The 1974 Mazda RX-4: Runs on the cheapest gas you can buy!

1974 Mazda RX-4 magazine ad

Over here, the RX-4 was about the thrill of driving. In Japan, the Luce was about pure luxury.

As part of my role as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, racers appreciative of my terrible advice about car selection extremely supportive attitude often offer gifts. Sometimes those gifts take the form of old car magazines, and in one such I found this fascinating advertisement for the 1974 Mazda RX-4.

1974 Mazda RX-4 magazine ad detail

“The RX-4 is more Mazda: longer, wider, sleeker.” As we know now, the early rotary engines were amazingly thirsty, especially when equipped with Early Malaise Era US-market emission-control hardware. That didn’t stop Mazda from claiming that the RX-4 offered a “careful balance of fuel economy, good handling, sensible size, emission controls, and rotary-engine performance.”

1974 Mazda RX-4 wagon and sedan

You could get sedan and wagon versions, though even the coupe was a slow seller in the United States.

1974 Mazda RX-4 magazine ad

In Japan, this car was known as the Mazda Luce Rotary, and its ads emphasized luxury and went heavy on the schmaltz. The “new ro-ta-reeeee!” song in this Japan-market ad is pretty catchy.

“Powerful. Smooth. Quiet. Clean air.” This ad was shot in Southern California, on a narrow residential street double-named (apparently) as Sunset Boulevard and Los Angeles Street. “All right! Maz-a-da rotary engine!”

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