Vintage Review: R&T Tests The Mazda 808 Coupe – Pistons To The Rescue


(from the Jan. 1975 issue)   Mazda really burst on the scene with its rotary-powered cars, the RX2 and RX3. But they were thirsty, so the energy crisis suddenly forced Mazda to put more emphasis on their piston-engined alternatives, like this 808, which shared the same basic body as the RX3. R&T rightly points out that although the rotary Mazdas used a bit of fuel, it wasn’t out of proportion to their performance, which was substantially better. 


Not surprisingly, performance was decidedly more modest. The run from 0-60 took 15.6 seconds, but the typically-Japanese slick-shifting transmission helped ease the pain. The 808 fell roughly between the Toyota Corolla and Corona in price and size. It’s 1590 cc sohc four was rated at 70 hp @5000 rpm.


Given that R&T only got 21 mpg, the trade-off was questionable. Of course, the rugged Mazda piston engine wouldn’t be needing new apex seals every 40-60k miles. That fuel mileage figure also shows just how much more efficient modern cars, given that they’re also larger. more comfortable and have many more amenities. A Corolla easily averages 34 mpg.


Here’s David Saunder’s COAL on his Mazda 808