Car & Classic Dealer

Oldtimer Australia

PO Box 138 Hamilton QLD 4007 Australia

1973 Mazda RX-4 (Luce GS) For Sale

On 30th January 1920 the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co. Ltd was founded in Hiroshima, Japan. Initially, the company focused on the production of cork. In 1927 the company was renamed to Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. The company diversified; however, times were tough and it had to be saved from bankruptcy by the Hiroshima Savings Bank and other business leaders in Hiroshima in the late 1920’s. In 1931 the company decided to start producing vehicles. The first vehicle produced by the company was a three wheeled open “truck”. Basically, the vehicle resembled a motorcycle with an open wagon or a truck bed and was called the Mazda-Go.

In 1960 the Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd produced their first passenger car – the Mazda R360. The R360 was known in Japan as a Kei car or city car. It had a 356cc rear mounted air-cooled V-twin engine and was available as a two door, four seat coupe.

Around the same time, the second president of Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd, Tsuneji Matsuda, had a friend in Germany who told him all about a new type of engine the German company NSU Motorenwerke AG was developing. Matsuda was immediately interested and in 1961 Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd and NSU signed a study contract to further develop the Wankel engine as it was now known. In 1964 NSU was the first company to produce a car with a Wankel engine, the NSU Spider. It was superseded by the NSU RO 80 in 1967. NSU struggled with reliability issues and they had problems with the seals for the rotor in the engine which led to frequent engine failures. Toyo Koguo Co Ltd managed to solve that problem and in 1967 they produced their first Wankel engine powered car, the Mazda Cosmo 110S. To further distinguish themselves from other manufacturers, they called their version of the Wankel engine a rotary engine. In July 1968 the Mazda R100 was introduced. It was offered as a two-door coupe and a four door sedan. The Mazda R100 was powered by a 982cc rotary engine. In 1970 the Capella was introduced with either a 1. 5 or a 1. 6 litre four-cylinder SOHC engine. Buyers of the Capella also had the option to choose a sportier model, the RX-2. The RX-2 was equipped with a 1146cc rotary engine. For Japanese buyers this came with an additional advantage. Road tax in Japan was based on engine size. Having a rotary engine equipped car meant they had the advantage of the small engine size which resulted in a lower road tax but the performance of a car with a much larger engine size.

In 1971 the Mazda Grand Familia was introduced in Japan. It was sold as a Mazda 808 in some countries and as a Mazda 818 in others. It was offered as a two door coupe, a four door sedan and a five door station wagon. The Grand Familia series car was only offered with four cylinder engines. At the same time the Mazda Savanna was introduced. It was largely identical to the Grand Familia with the exception of the engine. The Savanna had a rotary engine. Outside of Japan the Savanna was sold as an RX-3.

The Mazda Luce LA2 series was introduced in Japan in late 1972. The model would be exported as the RX-4 and Mazda had the lucrative American market in its sights. The Mazda RX-4 was a bigger car than the RX-2 / RX-3 and it was marketed as being ‘sporty and luxurious’ in an attempt to appeal to a broader customer base. The RX-4 was available as a hardtop coupe, a sedan and a station wagon.

Interestingly, the roots of the Mazda Luce date back to 1962 when Mazda signed a deal with Bertone to design a new mid-size saloon. The first prototype, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was first shown at the 1963 Tokyo Motor Show. Production for the Luce started in July 1966 and the car was officially launched in August of that year. Initially, the car was powered by a four cylinder 1, 490cc piston engine and had rear wheel drive. In 1968 the engine size was increased to 1, 796 cc. In 1969 Mazda introduced the Luce R130 coupe which was powered by a 13A rotary engine and had front wheel drive, similar to the concept designed in 1965. It was the only front wheel drive rotary engine car Mazda ever built. It remained in production until 1972 and less than 1, 000 examples were built. It was then superseded by the Luce LA2 series

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale an extremely low mileage, incredibly original, factory right hand drive 1973 Mazda RX-4 hardtop coupe. This particular model, with a chassis number prefix of LA22S is powered by Mazda’s 12A rotary engine that is mated to a 4 speed manual gearbox. This car was sold new in Japan, so it is badged as a Luce GS.

We always get excited when something special arrives in our showroom and this Mazda RX-4 hardtop coupe definitely ticks that box. This car is an INCREDIBLE TIME CAPSULE and it really belongs in a museum!

The original service book confirms this car was sold new in Japan to its first owner on 18th July 1973. That is also the only entry in the service book which is no surprise as today the odometer shows 6, 397 km from new. The original warranty card shows the car was delivered new to Setsuo Sumiya, who lived in Takahama city in the Aichi prefecture in Japan, on the 18th of July 1973. It is understood he only used the car sporadically and when he got sick the car was parked up. At some stage the registration of the car was transferred to another family member who lived at the same address. There is a registration sticker on the window showing the car was last registered in 1985.

The current owner acquired the car in 2013 and subsequently imported it into Australia. There is an import approval on file for the car dated 27th August 2013. When he imported the car an export certificate, dated 9th August 2013, was issued for the car by the Director-General of the Transport Branch of the District Transport Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Japan which shows the name of the family member as the owner.

The current owner is a passionate Mazda enthusiast and collector, so it is no surprise that this car found its way to him. Upon the arrival of the car in Australia he conducted a detailed inspection and could not believe its overall condition. He cleaned the fuel system, serviced all the hydraulics, overhauled the rear brakes, serviced the car and fitted new Firestone TZ700 185/ 70R13 tyres. The original Bridgestone Skyway Delux B7813 tyres will accompany the car. These could easily be fitted to the car if it was to be shown at a concours d’elegance, where it would have to be a serious contender in the preservation class.

The presentation of this car is quite unbelievable. It would be extremely rare to find any car that is almost 50 years young in this condition anywhere in the world!

The car still wears its original ‘jewel green’ paint (paint code D8) which is in exceptional condition for its age. There are a few spots on the bonnet and the odd blemish here and there. There is some crazing on the boot and the tip/ edge of the right rear guard has the paint rubbed though. Similarly, the point of the bonnet also has the paint rubbed through, possibly from sitting under a cover. As they say ‘it is only original once’ and you would not touch this car. The paint imperfections are relatively minor and are part of the charm of the car. The external trim is in very good condition.

Open the door and the first thing you notice is the plastic on the front seats, the rear seats and on the door cards. This is the original delivery plastic. The second thing you notice are the ‘only in Japan’ seat doilies. We’re unsure whether these were a factory option, dealer supplied or just installed by the first owner . . . but they are certainly unique. Take a closer look and you notice the sun visors also still have the delivery plastic on them and even the indicator stork has a plastic sleeve around it. The more time you spend admiring the interior, the more you’re amazed by it. Everything presents as you would expect in a new car, but then you realise you are not sitting in a new car but in a car that was built in 1973! The dashboard is immaculate and there are no scratches or cracks anywhere. The original Clarion AM radio is still fitted to the car as is the original Clarion 8-track player. The instruments and controls all present ‘as new’. Usually, one of the first things which gets scratched on any car is the kick plate on the drivers’ side. But not on this, it also presents like the day it left the factory. And the carpets . . . also like new. We just love the original tag hanging on the vent control. It is written in Japanese on one side and in English on the other. The interior is quite extraordinary!

Under the bonnet everything is exactly as you would expect it to be. It all looks totally original and clean. You can tell by looking at all the nuts and bolts that no one has ever put a spanner on them. All the original stickers are present, except one under bonnet sticker that is obviously missing.

In the boot you’ll find an original boot mat, spare wheel with original Bridgestone Skyway Delux tyre, jack and the original, unused tool kit. Some of the tools in the tool kit are still wrapped in their original wax paper!

We had to take the car for a short test drive, but obviously not too far to keep the mileage down! The owner assured us it also drove exceptionally well. We were not disappointed. You insert the key into the ignition, pull the choke lever back and the engine starts easily. The car quickly settles into a smooth idle and you are ready to go for a drive. The engine feels strong, the gear changes are smooth and the car feels very stable on the road. It does everything one would expect.

These cars are pretty cool and great fun to drive. On our photo shoot this RX-4 turned plenty of heads, and everyone who saw it up close was just amazed at how original it is.

The colour scheme is fabulous and ‘jewel green’ cars are featured on the original sales brochure(s).

Accompanying the car are original tyres, wind deflectors (not fitted), owner’s manual, service book, sales brochures, some Japanese documentation, an Australian Import Approval, two original keys, spare wheel, jack and tool kit.

Today the odometer reads 6, 397 km.


- a rare, low mileage, original car finished in its fabulous original colour of ‘jewel green’.
- factory 4 speed manual gearbox and factory air conditioning.
- an incredibly original and unmolested time capsule.
- immaculate interior.
- books & tools

Let the photos tell the story . . . a true unicorn!

Price AUD$149, 950.
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