Carnucopia: Laren's 1991 Eunos Cosmo
The word cornucopia implies an abundant variety of good things and ever since I decided to take my car photography more seriously I've discovered just that - an abundant variety of cool subjects to take photos of. Starting today I'll be spotlighting interesting cars I've had the good fortune of photographing in this new series of CARnocupia posts. First off, we have my friend Laren's 1991 Eunos Cosmo.
Don't recognize the name? Well, that's not a surprise since this car was strictly a JDM vehicle sold under a short-lived subbrand of Mazda called Eunos. The car and the brand were conceived in the heady days of the '80s and early '90s when Japan's economy seemed poised to take over the world and possibly some adjoining planets. Nipponese carmakers decided to diversify their offerings and as a result we had the genesis of names like Infiniti, Lexus, and Acura. To challenge the new luxury offerings from their rivals Mazda came up with their own unique brands. Eunos was one of several they used in Japan and for the US they had planned to use the name Amati.
The Cosmo name on the other hand dates back to 1967, and despite only having three previous generations it was always a "halo" car for Mazda. It seemed only fitting therefore that they chose that name in 1989 for a luxurious new GT car to show off the best they had to offer and spearhead their push into the luxury market.
The fourth-gen Cosmo - the "JC" series - really did show off Mazda's best. In the engine bay you had several firsts. Two engines were on offer: the base 13B-REW and the big daddy 20B-REW. The 13B will be familiar to many an import fan because it's the twin-rotor mill that powers the RX-7 that Americans are more familiar with. The 20B on the other hand was Mazda's very first production triple-rotor engine. Both motors also boasted the first application of sequential turbocharging in a mass production vehicle. The one-after-the-other configuration of the turbos in the 20B-equipped Cosmo resulted in nice, smooth, fairly lag-free power delivery and "276" horsepower - that felt more like 300 because that's what it really put out. The Cosmo, just like the Skylines and other Japanese performance cars of the period, stuck to the silly "gentlemans agreement" that supposedly capped power to that arbitrary number but was really adhered to about as well as presidential campaign promises in an election year.
Besides having a unique motor the Cosmo also featured some really amazing electronic whizbangery inside. Nowadays we take it for granted that many new cars have built-in GPS to make sure we know exactly where we are when we're lost, touchscreen displays for us to leave oily fingerprints all over, and integrated control units for the AC and radio to make sure we end up on the local gospel station whenever we want to turn up the heater. Back in the late '80s that was proper Star Trek stuff however and the Cosmo was the first car to have ALL of that with its fancy Car Communication System or CCS. Yes, back in 1990 when the car first went on sale to the public lucky Japanese owners could fiddle with small inscrutable buttons and jab at a fingerprint-smeared screen to make absolutely sure they drove to exactly the wrong place, just like we all now do today! Except many of us choose to do that on our phones now because THIS IS THE FUTURE!
Aside from the futuristic electronics the Cosmo also boasted a wraparound dash that flowed into the doors and looked like it had been ripped out of Captain Kirk's daily driver. The sumptuous leather and lounge-like atmosphere certainly would have helped woo green-skined space babes - not that old James T. needed any help in that department.
Even the air vents are interesting - not only do you have these ones that reside next to the interior door handles on each side but this car is one of very few with a central vent under the steering wheel to ensure your crotch stays at the proper temperature at all times. I'm not sure how much Captain Kirk would have liked that but it's proof right there that mankind's progress hasn't entirely been in a forward direction.
Just like Infiniti has a badge unique from its parent brand Nissan, Eunos had it's own logo - this stylized rotor that speaks of Mazda's love for the house of Wankel. Back in the nineties cars still had names instead of serial numbers like 325i, A8, CT6, or HK-47 Mark 32 - and the Cosmo's name is written proudly on the trunklid in equally nineties script.
The rotor logo doesn't just show up in the obvious places like the trunk and nose of the car...
...but also on these nifty shock tower covers in the engine bay.
The high tech features and fancy details were reflected in the JC Cosmo's price with the top-of-the-line CCS and 20B equipped cars asking for 5.3 million Japanese mini-dollars (aka yen) back in 1990 - or the equivalent of over 60 grand of American real dollars today. Unfortunately for the fourth-gen Cosmo the Japanese bubble economy burst in the mid-nineties and this derailed the Japanese carmakers' plans of galactic domination (saving us from renaming Saturn to "Ringu-san"). Amati never made it off the drawing board and Eunos was eventually euthanized. Only about 9000 JC Cosmos in total were ever sold due to their premium price - that might sound like a lot at first blush but that's far less than all the R34 GT-Rs ever sold. Even fewer were fully loaded triple-rotor and CCS-equipped cars. Laren's just happens to be one of those rare ones and he's enjoyed it immensely since importing it through JDM Expo earlier this year. He's a true Mazdafarian with a big collection including a couple of older Cosmos and a rare FC RX-7 convertible. This Cosmo is the latest addition to his stash and it was fun having a chance to photograph this rare and historic car!