That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn’t Make It - story fullscreen Fullscreen

That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn’t Make It

This retro-inspired Cosmo 21 is a rotary-powered Roadster based on the Mazda Miata NB

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The idea of a new car that looks like a classic is not a new one, as many carmakers and design studios have been romanticizing it for a long time. However, it became most obvious around the early 2000s, with cars like the muscle car trio – the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, and cars like the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, only to name a few. That said, while many of these concepts went into production, others did not. Such is the case with the 2002 Mazda Cosmo 21, which took the Miata NB and turned it into a faithful representation of the first Mazda to use a Wankel (rotary) engine.

A bit of Cosmo history

That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn't Make It
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Sadly, the idea of a successor to the 1967 Cosmo never went through
The 2002 Cosmo 21 remained a concept car

The original Mazda Cosmo was a roadster produced between 1967 and 1972. This first-generation model was the brand’s flagship car in Japan and was sold under the name Eunos Cosmo. It was also the model that launched the famous Mazda rotary engine. The Cosmo had two versions – L10A (Series I) and L10B (Series II).

Both versions used a 982 cc rotary engine that produced 110 horsepower in the Series I and 128 horsepower and 103 pound-feet (140 Nm) in the Series II. Earlier cars had a four-speed manual, while later ones got a five-speed unit. In addition, the Series II cars got power brakes and 15-inch wheels. The top speed was 115 mph (185 km/h) and 120 mph (193 km/h) respectively.

Mazda Cosmo specifications
Engine 982 cc rotary
Power 110 HP/128 HP
Torque 103 LB-FT
Transmission five-speed manual
Top Speed 115 mph/120 mph
That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn't Make It
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The 2002 Cosmo, however, did not have a 982 cc rotary engine
Instead it got an RX-8 Renesis unit with 231 hp and 159 lb/ft

Production of the first-generation Mazda (Eunos) Cosmo ended in September 1972. By that point, a total of 1,176 production vehicles were made.

Fast-forward to 2002

That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn't Make It
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Mazda may have missed a great opportunity
A limited production run would ahve made sense and not hinder Miata sales

Nearly two decades ago, Mazda decided to entertain the idea of a spiritual successor to the original Eunos Cosmo. At the 2002 Tokyo Motor Show, they unveiled the Mazda Cosmo 21. The study’s inspiration from the 1967 Roadster was obvious, as the retro-futuristic looks were nearly identical to the original. The car also commemorated 35 years of the original Cosmo.

The Cosmo 21 was built by Mazda subsidiary M’zIF, which actually started as a body kit manufacturer.

The concept may have been based on the second-generation Miata, but the engine actually came from the RX-8. The Renesis rotary engine made 231 horsepower (170 kilowatts) and 159 pound-feet (216 Nm).

As for the aesthetics, the classic proportions have been cleaned up a bit. The 2002 interpretation of the Cosmo features much less chrome. In fact, the only place we see chrome accents is on the door handles. The split taillight design is retained, as it’s an iconic design element, exclusive to the Cosmo. The NB Miata hardtop is the only thing that’s left unchanged.

That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn't Make It
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A Miata interior, but with a twist
Everything was reupholstered in high-end materials and the dashboard adopted a more classic look

The interior layout is identical to the donor car. However, it has been entirely reupholstered in high-end materials. The two-tone, black and white interior features quilted seats, as well as a good amount of leather and suede. Unlike the NB Miata, you are will not be touching any plastics, unless you use some of the buttons on the dashboard that is. The instrument cluster has been given a more classic design and the gauges have been rearranged, in order to better mimic those of the original Cosmo.

Why it didn’t happen

That Time When Mazda Teased Us With Modern Version Of The 1967 Cosmo But Didn't Make It
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The Cosmo 21 celebrated 25 years of Mazda Cosmo
It was a faithful homage and all signature design elements have been recreated in the 2002 study. This included the split taillight design
No one knows exactly why the Mazda Cosmo 21 never made it to production. Some say it’s because many others have made an attempt to capture the retro-cool and Mazda did not want to be a part of the flock.

However, the more logical reason may have been that they didn’t want to hinder the sales of the Miata, which by that time had already proven to be a popular compact roadster. Nevertheless, with the recent reports that Mazda is working on a flagship sports car, the Cosmo name may be revived for real this time.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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