Last Updated on August 2, 2022 by E. Lindgren
Most people are familiar with the Mazda RX-7 or RX-8, but fewer are familiar with the RX-3, and even less are aware that the RX-3 was also available as a station wagon. Although Japan had a separate name for the RX-3 (Mazda Savanna Sport Wagon) it is not considered a true JDM car.
The Mazda RX-3 or the Mazda Savanna as it was known in Japan is a rotor-powered car produced between 1971 through 1978. The Mazda RX-3 wagon was the first rotor-powered station wagon in the world. Although the RX-3 Wagon (Mazda Savanna Sport Wagon) was only produced from 1972 through 1976.
The Mazda Savanna was very advantageous to own in Japan since automobile laws rewarded small-displacement engines, and since the Mazda RX-3 and Mazda Savanna rotor engine came in a 982 cc and 1146 cc version they became really cheap to own, boosting sales.
Mazda RX-3 Wagon | Mazda Savanna Sport Wagon
The Mazda RX-3 wagon was first manufactured in 1972 and became the first rotor-powered station wagon built. The first generation was produced up until 1973 and became known as the Series One.
Although small by western standards the RX-3 wagon was a convenient family car. But unlike other manufacturers, this station wagon, in particular, had a sporty feel to it as it was lowered, rear-wheel drive (RWD), and featured a 4-speed manual transmission. It was quick too; In the U.S. the RX-3 wagon was by far the fastest estate on the market.
Mazda RX-3 Wagon Engine
The RX-3 Wagon featured two Wankel engine options. The series One sold in Japan, Australia, and Europe featured the 10A engine. The 10A series was Mazda’s first production Wankel engine and featured a two-rotor design. Each chamber with a displacement of 491 cc totaling 982 cc. The power output of the 982cc 10A engine was around 109hp.
Thanks to its low weight of 2070 lbs. (940 kg) and high horsepower the RX-3 wagon could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, or 0 to 100 km/h in 9.9 seconds and had a top speed of 103 mph (165 km/h). This was a fascinating number considering we’re talking about a station wagon in the 70s.
In 1974 the 10A Wankel was discontinued for its bigger brother, the 12A Wankel.
It is known that the U.S. often gets the shorter end of the sticks when it comes to engine options, trim levels, and so on. But that was not the case with the RX-3 Sport Wagon. The U.S. version of the RX-3 ditched the A10 engine for the larger 12A engine. This engine displacement was increased to 1146 cc (2×573 cc) and power was increased to 130hp. There are many claims on the 0 to 60 mph times, but some claim as low as 8.5 seconds or 9.3 seconds 0 to 100 km/h time. RX-3 wagons with the 12A engine could reach top speeds of about 112 mph or 180 km/h.
Mazda RX-3 Wagon Design
Although most of the desire of owning the RX-3 wagon is its unique Wankel engine, the RX-3 wagon was actually very good-looking. It had some fantastic curves, an aggressive face, and rear-view mirrors fitted on either side of the hood. It shares many design cues with the 1969 Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R.
In stock form the Mazda RX-3 wagon is a nice-looking car, it has good proportions and a strong road presence. But once you throw some coil overs or lowering springs at it together with some nice aftermarket JDM wheels you got yourself a stunner! Personally, this is likely my top 3 best looking JDM wagon to have ever existed. And if they weren’t so expensive (to buy & and maintain) then an RX-3 wagon would already be on my driveway. But toys like these cost…a lot.
Buying a RX-3 Wagon & RX-3 Prices
Finding a RX-3 wagon, or Mazda Savanna Sport Wagon for sale is not an easy task. Even with the blooming import business, and hundreds of online auctions in Japan most RX-3 wagons are either crashed, rebuilt for other purposes such as track days or circuit racing, or have fallen victim to the barn collectors. If you happen to find one in decent shape, expect to pay a pretty penny. If you live in the U.S. or Australia chances are that you could find a RX-3 wagon. But your best bet is to utilize some of the top import businesses.
Mazda Savanna GTs which are sold with the 12A engine in Japan can be found anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000 depending on condition and mileage, but are typically worth on average around $50,000 to $75,000. Note that this is without any importing fees, VAT, or taxes.