The Mazda RX-3 is a powerful car from Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corporation. Marketed in Japan under the name Mazda Savanna, the Mazda RX-3 was a 1970s car through and through. It had model years of 1971 through 1978, although production for the Australian market ceased by 1976. Still, its design as a sports car allowed it to have a highly popular showing. The range included the super deluxe coupe, station wagon, and deluxe sedan body styles. The Mazda RX-3 was related to the Mazda Grand Familia series of cars.
One of its most attractive features was a powerful rotary engine. To give a sense of how powerful the engine was in the Mazda RX-3, two RX-3 engines were used to power an Aero Design DG-1 racing aircraft. In fact, the Mazda RX-3 is unique among many cars for its use on the racetrack. In Japan, the RX-3 won a September 1971 Fuji 500 race. The following year, it competed with Nissan’s Skyline in the Japanese Grand Prix and won the touring car category.
The Mazda RX-3 was raced in Australia as well. In the Bathurst 1000, the car placed first in its class over multiple years. As a racing car, the Mazda RX-3 remained competitive for quite a while, racking up over 100 wins in racing events in 1976. Modern club racing still features the Mazda RX-3 because of its attractive exterior and powerful performance.
Series 2 was released in late 1973, hitting Australia in March of 1974. It featured a revamped front end, plus new taillights known as ‘Savanna tallights’ after the Japanese model designation. Subsequently, it was refreshed a few more times with minor updates and enhancements.
The Mazda RX-3 series is distinct because it uses a 10A rotary internal combustion engine, which happens to be completely different from the typical piston engine used in most modern automobiles. An entire subculture has formed around the appreciation of the Wankel rotary engine.
The performance of the Mazda RX-3 is one of its major draws. The 1972 Mazda RX-3 Deluxe S102A featured a 10A rotary engine with 82.1kW of power and 134Nm of torque. In city driving, it had city fuel consumption of 13.8-17.6L/100km. The sportier 1974 Mazda RX-3 Super Deluxe coupe featured an engine with power of 89.6kW and torque of 154Nm, plus fuel consumption of 16.7-21.3L/100km.
The latest model of the Mazda RX-3 was a 1975 coupe, featuring a 2-cylinder rotary engine with power of 71kW of power and 138Nm of torque, plus fuel consumption of 14.3-18.3L/100km. Of course, the best way to tell the power and performance of the Mazda RX-3 is to drive it, as it’s unlike most other cars in terms of performance.
The Mazda RX-3 was released from 1971 through 1975, and models came in both manual and automatic transmissions each year. There was a deluxe option to the Series 1 coupe style that added an optional body stripe, clock, rear defogger, centre console, and collapsible steering column. The Series 2 of the Mazda RX-3 added 15 percent more power, allowing for a higher top speed, while offering only minor changes to the standard interior, such as an overhead light and tweaks to the trim and seatbelts.
Other changes in the Series 2 included new exterior colours for the car such as Alexandria Gold and Bottle Green. Ultimately, the Maxdra RX-3 greatly influenced its successor, the Mazda RX-7. The Mazda RX-3 was easily the most popular of the pre-RX-7 Mazda models.
When it comes to coupes in Australia, the Mazda RX-3 is among the most popular. Because of its unique rotary engine and distinctive look, it’s a polarizing car. The people who love the rotary engine and the Mazda RX series are unlikely to consider most competitors, while individuals who dislike the rotary engine are unlikely to appreciate the Mazda RX-3.
Still, there are other major competitors who produced coupe and sports cars at the same time, such as the Chevrolet Bel Air, which overlapped the release of the Mazda RX-3 for four years. Other competing sports cars include the Ford Falcon and Chevrolet Cadillac. It also faced literal competition on the racetrack from cars like the Nissan Skyline, which had 208kW of power, but the Mazda RX-3 and related Mazda cars had plenty of diehard fans.