Plenty of Room to Haul Spare Apex Seals: '75 Mazda RX3 Wagon

Mazda RX3 Wagon for saleMazda RX3 Wagon for sale

Some day in the not-too-distant future, early-to-mid ’70s rear wheel drive Japanese cars may well be worth more than their domestic contemporaries. This may come about as the slightly younger Japanese nostalgia crowd reaches the prime purchasing power years (otherwise known as mid-life) and Baby Boomers move on to retirement homes. The low sales numbers combined with low regard and low rust resistance keep the total number of cars like this RX3 wagon down in the “What the Hell is that?” level of commonness.

Today’s example looks incredibly clean on the outside and incredibly not photographed on the inside. It sports a 12A rotary motor with “modified Nikki carb”. These things make a little over 100hp in stock form, but with a roughly one ton curb weight, they’re hardly slow. Given that this is a pre-smog model (and I’m writing in California), it’s good to know any number of forced induction solutions are at your disposal.

Mazda RX3 Wagon for saleMazda RX3 Wagon for sale

It’ll run between $3,000 and $3,500, depending on which wheels and bumpers you’d like to purchase it with. On the off chance you’ve got a running Sea Doo you’d like to part with, that could be worked into the deal (really? a Sea Doo?).
Los Angeles Craigslist

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  1. Alan Avatar

    I've been looking at this thing on CL for months now and contemplating a trip north from SD with a stack of bennies. Hopefully, thanks to the new publicity, someone will buy it and remove that possibility for me.

  2. BPR Avatar

    I’ve heard rumors a about the seals on these things. Anyone know the real deal?

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      I figured that's the only reason that used RX8's are so cheap.
      I also hear they understandably drink a lot of oil

      1. nofrillls Avatar

        Yeah, the apex seals in a properly cared-for engine would go 100-200k miles, but compression was typically significantly diminished by 100k. I had a gen 1 RX-7 that was still going fairly strong on it's 1st motor at 150k. The good news is that for many years, you could by brand-new 12a and 13b motors directly from Mazda for less than $1000, and installation was remarkably straight-forward. You may still be able to get these from Madza. Not sure.
        On oil consumption, again, it was largely about caring for the motor from the get-go. The would certainly consume more oil than the average piston engine, but not necessarily in dramatic quantities.

      2. soo΄pәr-bādd75 Avatar

        RX8s are cheap because if you haven't put a new engine in one by 65k, you're lucky. The older rotary engines are better, and last longer, even if you do have to replace apex seals from time to time. I'd personally rather avoid the whole thing and buy something a little more conventional, but that's just me.

  3. Sivart_R1 Avatar

    Hmm..another rotary post, and another comment from me.
    For BPR: The early motors used a very hard material for the apex seals that damaged the rotor housings. by the time of this RX-3, most of that had been alleviated by different apex seal material and springs. On a non-forced induction car, there is not a lot of risk of breaking an apex seal. You're more likely to lose side-housing to rotor housing seals, closely related to a leaking head gasket, but unfortunately requiring a full teardown and rebuild to repair.
    For Black Steelies: I'm not entirely sure why used RX-8's are so cheap. They still handle wonderfully, and being non-turbo will likely be good to 200k miles as long as they're maintained. Most rotary engines will burn (intentionally, it's injected into the combustion chamber) about a quart of oil per 3000 miles, more if you drive with a lead foot. Because of this, it's generally a good idea to check the oil level at least monthly, and top it off if it's getting too low. Unfortunately I think for many people, the idea of having to change the oil regularly, and check it occasionally between changes is such a foreign concept that the rotary has kept it's reputation for being high maintenance.
    All that said, I'm glad I don't live anywhere near this RX-3, as I would probably now be trying to hide a fourth rotary car from my wife.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Yeah, as I read up on the 12A, I noticed they'd made that switch. Still, it's about the only rotary cliche joke I've got.
      RX-8s suffer similar to Miatas. On paper, they're not very fast. In reality, they're phenomenal sports cars.
      Growing up in a home with a 3rd gen RX-7, the styling on the -8 was just too off-putting. They went from a perfectly proportioned curvy beauty to a bizarre exercise in geometry. Specifically, they replaced the gorgeous "hips" where the the -7's hatch terminates in the fenders with an awkward bubble dome.

      1. Edwin Avatar

        Got wagon? If so,E-mail me @ I'm interested.Need pic's of inside,engine ectttttt.Thank you.

  4. Tomsk Avatar

    To paraphrase the old Mazda ads, that baby makes this hoon go "Hmmmmm…"

  5. facelvega Avatar

    Make my vintage mazda a 65-72 Luce, sold here as the 1800. The engine sucked and for real use would need to be replaced with something more serviceable, but the knockout styling is by Giugiaro when he was at Bertone, apparently done for the Alfa 1750 before Alfa decided to go with the less-beautiful in-house design and Bertone sold the sweet looks to an unprepared Mazda.

    1. Ben Avatar

      About 3 years ago I had a 68 1500 with the engine from the 1800 transplanted in. And a factory 3-speed Borg Warner auto. It was slower than a wet week. 4-wheel unassisted drums meant it didn't really stop in a hurry either.
      The engine in the 1500/1800/Luce was very closely related to the 1.6L engine in the JDM Capella/616 (the piston-powered RX-2) and the 1.8L and then 2.0L in the early 929. From what I recall the ninja move was the 1.6's head on the 2.0 bottom end, giving you clearance from the hood but the higher capacity. And then twin carbs from the 1500SS.

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    Stranger things have been traded than a '75 RX3 wagon and a SeeDoo… Wait, no, probably not. Also, those blacked out 13"s are gross. Hopefully they are the one that cost $500.

  7. Black Steelies Avatar

    Idk either, it's just something I've noticed. There are a good number for sale online but I don't see them around as much as I would expect. The car also retails kinda high so it largely stays away from the tuner crowd.
    I've wanted to get my hands on one since they first came out and i was a measly teenager but would like to know more about their reliability first. Some say they'll be trashed by 100k and others bet they can break 200k with gentle ownership. I reckon most people don't take care of their cars in general and a drivetrain that requires a stricter maintenance schedule like that just gets a shitty reputation…

  8. Fatburning Furnace Avatar

    Morning! i just discovered your website from Yahoo and have been reading some of your posts and just wondering why you chose this Blog Engine type site? Dont you find| it difficult to do everything with? Also is it a security worry? I have looked at setting it up myself but not so certain.

  9. Chauncey Brace Avatar

    ROFLbuy rofl mugs, tshirts and magnetsRolling On Floor Laughinglaughing more than simply LOLused on its own normally

  10. kevin Avatar

    I would like to buy the mazda thanks

  11. Eric Avatar

    Do you still have the rx3?

  12. hector rivera Avatar
    hector rivera

    iff you wante to sell this rx3 call me ok 1-203-507-7062- ok or emall att