Mazda's 1972 catalogs were inspired by the Pop Art of the day, and in today's light, are really evocative of that psychodelic period. The general catalog is to the left, including the "larger" RX-2, and one specifically for the smaller RX-3/808 models, is on the right, The RX- designation denoted the Rotary powered versions. The RX-3 also came as the 808, a lower-priced, higher economy piston-powered version. Aren't these covers fantastic?
The catalogs open with a spread touting its rotary engine, manufactured by Mazda under license from Germany's NSU/Wankel—which would be bought by Audi—which was then bought by VW. The forecast that by "1980 85% of all cars would be Rotary-powered," would prove to be a bit optimisitic, lol. After developing their own rotary engines for years, both GM and Mercedes Benz gave up in the mid 1970s, never overcoming their thirst for fuel in those days of OPEC-sponsored gas shortages. Mazda is still the only company offering a rotary engine, and only in one sports car, the RX-8.
Not much to look at, the RX-2 was the darling of car enthusiast magazines of the day. They were well built, well equipped, light weight, and powerful beyond their class. They were raced by Car and Driver in their magazine sponsored Reader-Challenges in the early 1970s. I attended one of those with my parents at Lime Rock in 1973. I still have a bumpersticker giveaway, and an issue of their magazine with a special sticker on it, but can't put my fingers on them right now. The cover was GM's new-for-'73 Oldsmobile Cutlass in its new colonnade coupe guise.
The RX-3 was the smaller and less expensive rotary-powered line. Again, not a looker by any stretch of the imagination, really not much more than the fussy generic Japanese lines of the day, and they weren't economical on gas at all, but they were sweet little high-revving sports sedans. I haven't seen one in years and years. I wonder if anyone has restored one?
• For the Wiki on the RX-2, click here.
• For the Wiki on the RX-3, click here.
• A cool remembrance of early '70s imported sports coupes, including the RX-3, at this blogsite.