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1993 Eunos/Mazda Cosmo Classic Drive
Uncosmopolitan: Meet the Rarest Mazda in America

By Scott Evans | Photos By Jessica Walker | From the February 2012 issue of Motor Trend |

MOTOR TREND




As you well know, there are many ultra-rare cars traveling America's roadways and hiding in her garages. Some are factory-built custom jobs; some are lucky survivors. This one is different. It's the only production car of its type in the land, and the only fourth-generation Mazda Cosmo that's ever seen our shores.

It's more rare, in fact, than the first-generation Cosmo you may recall from Motor Trend Classic, Issue Two. That beautiful 1967 was one of three in America of which we're aware. Jay Leno owns another of the three, and the third car parks next to this 1993 car in Mazda's not-so-secret garage beneath the company's R&D facility in Southern California. If, as Todd Lassa wrote in Issue Two, the original Cosmo is "little known here, even among those hard-core car nuts," this last-generation car is a complete unknown.

Why, then, is it here? The assumption, of course, is that Mazda was exploring the idea of selling this Cosmo in the U.S. in the early 1990s. In fact, that's partially correct. At the time of the Cosmo's debut at the 1989 Tokyo motor show, Mazda was seriously considering launching its own Lexus/Infiniti/Acura-fighting luxury brand in the U.S. called Amati. The Cosmo was being considered as the new brand's flagship car, but when the Amati plan was scrapped, so was the Cosmo. The only survivor of that ill-advised venture would become the Mazda Millenia.

This Cosmo, though, was not imported in the early 1990s. It was actually imported only six years ago by Mazda USA engineering chief Kelvin Hiraishi to add to Mazda North America's heritage collection, and was shown at Mazda and rotary enthusiast shows. Prior to its arrival here, this Cosmo was one of Mazda's development cars and accumulated most of its fewer than 3800 miles on and around the Miyoshi test track, which explains why it rides on 1992 wheels rather than 1993's BBS wheels. Since making the rounds at American shows, it's been sitting quietly in a corner of the famous garage. A testament to its quality of engineering, the Cosmo started right up after more than half a decade of inactivity.

But what is it, and why does it say Eunos on the back? Eunos was the Japanese market's version of Amati, and the Cosmo was its flagship. Despite outreach to automotive journalists in Australia and the U.K., both natural markets for a right-hand-drive car, the Cosmo would be sold only in Japan. While the car received rave reviews from the English-speaking press, which nearly unanimously declared it a direct challenger to the V-12 Jaguar XJS, Mazda feared the massive price tag would make the car unviable. With aspirations of taking on Jaguar, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, the maker intentionally limited production to ensure build quality and exclusivity. The result was a starting price of roughly $27,200 in 1990 dollars, climbing to a lofty $43,650 for a top-spec car, making it the most expensive car Mazda has ever sold. Adjusted for inflation, that's nearly $74,000 today. For comparison, a 1991 Lexus SC 400, with its 250-hp, 4.0-liter V-8, started at $37,500, and that Jaguar the Brits and Aussies were going on about started at $46,700. Still, the Cosmo was less than the $77,700 BMW 850i, and a bargain compared to the $92,700 Mercedes- Benz 500SL.

Read more at the link above.
 
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