Lost Concept Cars: Mazda Furai

Concepts

It seems, to me, you lived your life like a candle in the wind.

For a design that's almost as old as the automotbile itself, the rotary engine is quite a rare sight in cars. Sure, a number of cars over the years have had a stab at conquering the pistonless powerplant: the Citroen GS Birotor, NSU Ro80 and Mercedes-Benz C111 development prototype, to name but a few. But the outcomes of these ventures were often calamitous (in NSU's case, the company went bankrupt as a result of repairing so many unreliable rotary engines under warranty). Of all the firms that have stuck rotaries in road cars, only Mazda has managed to make the formula work.

What's even more impressive is that, over the 50-plus years Mazda has committed to rotary engine development, some truly cracking cars have come out of the project. The Mazda Cosmo sports cars, the RX-3, the RX-8 and countless RX-7 variants have all proven the "Wankel" system can work in a road car. Mazda was even able to get the rotary to work on the motor racing stage. Not only is the RX-7 the most successful car in IMSA racing history, but Mazda was able to defy all the odds and almost flawlessly win the 1991 Le Mans endurance race with its iconic 787B closed-cockpit prototype. Understandably, then, Mazda has an admiration for its rotary-powered racing cars, which was made most apparent with its Furai concept car from 2007.

You Might Also Like
These Are The Most Extreme Lamborghinis Ever Made
These Are The Most Extreme Lamborghinis Ever Made
10 Amazing Paint To Sample Porsche 911 GT2 RS Colors
10 Amazing Paint To Sample Porsche 911 GT2 RS Colors

Though officially a case study of the firm's then-new "Nagare" design language (which would only ever lend itself to one road car: the Mazda Premacy minivan), Mazda actually had some serious plans for the Furai on the race track. Having motorsports-orientated ambitions certainly helps explain why the Furai was based on a Le Mans Prototype chassis. Not only was it a clear indicator of what inspired the Furai in the first place, but it also meant the barmy concept would be a fully functioning vehicle. That combined with its incredible design littered with beautiful flourishes (the mesmerizing tail light arrangement will always be a highlight) made it a definitive crowd-pleaser wherever it went.

Which made the ultimate fate of the Mazda Furai all the more tragic. It's likely that you already know the story behind it but for those who aren't aware, all that's left of the Furai (assuming Mazda is still in possession of it) is a charred hunk of carbon fiber. The tale's even more jaw-dropping when you remember that Mazda and Top Gear Magazine (the publication that was doing a feature on the Furai on the fateful day it caught alight) were able to keep the details of the disaster under lock and key until a year later. It's probably the surprise announcement that lead to it being such a headline-grabbing news story at the time, and still something that brings a tear to our eye every time we see the pictures documenting the event.

As with the Isuzu 4200R and TVR Project 7/12 we discussed earlier in our "Lost Concept Cars" series, there is at least the solace of knowing we can experience the Mazda Furai in a broad array of racing games, as well as see it in action via countless videos on YouTube.

But a little bit of us will never get over the fact this stunning concept car that captured the imaginations of countless car enthusiasts the world over is now nothing more than a burnt-out chassis tucked away in the corner of Mazda's basement somewhere.

Fake Lamborghini Murcielago SV Reverse-Engineered By Iran

The Chinese couldn’t have done it better.

Hennessey Trackhawk Is World's Quickest SUV

That's what a thousand horsepower will do for ya.

5 Things You Need To Know About The 2019 BMW X5

After driving the car for the first time, here are our key takeaways.

Watch The BMW M2 Competition Lap The Ring In 7:52

That was supercar territory not long ago.

Kim Jong-un Gets Classy With New Ride

So much for sanctions.

Drifting A 1,000-HP Corvette On Mountain Roads Takes Some Serious Skill

Thought drifting the entire Nurburgring was challenging? Try it in a 1,000-hp Corvette on a mountain road with no safety rails.

Hennessey Heritage Edition Ford Truck Makes More Power Than Anything You’ve Got

This crazy beast is even more powerful than the Ford GT.

Ford Imagines A Future With No Traffic Lights

Stopping at junctions could be a thing of the past in the future.

What's Hot

Related Cars

Starting MSRP
$21,950

Related Reviews

2016 Mazda6 Review: How A Mid-Size Sedan Can Prevent A Mid-Life Crisis
Test Drive
59
2016 Mazda6 Review: How A Mid-Size Sedan Can Prevent A Mid-Life Crisis
2017  Mazda Mazda6  Review
Model Overview
0
2017 Mazda Mazda6 Review
2017 Mazda 6 Test Drive Review: A Beautiful Sedan That Needs More Love
Test Drive
10
2017 Mazda 6 Test Drive Review: A Beautiful Sedan That Needs More Love
2018 Mazda 6 Test Drive Review: Boost Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
Test Drive
2
2018 Mazda 6 Test Drive Review: Boost Makes The Heart Grow Fonder