1970, Rotary Engine, Rotaty engine cutawy.

Mazda took considerable stock in the rotary engine’s ability to help sell small cars in America. It’s worth nothing that not a single rotary-powered Mazda is currently available in the U.S. A 1970 R100 is pictured here, a rotary cutaway behind it.

Seems so long ago now, but it wasn’t really until the late Seventies that Japanese carmakers began making inroads with mainstream American buyers. Before that, the best from Datsun, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota were regarded more as curiosities than as legitimate alternatives to Detroit iron.

Presented here are five ads from the period before American new-car shoppers began checking out the Japanese competition as a matter of course.

More classic car ads

Japanese Car Ads

1970 Datusn

This 1970 pickup, and the “Li’l Hustler” decal were available at Datsun dealers. Only the decal was free, however, the truck started at $1875.



A 1.0-liter twin-rotor Wankel engine provided the Mazda R100 with a solid 100 horsepower, enough to run from 0 to 60 mph in under 11 seconds. A 1970 model is shown here.


1970 Toyota Land Cruiser

Jeep-like in profile, the Toyota Land Cruiser was not Jeep-like in price. This 1970 started at $3320, $390 more than a Jeep CJ-5, but included as standard 4WD, a hard top, 6-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission, and automatic locking hubs.


1974 1970s-subaru-gl-coupe-ad-scooby_ad

Apparently only a car buff could appreciate this Subaru’s “Quadrozontal” 1.4-liter engine. A 1974 GL coupe is shown here.


1078-Honda-Civic-ad, Japanese Car Ads

By 1978 Honda had emerged fully from the cloud of obscurity it had previously operated under. The Accord and Civic names were now in play, and even well recognized by most shoppers. It’s worth noting that the only automatic available in Civic this year was the maker’s aged Hondamatic 2-speed.


More classic car ads for you to check out:

Classic Car Ads: Giant Floating Heads Edition

Equine Madness: Five Great Horse-Loving Vintage Car Ads

Automotive Lemons! 10 Classic Car Ads Featuring Yellow Cars

Taming the Fairer Sex: Classic Car Ads and Submissive Women

Hello, Ladies! Classic Car Brochure Art for Happy Women

V8 Madness! Five Great V8-Loving Vintage Ads

The Lady Likes: Approving Women in Car Ads

V6 Madness! Five Great V6-Loving Vintage ads

Bikini Madness: Five Great Car Ads Set at the Beach

What Was the Deal with Car Ads and Swimming Pools, Air Ports, and Golf Courses?

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Japanese Car Ads

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