rotaries are great. It’s like driving a really smooth straight 6, and if you fit a free-flow exhaust you get this amazing exhaust note. Cannae describe it.

    There’s no room for a V8 in it anyway; it’s quite wee.

  8. Winston Smith

    Had a twin to this truck for many years while I was working as Mazda wrench and later working for manufacturer.
    Great to drive, tremendous powerplant (mine got a bit smokie toward the end of my ownership. Oil seals were the issue on ’74-later RE, not water seals as on earlier engines–and certainly not apex seals.)
    If anyone’s interested, it’s sitting in a field somewhere near Belton, MO.
    Ran-When-Parked (1987!)

    • Mikel7829

      Somebody has a thing for hubcaps….

    • TimNewland

      I know this is an old post but is it still near belton? Im in kc and looking around for one of these.

  9. DAN

    SOLD A MUCH NICER ONE 15 YEARS AGO FOR $500,RUST FREE CALIF TRUCK TOO……..WAS ALL i COULD GET THEN damn $$$ have changed on all cars/pu’s

  10. rustylink

    So rare that finding parts might be a challenge. That’s a lot of dough for a NON RUNR REPU. This project would likely be better with a swap for a new 3 rotor motor.

  11. Flash

    Can someone give a little more info on what the rotary motor is exactly?

    • Beatlepat

      In WWI, rotary meant that the crankshaft was fixed solidly to the frame of the plane, the prop was bolted to the front of the engine, and the pistons spun around. Hope that helps!

      • Shaun

        You’re thinking a Radial engine, not Rotary.

    • Derek

      You have a sort of triangular-with-rounded-sides “piston” that waltzes around a sort-of figure-8 shape. The crankshaft goes through the middle of it (except that it looks more like a big camshaft with round lobes). It’s a 4-stroke but has ports like a 2-stroke. Mazda used 2 spark plugs per chamber beccuse the combustion shape on compression is very long and flat. Piston seals in 3 directions; to the combustion chamber segment in which it sits, and also to each side.

      Ask the interweb; it’s likely to make more sense than me!

  12. Beatlepat

    Back in high school late ’70s, early ’80s, some guys has these, and various RX 2’s, RX 4’s, etc. You’d hear them coming from miles away from the backfiring. Zing, KAPOW, zing KAPOW! Good days.

  13. motodog

    “Beatlepat” – That is the description of a radial engine. “Flash” you would be better off to do a google search of the rotary engine for an accurate description.

    • Beatlepat

      Wrong. A radial engine the pistons are fixed, the crankshaft spins, the prop is fixed to the crankshaft, basically. Read any description of a WWII RADIAL engine, such as used in the B25, B29, B17, Corsair, and many, many other planes.

      • Wayne King

        How about this radial/rotating engine?
        The crankshaft is mounted to the frame. The engine and propellor spin.

  14. Miguel

    I really wonder who is bidding that much for an extreme fixer upper?

    Maybe it is somebody that has never had one and has heard stories about them.

  15. austin

    I always thought these were neat little trucks,tried my hardest to find one ! wound up with a 70 datsun,loved it but momma said it was not safe to haul the kiddo around … i replaced it with a bugeye sprite(needless to say that went over like a fart in church) love little trucks there so neat.

  16. Royal

    Sadly mine is rotting into the ground. If this has solid sheetmetal, it is worth about 3K. One thing is certain, this will need a full ground up restoration.

  17. TBAU Member

    Another car I’d never heard of until today. Thank you Barnfinds.

  18. JazzGuitarist54

    Had a friend who owned a Mazda Cosmo with a Rotary engine, went through 3 engines in two years.
    Dealer said the rotors were warping due to temp extremes in Colorado
    It was a major issue in this climate per the dealer
    She loved the car but needed something more dependable, traded it

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