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Mazda celebrates 50 years of rotary power

Iconoclastic engine design has fueled sports car dreams, motorsports glory and the automotive world's imagination.

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Chris Paukert

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The Cosmo 110S kicked off Mazda's rotary revolution 50 years ago, and its emphasis on athletic driving still powers the company's driving-focused mission today.

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In 1991, Mazda won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 2.6-liter, four-rotor Wankel. The 787B isn't just the only nonreciprocating engine design ever to win the legendary race -- it's the only overall win for an Asian automaker.

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Mazda's first-generation RX-7 was a global hit.

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Mazda's third-generation RX-7, known as the FD, was its highest-performing iteration. It exited production in 2002.

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Mazda's unusual RX-8 wasn't a true coupe -- it had a pair of small secondary doors that were rear-hinged like on an extended-cab pickup truck.

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Look ma, no pistons!

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Mazda's Cosmo 110S was the first production two-rotor Wankel, and it jumpstarted the automaker's interest in producing driver's cars.

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The RX-8 was Mazda's last production rotary-powered offering. It exited production in 2012.

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Mazda's REPU -- Rotary Engine Pick Up -- was offered from 1974 to 1977.

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Yep, Mazda's rotary engine even made it into a commercial bus.

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Mazda's rotary-powered family is nothing if not diverse.

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Continue clicking or swiping through this gallery to see more of Mazda's half century of rotary history.

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Mazda last tempted rotary fans in 2015 with the debut of this stunning RX-Vision concept. It never saw production.

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