Mad Mike’s Mazda RX-3 Trobul, RX-5 Xpenzv Are What Rotary Culture Is All About

These days, we have electric motors, but, for well over a century, walking into a showroom with the intention of buying a machine powered by something other than a reciprocating piston engine would lead to nothing… with one exception: the Wankel engine. And while many automakers attempted to make the rotary motor commercially viable, nobody reached the heights Mazda did (some automakers, like Germany’s NSU, even went bankrupt in the process). And while Wankel engines in sportscars are now a thing of the past (emissions…), builds like the Mazda RX-3 and RX-5 pro drifter Mad Mike Whiddett just introduced remind us of the good days.

Sure, the Kiwi slider’s more recent adventures might’ve seen the 40-year-old doing his thing in a Lamborghini Huracan drift car, but machines wearing a Mazda badge remain his bread and butter.

Now, we know little about this example of the 1970s coupe, since Mike only released a few photos of the build on social media, but this much is clear: unlike his Madbul RX-7 (this comes with an RX-3 face swap!), Badbul RX-8, or Radbul MX-5, which are all-out competition efforts, this Trobul RX-3 looks like the kind of street vehicle one might just use for daily driving.

Judging by what we can see in these images, the little thing (a stock example weighs in at about 900 kg/1980 lbs) was built in the spirit of the factory car, so an untrained eye might just mistake it for a stock example.

For one, the air dam up front isn’t unlike the one Mazda offered on specials such as the RX-3 SP back in the day, while somewhat similar fender flares could be spotted on these machines, which were offered in the US, decades ago.

From the metallic bronze shade to the RE12 badges, the front grille and others, this reminds us of the 1972 Savanna GT (the model was dubbed Savanna in Japan), a sportier version that features a larger 12A rotrary motor with 125 hp, lowered suspension and wider wheels—at the bottom of the story, you can see an example of this from the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, captured by YouTuber WasabiCars back in 2013.

Frankly, it looks like MM built himself a full-size version of the Hot Wheels RX-3 he’s already put his name on, albeit with the color scheme being the one mentioned above rather than the scale model’s white-and-blue appearance (check out the second Insta post below for the 1:64 thing).

Well, Trobul features all of the above, dialing them up to eleven: it sits extremely close to the ground, riding on deep-dish wheels that would bring a grim on Satan’s face, while sporting a two-rotor 13B rotary motor whose N/A nature makes the wait for the first video extremely difficult.

Speaking of which, the image that takes us into the engine bay showcases the rotor shaped custom front strut towers—outside its Wankel motor (here’s a four-rotor on Liberty Walk’s R35 GT-R, by the way), the RX-3 was a relatively unsophisticated effort, for instance featuring leaf springs at the back, but we expect the pro drifter to have modded the hell out of the suspension.

And we haven’t even gotten to Mike’s 1977 Mazda Cosmo RX-5 Xpenzv

Work on the car was completed in Mike’s Madlab shop, where he also customized a Mazda RX-5 (known as the Cosmo in its home market, this is an understated two-door from the mid-late 1970s).

“With lockdown and me unable to travel this year this [the RX-3] is what I was able to piece together down at the Madlab, my dream build,” the drifter states on social media.

Larger than the RX-3, this 1977 Cosmo RX5 seems to follow the same OEM+ approach, albeit with a more laid back attitude.

The thing rides on air suspension, with the tank proudly displayed in the trunk, and is meant for the whole family to enjoy.

In fact, here’s how the slip angle master describes this toy on Instagram: “The mission.. start with the least desired Mazda platform from the 70’s and transform it into a family cruiser, something we can enjoy, something you can enjoy and something with a very unique personality and character that no one has seen,

The vinyl top, wheels of custom perfection and a mint interior are just some of the assets of this ride.

And, to stress out the fact that this is a cruiser rather than a sprinter, Mike added that “It won’t be racing as the factory 12a AP [yep, a two-rotor Wankel] will take 15 minutes to get down the 1/4,

So yes, this is yet another two-rotor Wankel effort, albeit one that, as explained by the athlete, comes in standard form.

However, with this level of attention to detail and Japanese car culture development (not to mention betting on an underdog in the spectacular fashion you can see via the gallery below), who’s complaining about this uber-clean RX-5?



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