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RotaryNews Project Car Series: The REPU Part I
Submitted by SuperUser on Friday, August 1, 2003 - 2:23pm

Ahh... the 70's.... Disco, Hawaii Five 0, Watergate, Star Wars, and of course the cars and trucks. Who can forget this decade that reshaped the automotive domain. The cars were large, and the trucks were larger, all except a new breed of trucks, the mini-truck. Pickups like the Chevy LUV, Ford Courier, Toyota and Datsun pickups were popular because of their size, and utility. But there was one mini truck from the 70's that could run rings not only around the other mini trucks, but the larger V8's. In 1974, Mazda introduced the Rotary Engine PickUp or REPU (said: Ree Poo) for short. Built on a Ford Courier frame and body, the REPU had a 4-port 13b, found in the RX-4, combined with a 4 speed manual or a 3 speed auto, and a short geared rear end, the truck was by far the fastest and beefiest in its class.

The little truck was rated at 1400 lbs but is cabable of much more, so not only could you haul a bunch of stuff around, you could just plain haul ass! The 2 rotor 13b 4-port engine gave more grunt than the 1.1 liter 12a. With the RX-4 out at the same time, they were the first 1.3 liter powered vehicles in the Mazda line. With a rear axle ratio of 4.625, the truck flew, but it did limit the top speed. The steering system is a ball and nut, but did boast an independent wishbone type front suspension with coil spring and shock. The rear is what is to be expected for a 70's truck, a leaf spring setup with shocks. The rear brakes were drums, but the fronts were actually disks. The changes from the Ford Courier/Mazda B-series were a taller firewall tunnel to accommodate the rotary's higher output shaft, the grill and headlights were made more aggressive, to match the RX-3 and RX-4's look, with a large Rotary symbol in the center, the fenders were flared fenders to allow larger wheels and tires. Most importantly, around back the REPU received round tail lights, a new tradition in Mazda rotaries, and a very large "ROTARY POWER" decal on the tail gate.

The REPU was only made for the US market. Starting production in 1974 and ending in mid 1977, the REPU had minor modifications through out the run, with one major change on the last year, with a longer cab, and a 5 speed. There were very few factory options, mainly the choice of Manual or Automatic. All other options were dealer added accessories. From the AC, towing mirrors, rear bumper, the dealer had broad control on how to accessorize the REPU. As a result, no two of the 15,000 REPU's sold are quite the same.


There are more resources on the web for the Mazda REPU than most other mini trucks of the 70's. Starting with This site has a fairly active forum, photo gallery, mail list, photo gallery, and links to other REPU sites. The Forum boasts 300 REPU loving members, and nearly 4000 highly informative posts. It is well worth a few hours of your time to browse through the site, reading all there is to read on the REPU, from how to lock the doors, to how to convert the ignition system into "DLIDFIS" setup.

Another very popular site is REPUGuru's very own site at His site includes pics from the 70's through today, links, and an introduction to the REPU.

Another site hosted off of GeoCities is XP882's With more photos and links, it is another good site to bookmark.

A mail list for the REPU is available from the
Groups at Yahoo.

It is a fairly low volume list, but the information that does come down the pipe is valuable.

Finding a REPU

As with any rare car, a REPU can be hard to locate. Those who really want one sometimes travel thousands of miles to obtain one. There is a set of hard core REPU enthusiasts that visit that can go on and on about how they searched for their REPU... other than the ones that bought them new. If you are interested in obtaining a piece of Rotary history, the following information should help you on the search.

The West Coast seems to be a hot bed of REPUs or varying conditions. Portland, OR seems to be the epicenter of REPU's, since that was the port most of them came to the US. Southern California is another good area to locate a REPU, by shear mass of cars. Contact local RX clubs and put feelers in the area out. Also, check local news papers, as once in a while a REPU will appear.

As with most anything these days, you can find REPU's for sale on Ebay. If a search for REPU doesn't come up with any results try "Mazda Rotary Pickup." There are some other popular classified sites that have carried REPU's in the past. The Parts, Recycler, and Yahoo Autos have all had REPUs listed.

RotaryNews Project REPU

To start the series of project cars, the REPU was an obvious choice. We located a REPU in Arizona that was already a "Project." As best we can tell, the original engine was over heated in 1994, with 130,000 miles on the clock. The body was straight, save dings and pings in the bed, and it was an automatic. After sitting in dormant for 5 years it was purchased by an RX-7 enthusiast who happened to have a wrecked 1983 GSL, with a perfectly running 12a with a 5speed. He began the process of swapping the engine and manual tranny in, but as with many projects, he ran out of steam before it could be completed.

He put it up for sale, and before you know it, he's towing it up to Las Vegas, NV, to begin the our project. With the bed filled with junk, and five plus years of sand, oil and dirt piled up, the first order of business was to clean. With the help of a pressure washer, diesel fuel, and a ton of scrubbing, the truck was in a state where it could be worked on without being caked with grit.

The truck was not in a derivable state when delivered. The engine swap complete, but the clutch hydraulics were not finished. After a call to MazdaTrix and some internet research, we ended up with a working clutch pedal assembly, master, slave, and hydraulic lines. Now it was time for a test drive. In a word, Slow. The 12a from the 83 GSL might be OK for the RX-7, but not for the REPU.

The next stage of the project will address this with an engine swap. We will go into the how-to and outline the gotcha's for a swap. After that, we'll go into the body work and interior. The REPU is the first of a series of RotaryNews Project Cars, so stay tuned for more ROTARY POWER in the future.

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Repus and with some other car
July 23, 2009 - 12:55am
Repus and with some other cars and trucks has a very great reputation to people. These models are very fast, refined, sporty, reliable exhaust systems and great to drive! They certainly live up to the Repus reputation!
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repu in oz?
No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
cheers from cairns,australia.did any repus make it downunder?i have converted a mazda 1000 ute to rotary power but havent seen a repu before.we have courier b series utes so a replica is possible,but an original would be rare.i look forward to the rest of yor project! cheers from shane
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No title supplied
No Rotor
December 31, 1969 - 4:00pm
you what to sale rotary
cars or picks
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