9. Mazda RX-3 Coupe
Despite the limited appeal of Mazda’s Wankel engine offerings, problematic durability, and unusual driving dynamics, the company continued to offer this type of engine in various models for USA buyers, even in compact pickup trucks. But in the early ’70s, the most interesting was a small but lively RX-3 Coupe.
This tiny car was a nicely styled fastback coupe with modern design cues, although on a much smaller scale than contemporary models from the USA or Europe. The most important was the engine, and under the hood was a two-rotor, 1.1-liter Wankel unit with 91 HP. We know it doesn’t sound as much, and foreign markets got the same engine with 115 HP, but domestic emissions regulations choked this little Rotary motor.
But, the 2300-pound weight, manual gearbox with short gearing and high revving engine made this tiny coupe pretty capable. The car even broke a few records on Bonneville in 1974.