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Paris show: Mazda RX-7 dream still alive

Gone but not forgotten: Mazda’s last rotary engined sportscar, the RX-8, is now discontinued.

Rotary-powered two-seat RX-7 sportscar still an active dream for Mazda diehards

Mazda logo1 Oct 2012

By DAVID HASSALL in PARIS

MAZDA executives continue to hold onto dreams of making a new-generation RX-7 sportscar – complete with a rotary engine – and are prepared to pounce when the Japanese company again becomes profitable.

A number of Mazda traditionalists see the RX-7 and the rotary engine as icons of the brand that must one day return and appear to be maintaining the dream.

Mazda design chief Ikuo Maeda – whose father Matasaburo Maeda designed the very first RX-7 that shook the world when it appeared in 1978 – leads the true believers.

Maeda-san, whose nickname is ‘Speedy’, told GoAuto at the Paris motor show this week that, having succeeded his father as design chief, still aims to follow him as an RX-7 designer.

“It is still my dream,” he told us.

“When we make the money, I will be able to spend the money,” he said in reference to Mazda’s recent post-Ford financial troubles.

22 center imageLeft: Mazda design chief Ikuo Maeda.

The 52 year-old designed the last rotary-engined ‘sportscar’, the RX-8 that was recently discontinued, a victim of increasingly tough global emission and fuel economy requirements, but sees the future RX-7 as a real two-seat sportscar, possibly with a mid-mounted engine.

He has an important ally in engineering ace Ichiro Hirose, the recently appointed general manager of Mazda Europe’s R&D centre and responsible for the brand’s SkyActiv technologies.

Mr Hirose, who is also a Mazda Europe vice-president, told GoAuto in Paris that Mazda was still working on a Sky Rotary but, like Mr Maeda, made it clear that nothing could be done until the company was in better financial health.

“There is a dream,” Mr Hirose told us when asked about the potential to apply SkyActiv technology to the rotary engine.

“If this kind of SkyActiv technology is well-received then we have a chance to restart such a development.

“At this moment we are not in a position to restart again, but if in future we earn more money then I believe there is a chance.”

In the meantime, Mr Maeda – the father of Mazda’s current highly acclaimed ‘Kodo’ design language – continues to do RX-7 design sketches in the hope they will one day turn into a production reality.

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