In the early ‘00s, retro cars were all the craze. The new Mini was taking the world by storm, Volkswagen had just revived the Beetle and there was the Chrysler PT Cruiser (we never said they were all good). If this concept had made it a reality, Mazda could’ve been in on the party too.
This is the Mazda Cosmo 21, unveiled at the 2002 Tokyo Auto Salon. As the name hints, it was a tribute to its first rotary-powered sports car - the Cosmo - from 1967.
Based on the then-current NB MX-5, it was hardly recognisable as the soft-top roadster - with practically every panel swapped out to create a throwback look.
Like the original, it featured circular headlights enclosed in bulbous housing - albeit swapping chrome trimming for black here, with a pointy front end and the happiest-looking grille you’ve ever seen.
A-pillar wing mirrors were replaced by a set mounted out on the front wheel arches, with the largest chrome wheels ever to grace an MX-5 appearing too. The largest nod to the Cosmo comes courtesy of rocket booster-like unmistakable taillights. Gone too was the convertible roof - replaced with a hardtop.
Though the exterior gives a lot of nods to the ‘60s, the interior is unmistakably early ‘00s. Practically every surface is satin silver and black - as if someone was inspired by their new PlayStation 2 - with quilted upholstery thrown all over the place. The zebra-pattered seats are another thing inspired by the Cosmo, though.
Most exciting of all, this NB-based concept borrowed the Renesis rotary engine from the recently revealed RX-8. Technical details are scarce, but it was said to produce 247bhp in the Cosmo 21.
Sadly, the Mazda Cosmo 21 remained a concept, leaving us to wonder ‘what if’ when it comes to a rotary MX-5. That said, with the Wankel returning as a range-extender for the MX-30 EV, maybe not all hope is lost.