Showing posts with label 1960s Japanese Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1960s Japanese Cars. Show all posts

Mazda Cosmo

Mazda Cosmo 1960s Japanese classic sports car

The Mazda Cosmo was the first rotary-engined production car. Dr Felix Wankel's motor was sewing-machine smooth. It was flexible, too. Compromising a tad on top-end power, Mazda put the peripheral inlet ports in the engine casing. That gave more low-down torque. It also provided seamless idling and improved low-speed fuel economy. Not that the upper end of the rev range was ignored! The Cosmo's 116mph top speed testified to that. The twin-rotary motor produced 110bhp. Capacity was 2,000cc. The Cosmo came with an efficient power-to-weight ratio. Its gearbox was 4-speed manual - connected to a DeDion rear axle. Revs maxed out at 7,000rpm. The B model Cosmo, released in '68, delivered 125mph - from 128bhp.

Sports car that it was, the Cosmo handled well. Its DeDion rear suspension set-up was complemented by front wishbones. Steering was agile. The ride was firm. Brakes were out of the top drawer - discs fore, drums aft. The B grew a longer wheelbase. It also came with a closer-ratio 5-speed transmission. Just 1,176 Cosmos were built - between '66 and '72. That implied that - for Mazda - the Cosmo was more of a work-in-progress, than a short-term grab at the big yen. That would come later - in the more lucrative form of saloon cars.

Styling-wise, the Cosmo sought to emulate European sports cars. Its front headlights, for instance, were straight out of the E-Type Jag school of design. To be fair, the rear light set-up was more radical. The bumper split its upper and lower sections. In motor manufacture terms, Mazda continued to take the rotary route. The high-grossing RX7 rewarded their faith. The Mazda Cosmo, then, was the rotary-powered template for one of the top Japanese sports cars!

Toyota 2000GT

Toyota 2000GT 1960s Japanese classic sports car

The Toyota 2000GT was designed by Graf Goertz - an industrial design firm, based in New York. The GT's styling was clearly influenced by the Jaguar E-Type. The lines of its bodywork were off-the-dial subtle. That was a mixed blessing. While immensely pleasing on the eye, manufacturing costs soared. Just 337 GTs would be built. As a result, the car is now highly sought-after. To be fair, the GT was intended to be a loss leader. That said, Toyota did not intend the losses to be as large as they became. For all that, when the 2000GT prototype appeared - at the '65 Tokyo Show - Toyota's brand-image sky-rocketed!

The 2000GT's speed matched its staggering good looks. A twin-cam straight-six engine developed 150bhp. Top whack was 135mph. The motor's hemi-head set-up featured straight-through ports - and large valves. Suffice to say, it took deep breaths! On the inlet side were two double-throated Mikuni/Solex carbs. The engine was connected to a five-speed gearbox. Mercifully, high-grade disc brakes were fitted all round. The backbone chassis came with a full set of wishbones. Options for the final drive ratio were duly provided.

Crucially, the 2000GT failed to crack the States. A mere 63 American drivers saw fit to buy one. That was due, in large part, to its relatively high price tag. It far exceeded that of both the Porsche 911 and, indeed, E-Type Jag. In a desperate bid to placate the American market, Toyota went on to produce no less than nine more versions of the GT. To a car, they were more conservatively turned out than the original. As a bonus, they came complete with air conditioning and optional auto transmission. To no avail - as US sales continued to stagnate. Nonetheless, the Toyota 2000GT - along with the Datsun 240Z - were the strongest of signals to the sports car world that the Japanese were coming!