The Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup, or “REPu”, was one of the more interesting vehicles Mazda made in the 1970s. Before the surge in fuel prices caused by the OPEC shenanigans of 1973, Mazda was offering the fun but inefficient rotary engine in just about every car it sold. The REPu was the most utilitarian rotary powered option.
The REPu was the powered by the 1.3 liter 13B Wankel rotary engine first seen in the RX4 sedan and wagon. This motor gave the little pickup 110 horsepower and 117 lb-ft of torque with which to haul ass (and 1400 lbs of stuff). Unfortunately, rotaries are thirsty and could only provide fuel economy in the teens on the required premium fuel. This made the REPu not very popular in the tiny pickup truck segment where more efficient options like the Chevy Luv and the Ford Courier offered similar work ability with better gas mileage.
Despite the poor fuel economy, the REPu has become a highly desirable Japanese classic. I personally have always wanted one. I initially wanted one because of the unique package of rotary power in a little pickup. However, years ago I discovered they were classed well for Street Prepared autocrossing. Rotaries are great autocross engines, they respond well to the class’ allowed mods and a pickup can be made to handle reasonably well. I was particularly proud of my ace in the hole idea to balance the weight distribution. Autocross cars are allowed to install a trailer hitch. Ever notice a sporty little car zip by with a seemingly out of place trailer hitch? That car is likely an autocrosser or track enthusiast who, on the weekends, hauls a little tire trailer to events. Since pickups don’t have much weight over the rear axle, I thought I would help the my theoretical REPu racer out by installing a fifth wheel hitch in the bed. The would be a nice chunk of metal right over the rear wheels. Some day, after I win the megahellalotto I’ll do this.
This particular REPu is clearly very well loved. The paint and graphics are in great shape and it has a set of later Mazda truck wheels. The interior is clean too, with a pair of NA Miata seats installed in place of the vinyl bench that originally came in a REPu.
I know I say this with just about all of the Street Parked finds, but I love this little truck. I wonder what has been done to the engine? The 13B lasted all the way into the 90’s to be installed in the supercar FD Rx7. Could there be a turbocharged monster under that hood? Probably not. I’d imagine an original 13B is in there with a hotrod carburetor and maybe a set of Racing Beat’s headers. That sort of setup would make this a fun, fast and reliable little truck.
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