Pick of the Day: 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S

The Mazda Cosmo sports unique styling that sets it apart
The rotary-engine Mazda Cosmo sports unique styling that sets it apart

One of the fun things to watch in today’s mercurial collector car market is when certain old cars rise from obscurity and gain in value as collectors and investors latch onto them. Recent winners in the collector car lottery range from certain antiques from the earliest days of motoring to postwar classics from Ferrari and Porsche.

Japanese collector cars hit their stride a few years back, led by such limited-edition sports cars as the Toyota 2000GT and the Nissan Skyline GT-R. But as the overall market has cooled, Rising Sun classics settled down from their high prices, although Japanese Home Market cars that were not imported to the U.S. still draw plenty of interest from younger enthusiasts. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

The new Mazda CX-5 delivers sporty driving experience, rare in this compact-SUV segment | Bob Golfen
The new Mazda CX-5 delivers sporty driving experience, rare in this compact-SUV segment | Bob Golfen photos

Buyers shopping for compact SUVs have a whole lot to choose from in this highly competitive chunk of the automotive market. The trick here is for an automaker to deliver something that sets itself apart from the herd.

Mazda once again has taken its own road with the updated 2017 CX-5, which is distinctive not because of price, accommodations or utility, but because it drives and handles more like a sport sedan than an SUV. The ride might seem a bit firm and the steering might feel a trifle heavy for this segment, but the payback is an agile little ute that you can toss into corners and have fun with on a winding road. Continue reading

First rotary-powered Mazda Cosmo zooms past 50th anniversary

The Mazda Cosmo Sport blends design elements both familiar and unique
The Mazda Cosmo Sport blends design elements both familiar and unique | Mazda photos

The name Felix Wankel doesn’t ring too many bells these days, but he’s the German engineer who invented the rotary engine, which later helped rescue Japanese automaker Mazda and, in 1991, became the only non-piston engine to power a car to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In the 1960s, the Wankel engine became an attention-grabbing gambit by a struggling Mazda, which bought the technology from German automaker NSU. While NSU had modest success in production, Mazda engineers improved on the concept, creating a unique twin-rotor design to go into an unconventional sports car that served as a halo for the brand, as well as introducing a new image for Mazda. Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring

2017 Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring is updated inside and out | Larry Edsall photos
2017 Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring is updated inside and out | Larry Edsall photos

From one end of the lineup to the other, there are few automakers who produce cars that are as much fun to drive as does Mazda. Yes, indeed, there is that Miata “zoom-zoom” in every Mazda vehicle, but it actually pre-dates the MX-5, going back to such vehicles as the RX-7 and the 323 GTX, that hoot-to-drive, road-legal rally car. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: Mazda RX-7 GSL

The Mazda RX-7 is a clean-looking low-mileage survivor
The Mazda RX-7 is a clean-looking low-mileage survivor

Although the Mazda RX-7 has never hit its stride as a collector car, enthusiasts know it as an innovative sports car powered by a tiny-yet-powerful rotary engine mounted far enough behind the front wheels to earn it mid-engine designation. A near-perfect 50-50 weight balance contributes to the car’s exceptional handling.

The Pick of the Day is a 1983 Mazda RX-7 GSL with only 32,699 miles on its odometer and a very modest price tag for such an interesting survivor. The GSL label designates the fully optioned luxury model equipped with the desirable power and convenience features of its day. Continue reading

Significant competition cars set for Gooding’s Amelia Island sale

The 1977 Porsche 934/5 racer is a “true one-off” that won the 1981 Australian Sports Car Championship | Gooding & Company photos
The 1977 Porsche 934/5 racer is a “true one-off” that won the 1981 Australian Sports Car Championship | Gooding & Company photos

Historic race cars that performed in international competitions at Le Mans, Nurburgring, Fuji and a host of other famous venues will be auctioned during Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island, Florida, sale on March 10.

Leading the pack are three intriguing examples of performance machines, including two Porsches and a famed rotary-powered Mazda that competed in endurance races as the factory entry. Continue reading

Driven again: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has seat heaters to keep you warm with the top down | Larry Edsall photos
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata has seat heaters to keep you warm with the top down | Larry Edsall photos

This was my second experience with the newest-generation Mazda Miata, the 2016 MX-5 Grand Touring version. Earlier this year, I drove one from Phoenix to Las Vegas and back, exploring the spectacular scenery along the Lake Mead National Recreation Area’s Northshore Drive and within the Valley of Fire State Park.

This time, I borrowed another Miata for a week amid Michigan’s autumn leaves. October is the month I miss most since moving from Michigan to Phoenix. October in Michigan is full of sunny days, crispy cool nights and awesome colors. Continue reading

Japanese collector cars making inroads at Monterey auctions

A 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport will be offered at the Gooding auction at Pebble Beach | Gooding & Company
A 1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport will be offered at the Gooding auction at Pebble Beach | Gooding & Company

Japanese collector cars are kind of a new thing, with some of them making it into the higher echelons at auctions and private sales, and being included in museum collections. While much of the interest has been spawned by the latest generation of car collectors just coming of age, those special cars of the 1960s and ’70s have taken on a new luster for older enthusiasts.

The limited-production Toyota 2000GT sports coupe, built from 1967-70, has become a solid player among the high rollers, flirting with million-dollar bids at auction. To a lesser extent, the quirky and exotic Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S also has hit the big time, with the limited-edition rotary-powered sports coupes built from 1967-72 typically going well into six figures at auction. Continue reading

Driven: 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature

The Mazda CX-9 was completely revamped for 2016 | Bob Golfen
The Mazda CX-9 was completely revamped for 2016 | Bob Golfen

During the past decade or so, Mazda has marketed its vehicles in a certain way, as the sporty alternative to the normal run of practical cars and SUVs. “Zoom-Zoom” has been the quirky tagline, which was a risky gambit if the Mazdas didn’t deliver the driving performance as advertised. Mockery might have ensued.

Fortunately, Mazda has upheld its promise to deliver vehicles with responsive drivability. Well, most of the time. There have been a few misses. But starting with the pure sports-car pleasure of the MX-5 Miata, the Japanese automaker has imbued its lineup with a certain elan that sets them apart. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1979 Mazda RX-7

This clean-looking Mazda RX-7 has had just two owners since new
This clean-looking Mazda RX-7 has had just two owners since new

There are a few Japanese cars that changed the way we think about small sports cars. The first was the Datsun 240Z, the car that hurried along the demise of the British and Italian sports car brands. Another car that did it again in the late 1970s and was the Mazda RX-7. Continue reading