It’s such a beautiful little car though, the odd mix of European and American styling influences and the name all reflecting the space race-inspired optimism.
The bubble-topped cabin is cosy and, wooden Nardi steering wheel aside, functionally trimmed with a large, driver-oriented instrument binnacle.
It’s easy to drive though, the five-speed gearbox positive while the controls are all perfectly positioned and weighted and, once you’re in, it even feels more spacious than the looks would suggest.
Appropriately the character of that Wankel engine dominates the driving experience, be that in sound, smell or sensation. It splutters angrily at low speeds but once out of town the characteristic smoothness and appetite for revs are an utter delight.
The Cosmo thrives on them, the searing howl of the rotary filling your ears as the speeds build. You need to keep it on the boil, too, the (also characteristic) lack of torque meaning there’s a lot more noise than acceleration, while the lack of inertia in the engine means the revs drop in an instant between gears.
Smooth progress therefore requires deft timing and expert footwork, but it’s all part of the fun.
For all its daintiness and reputation for mechanical fragility, the little Mazda feels tough and capable of being driven hard for long periods, a quality demonstrated in some style in the 1968 Marathon de la Routes in an epic 84-hour non-stop drive and fourth place finish.
Beautifully balanced on a twisting road and impressively stable at three-figure speeds on a modern German Autobahn, you can appreciate how it succeeded in this environment.
Mazda’s enthusiasm for proving rotary technology in racing continuing through the 1970s and 1980s, culminating with a win at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours for the ear-splitting 787B.
Mazda hasn’t had a rotary powered car in its range since the RX-8 left the scene in 2012 but the company is happy to define itself by its association with the technology it one day hopes to revive.
As such the Cosmo Sport deserves its iconic reputation, not to mention wider recognition and appreciation.