Friday, October 26, 2007

How far back?

Swade recently re-asked a question that sparked a load of comments at Trollhattan Saab.
Can anyone think of a truly beautiful Japanese (Korean / Malaysian / Chinese / Thai) car? One that doesn’t look dated after, say, three years.
While various commenters pointed to well known cars such as the Mazda RX-7, Mazda Miata, Datsun 280Z, Acura NSX, and the Toyota MR2, what caught my attention was Jon's choice of the original Cosmo. The what? I had honestly never heard of the beast before. So, as any other good scholar, I googled the name and came up with some interesting information.

The Cosmo was a rotary powered car built by Mazda from 1967-1995. As Jon mentioned, the original Cosmo was a nice looking car similar to the Fiats, Triumphs, and MG's of the 1960's and 70's. Notice also the similarity of the car's headlights to those of the Jaguar E-type. The car eventually competed in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route in 1968 and surprised many by taking fourth place.

The original Cosmo (1967-1972) was a nice looking car. But someone fell asleep while designing the second generation car (1975-80). Wikipedia's entry included this ugly picture which instantly reminded me of the Ford Mustang II. This, to me, is the ugliest Mustang ever produced. So, why is there a similarity between the two cars? Ford and Mazda jointly produced the Ford Probe (1988-97). Did they also produce the Cosmo/Mustang II together? Just how far back did this alliance go?

P.S. The 1982-89 Cosmo "was the only car in automotive history to option all three forms of Automotive engine. Piston, Diesel and Rotary" [wikipedia].

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