NEW! Award 37: 1973 Mazda RX-2 – Sold?

Apr 2020 | Classifinds, Free For All Friday, NEW Award

Update: This one got away, but if you have your heart set on something similar, email us the details of what you’re looking for or call Rudy directly at (908)295-7330

The Mazda Rx-2 Rotary Coupe, known outside of the U.S. as the Capella, is a rare yet somewhat desired coupe as it came equipped with a rotary engine.  Rare when new, examples such as this restomod listed in April 2020 on Craigslist in Rockaway, New Jersey rarely come up for sale. So rare are RX-2’s that even Bring A Trailer , the site that you would likely find the most examples sold, only lists one and that dates back to December 2016 when it sold for $11,500.  Hagerty Insurance’s online valuation tool doesn’t list the car and the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool currently lists its “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range at an inaccurate out-of-touch level of only $775, $1,125, and $1,625, respectively.  Even other recent dealer listings having asking prices below thirty grand.  So, despite our limited pricing benchmarks, the asking price of $33,000 seems way too optimistic, and for that reason, we’re awarding the seller our latest NEW! (short for “No Effin Way!”) Award.

Despite its rarity, automotive journalists to this day rave about what a competent sports sedan the RX-2 Rotary Coupe was.  This Motor Trend Road Test from 2010 points out all the reasons why.  As good as the RX-2 was, the compact size combined with horrible gas mileage (we’re talking under 15mpg!) just as the Arab Oil Embargo hit doomed this car from gaining any traction in the U.S. when new.

Here’s an excerpt from the “Great Cars of Mazda” section of the company’s website:

Mazda launched the first-generation Capella, in May 1970. It was available in two configurations — a two-door coupe and four-door sedan. It also had two engine options — the newly developed 12A two-rotor rotary engine and a 1,600cc reciprocating engine.
With the Capella, Mazda aimed to surpass the manufacturing capabilities of Volkswagen and, to do so, put together a project team of 300 personnel. The use of aerodynamic analysis gave the Capella jet fighter-like sporty and dynamic performance combined with a stylish and fantastic appearance. The design was truly inspired by jet fighters: its front grille had a sharp, horizontal hexagonal shape that resembled a jet air duct.
The first-generation Capella took the world by storm with its outstanding power and innovative design. It became affectionately known to its many fans as ‘Kaze no Capella’ (Capella, the wind). Mazda introduced a rotary engine version with an automatic transmission (RE Matic) in October 1971.

This video by YouTube Channel Petrolicious provides perspective on what these little Rotary-powered cars sound like at speed:

Apparently, as is typical with these cars, the original Wankel power plant has been replaced with a more modern and serviceable 13B turbocharged engine from a 1990 RX7.  Interestingly, the original rear axle has been upgraded with a stout Ford 9” unit.  If you’re a Mazda rotary fan and have the negotiation skills to obtain this car under $30K, this could make a nice addition to your garage.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1973 Mazda rx2. New 1990 13b turbo 2 engine built by goopy performance. Microtech computer,aerospace brakes, Ford 9inch rear.lots of extras
Fun ride

Do you have a Mazda RX-2 story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Analog Man

    The early RX2/RX3s have become highly sought after collectibles, it seems especially among well-heeled tech bro California buyers. Most of them have long since vanished (rust and grenading engines) and they don’t often come up for sale, so it can be hard to place a realistic ‘market value’ on them when they do. About a year ago a 1972 RX3 that needed work sold on BaT for an astonishing $29,000(!!!), which might be what this seller is using as a guide to set his price. The non-original engine in this one certainly helps drivability but also hurts collectibility.

    In the pre-coronavirus world, and in California, this one might have found a buyer even at something close to the seemingly breath-taking price. But in the new recessionary world and in New Jersey, it might be for sale for a while. It’ll be interesting to watch to see if someone from the west coast is still sufficiently flush and and easy with cash to take this one.


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