1974 Mazda RX-4 - Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen.

Know what's better looking than a 2011 Mazda? A 1974 Mazda RX-4, that's what! This ad from the December '74 issue of Car and Driver proves it.
It kind of looks a little Challenger-y, but then everything did, back then. It's got the headlights pushed back into a chrome-surrounded cowl and a nice fastback-style rear. Also, the aluminum lace wheels are perfect for the car. It makes you wonder how we got to where we are now with Mazda styling. What do I mean? Let me show you.

Here's a 2011 Mazda 3 series. My god, I hate this thing. Mazda thinks the front end is cute and charming. Lots of people call it a "cheshire cat grin". I call it juvenile and retarded. The grilles and intakes on the front of a car should indicate where a grille or intake is located. Mazda  violated all of this when they pretty much painted a grin on their car with black plastic. That grin? only the bottom third actually lets air in. The second picture with the blue car shows this in clear detail. The upper part of the "mouth" and the "dimples" on the sides are just decoration. All in all, this is what you'd get if you asked a five year  old girl to design a car for you.

Disclaimer: The Mazda 3 is a stylish, reliable car and everyone should have one.

The 1974 Mazda also has a "Wankel Rotary Engine". Off the top of my head, I can't think of another widely produced engine that's as vastly different from the ordinary type of engine. Most engines have pistons that turn a crank that makes the wheels go. This constant reversing of direction (pistons moving up & down) can be considered "wasted energy", from an engineering standpoint. A rotary engine has a... umm... "triangle" that basically spins around and around inside a kind of oval-shaped chamber. With no parts that need to move, stop, reverse direction, and move the other direction thousands of times per minute, the rotary engine has far fewer moving parts than a piston engine and can spin much faster, with less vibration. This should indicate a fundamentally superior deign, but it never seemed to get perfected like the piston engine. It's always been a bit of an oddball engine design that's also terribly clever. It should be mentioned that the 2011 model pictured above has a normal piston-type engine, as well as the entire current lineup of Mazda models.
Rotary engines generate more power for their size, but get surprisingly bad gas mileage. Also, they've always had problems leaking oil. This may be part of the reason Mazda dropped the design in 2011 - a move that made lots of people sad, because of the cult following rotary engines enjoy.

The desirability of the rotary-powered 1974 Mazda must be weighed against the trouble of owning the "uncommon" power plant along with the super cool chassis. At least when it does break down, it won't be grinning at you like an idiot, prompting you to simply abandon it by the side of the road.

Click for hugeness.


BrainThought said...

For some reason, the Mazda 3 reminds me of certain variants of the Peugeot 206. It's probably the stupid grinning grill:


PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I have looked at the Peugeot 203 and, yes, it's similarly awful. I know that people have always ascribed facial features to cars, but I think this should remain a thing that happens in the person's mind. To start rearranging the front end of a car to resemble a face is embarrassing and childish. The headlights, ducts, and grilles should go where they need to be and let the viewer see what he wants to see.

I've seen these eyelashes for the VW New Beetle. Is this any more stupid than painting on a clown face in black plastic?


Thanks for backing me up, Braintought!

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