With the rollout of the rotary engine’d Mazda MX-30 underway in Japan, Mazda is doing a video series on owners of rotary-powered cars. The first is Mr Shimzu, who drives a second-generation Mazda Luce, known as the RX-4 in the US and as the 929 in some parts of the world. It’s a car he’s loved since childhood, as his grandfather purchased it the year he was born.
In fact, Shimizu-san’s father owned two Luces. The first is described as an older one that was a sibling to the Cosmo, which could be the ultra-rare R130 Rotary Coupe. The second was an LA2 like he one he currently drives. Shimizu-san says he loves driving his old Luce, even if it’s slower than modern cars, because the rotary is an engine that no other car company makes and he’s happy to be part of that elite group.
Mr Shimizu says that he loved his grandfather’s Luce, but when he was in first grade his grandfather unexpectedly got rid of the car. His family said he cried at the time, and just describing that moment still brings him to tears today. Since he missed the chance to inherit the Luce, he ended up buying one just like it. He describes it as a symbol of Mazda’s technology and a proof of the challenge that Mazda overcame to build it.
Shimuz-san says that he’s continually in awe of Mazda’s ability to build great engines, from fours and sixes to diesels to the SkyActiv-X. Now Mazda is bringing back the rotary, but not as a power source for the car. Instead, it’s going to charge the battery that drives electric motors for propulsion. He believes that there will always be a place for combustion cars, but as the world moves toward electrification the window to drive cars like his Luce will get smaller and smaller. So he plans to enjoy it as much as he can while that window exists.
It’s a touching story and wonderful to see that such a beautiful example of the Luce still exists. There are some custom touches like a Nardi steering wheel and Longchamp XR-4s, but such a car is extremely rare these days, even in Japan. You might see dozens of Skylines at a car show there, but to be honest we’ve seen more Toyota 2000GTs and Cosmo Sports than Luces in Japan, so we’re happy to see owners like Shimizu-san carrying the torch.