This Mazda RX-2 Is A Fine And Rare Example Of An Early Rotary

Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.

I know that yesterday, maybe, accidentally, I kind of, sort of, deliberately called the rotary engine terrible. That's not because rotary engines are terrible to drive, or aren't terrific fun, but because actually owning one can be a bit of a nightmare. Truth be told, I never have owned one, but a lot of that is because of the horror stories I heard from people who actually had the pleasure of plunking down money for one, and the trials and tribulations of maintenance that ensued. Not to mention all that oil and gas money down the drain.


That being said, with few exceptions, Mazdas with rotary engines should always hold a special place in any enthusiasts heart, if for nothing else because they're lovable little oddballs of the automotive world. And as a human being, you are more likely than not a lovable little oddball. So there's a kinship there, or something.

One of the first cars available in the United States with a rotary was the Mazda RX-2. Which, incredibly enough, a friend of mine spotted in Greenpoint, Brooklyn last night.


And apologies for the stalker-ish photography, what with the darkened corners and the flash and what looks to be maybe a Cadillac CTS Coupe parked in front of it, but when you see a Mazda RX-2 in New York, you start snapping photos immediately. You Californians might be saying "pish posh, we get these all the time here on the Best Coast," or other things you Californians say, but they really are rare little gems over here.

Part of that is the eternal menaces of rust and grime that completely destroyed most older cars here, but part of that is because hardly anybody bought Mazdas back in the early 1970s, especially when compared to the Big Three. Because why buy a weird little car with a weird little engine from a company based in the city we nuked during World War II, when you could buy a nicely equipped Chevy Nova instead?


But the Mazda RX-2 was a herald of things to come. Not only was it one of the first little Japanese imports that would soon threaten American dominance of the domestic market, but it had a little spinning hamentaschen in the middle that millions would soon come to know and engage in a love-hate relationship with, in famous cars like the RX-7, and more overlooked cars like the RX-8.


It really is a rare treat. So when you see one, you snap a photo. Because you never know when all that rust and grime will take its next victim.

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