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1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup

Twenty Gs And This Rare Mini Can Be Yours

Tim Esterdahl
Aug 8, 2015
Photographers: Courtesy Of Owner
With new trucks growing wider and taller, challenging even the "fullsize" moniker, reminders of the way trucks used to be can be quite shocking. For example, we recently came across a near-mint 1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup (REPU) for sale on Craigslist. This clean truck is a reminder of just how far trucks and gasoline engines have come.
Photo 2/17   |   1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup Front View
Our Craigslist find is a spared-no-expense frame-off restoration completed in 2010, according to the owner. The California-car restoration was done with just 55,000 miles on the odometer and with many hard-to-find parts. This restoration also replaced the engine with a factory-sealed Mazda 13B, four-port crate motor, including a four-barrel Hitachi Carb. It also features an original four-speed manual transmission.
The exterior features Hugger Orange paint and all the chrome has been polished or re-done. It sports 14-inch white steel wheels to give it the period-correct stance.
Photo 3/17   |   1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup Rotary Engine
On the inside, the cab was completely restored with custom white and orange vinyl and new carpet. It also features a wood steering wheel, shift knob, and lacquered dash. While the factory Clarion AM radio has been replaced, the owner says a RetroSound AM/FM/USB model fits right in and "goes undetected in the original dash bezel."
A variety of other improvements were done to the truck including replacing the clutch, master cylinder, and emissions vacuum lines. It even has a class III hitch with a 7-pin harness, and the owner says it will tow a small trailer at highway speeds.
It is currently for sale on Craigslist for $19,999 and resides in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The owner says he needs to make room for other projects and it is time to move on.
History of the Mazda REPU
In the '70s, trucks like the Chevy LUV, Ford Courier, Toyota Pickup, and Datsun 720 dominated the landscape. These trucks were ideal for many contractors, farmers, and the general public who needed something cheap to haul things while having good access to the bed. They didn't tow much, nor were they filled with the many conveniences we now take for granted like power windows and locks. This 1975 Mazda REPU is a perfect example of that kind of truck.
Photo 7/17   |   1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup Steering Wheel
Introduced in 1974, the Mazda Rotary pickup is the world's first and only rotary powered pickup. The engine, a 1.3L Wankel, produced 110 hp and weighed just 130 pounds. Mazda widened the stance of the truck to accommodate this engine. The truck is known for its quick takeoff, as well as for not being fuel efficient. How can a 110 hp pickup be considered quick? It was because of a really light with a curb weight of just 2,800 pounds and an engine that redlined at 7,000 rpm, according to fan site MazdaREPU.com.
Motor Trend tested this truck back in the day and found its quickness was remarkable. We were able to run 0-60 in 8.9 seconds! It had a payload of 1,350 pounds, and the highly stylized version we tested sold for $6,045 brand new.
While the peppy engine was impressive, the fuel economy was the truck's undoing. Road & Track wrote in their review that sales were dogged by an EPA-reported fuel economy of about 10 mpg for the rotary engine. While the EPA would rerun their tests and hit 12-13 mpg, this still wasn't great. In comparison, a typical American V-8 pickup during that time period would get about 11 mpg doing the same test, according to Road & Track.
Besides the engine, another unique part of the REPU is the 6x5 bed. This bed sits on a frame that is shorter than some of today's compact cars.
Photo 11/17   |   1975 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup Driver Side View
While this truck was popular for a short time period, by 1978 it was becoming a memory. The gas shortages drove consumers to desire more fuel-efficient vehicles, and the Mazda REPU just didn't fit the bill.
Currently, there is an active audience at MazdaREPU.com.

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