Friday, 11 July 2014

Mazda RX500

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Well, it doesn't get a lot more seventies than this...

This year's Cartier Style et Luxe concours lawn at the Goodwood Festival of Speed was as packed with intriguing exhibits as ever, but there's no question that the car creating the most buzz was the outrageously-styled Mazda RX500.
The car first broke cover at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show; interestingly, it had been developed as a mobile test-bed for high speed safety. It weighed under 600kg thanks to its plastic body, and the 247bhp mid-mounted Wankel rotary engine propelled it to the heady heights of 145mph+. Those fairground disco lights at the rear were more than just a colourful retro affectation, they served as part of the safety programme: the green lights illuminated when accelerating, the yellow lights indicated cruising at a constant speed, and of course the red ones were brake lights - they increased in number and intensity depending on how hard the driver was braking. Nifty, huh? The cabin was entered via forward-swinging butterfly doors, while gullwing panels provided access to the engine.
As is so often the case with concept cars - transitory things that they are - it was packed up shortly after the 1970 show and largely forgotten... until 2008, that is, when it was rediscovered, lightly restored, and put on display at the Hiroshima City Transport Museum. The car's trip to Goodwood was its first out of Japan, and it was a genuine joy to behold. Perfect from every angle.

Click here for more photos from the Festival of Speed.

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