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Now-Dead Cars That Launched 10 Years Ago

Automotive anniversaries are often big news. Last year, the Chevrolet Corvette turned 60 and the Porsche 911 hit 50. This year, the spritely Mazda MX-5 Miata turns 25. The iconic Ford Mustang just turned the big Five-Oh, too.

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We have some very sad news to report, rotor-heads fans: Don't expect a new rotary-powered vehicle anytime soon. This comes straight from Masamichi Kogai, the CEO of Mazda, which is the only company to ever market a commercially successful rotary-powered automobile in the world. The issue, as it has pretty much always been, is environmental.

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According to Edmunds, Mazda engineers are pressuring the company to create more rear-wheel-drive models, in an effort to better differentiate itself from its rivals. This push is reportedly coming from middle and senior engineers within the company, and these folks at Mazda believe this rear-drive strategy would allow the automaker to produce more distinctive, fun to drive cars. Mazda discontinued the rear-drive (and rotary-engined) RX-8 a few years ago, leaving the MX-5 Miata as the company's o

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There are very few vehicles available today that compare directly with the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins. A case could be made for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and possibly even six-cylinder versions of American coupes like the Ford Mustang. Pretty much everything else is either too expensive or is powered by the wrong set of wheels.

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There is a special place in our hearts reserved for the Mazda RX-7. Its screaming rotary engine made the '80s and '90s a time of high-revving fun. While Mazda continued the rotary with the four-door RX-8, the two are not the same car, and eventually the latter was phased out.

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Ah, the Wankel. You magnificent, high-reving feat of unorthodox engineering. Your biggest champion, Mazda, may have left you – at least for the moment – but that doesn't mean some mad mechanics can't rally you and a few friends for a high-horsepower party.

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Mark it down, auto enthusiasts. Mazda built its last rotary engine on Friday, June 22. By final, we mean the line that assembled Renesis engines for Mazda's RX-8 sports car was idled, and there are currently no plans to restart its production. Mazda has a long-running history of building Wankel powerplants, and its production of the high-revving engine has seen a few stutters since Mazda put the first dual-rotor Wankel in a production car in 1967. Of course, it's always possible that Mazda

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And now for some good news from Mazda: it is doubling the run of its limited edition RX-8 Spirit R, adding 1,000 more units to production due to demand. Announced late last year, this Japan-only model celebrates the end of the RX-8's nine-year existence. The final Wankel-engined four-door is scheduled to roll off the line in June.

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As we prepare to flip our calendars from 2011 to 2012, it's time to say goodbye to a handful of vehicles that are being sent to the Great Parking Lot In The Sky before the 2012 model year completely takes hold. And while we're not exactly upset about having to bid farewell to things like the Mitsubishi Endeavor, Mazda Tribute or Chevrolet HHR, there are a few vehicles that we're truly going to miss.

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In the soap opera saga of are they or aren't they still developing a rotary engine, Mazda seems to have indicated the affirmative. According to a translation of a Tweet from Mazda PR posted on a Japanese car blog, a "new model with a next-generation rotary engine" is in development.

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Mazda has chosen to commemorate the departure of the company's RX-8 with one last special edition in Japan. The Mazda RX-8 Spirit R is set to arrive at Japanese dealerships next month and will offer 1,000 lucky buyers a host of aesthetic upgrades over the base vehicle. The package starts with an RX-8 RS and adds in exclusive badging, unique head- and taillights with black bezels and red brake calipers outside. Indoors, the cabin wears special Spirit R bucket seats hewn by the people at Recaro as

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Toyota-Ford tie-up, Mazda RX-8 and Dakota cancelled, VW Up!, Cadillac ELR

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We record Episode #244 of the Autoblog Podcast tonight, and you can drop Chris, Dan and Zach your questions via our Q&A module below. Check out our discussion topics or chime in to help determine what else the crew chats about this evening, too. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

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Automotive News is reporting that Mazda has stopped production of its RX-8 sports car due to lackluster sales and ever tighter global emissions standards. Mazda managed to move a mere 1,134 of the models last year, and 2011 hasn't treated the rotary any better. Sales are down 21 percent through July. The Japanese automaker was forced to remove the model from European showrooms last year after it failed to meet emissions standards, and the company says that it simply can't justify continuing to m

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At the end of 2011, the Mazda RX-8 rotary-powered sport coupe/sedan will cease to exist in new-car showrooms. With it, the mass-produced rotary engine will take another hiatus. The original plan was to have the Renesis, the world's only mass-produced rotary, come back maybe as early as 2017 in a new sports car. In fact, we just heard reports that Mazda's rotor-obsessed gearhead engineers were still manning the program, albeit at a reduced pace.

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Fear not, rotaryphiles. According to a report from The Detroit News, Mazda isn't giving up on the rotary engine anytime soon. Though the RX-8 is headed for the production guillotine, Mazda execs have apparently confirmed that engineers are working on a more efficient and more powerful version of the Wankel. While the project was technically back-burnered during the economic downturn, the research wasn't canned outright. That means that there's a chance that the rotary could make a comeback. What

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2012 Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Cruze diesel, bending Ford SVT Raptor frames

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