As one of the most popular cars in Mazda history, the RX-7 still remains one of the most popular Mazda stock cars today, even though it hasn’t been in production since 2002.
With a front rotary engine and rear-wheel drive design, this compact two-seater coupe spanned through three generations, each better than the one before.
So just what are the reasons that car enthusiasts everywhere consider this Mazda to be one of the best Japanese sports cars ever made? Let’s dig in and find out!
The History of the Mazda RX-7
The Mazda RX-7 first made its debut back in 1978 as an alternative to V-8 engines. The engine instead used a unique rotary engine from Wankel. Rotary engines are made with rotors that revolve around a shaft in the center rather than reciprocating pistons. Though smooth and powerful, these motors were eventually sentenced to death because they weren’t very reliable and the fuel economy was sub-par.
The RX-7 was a successor of the RX-3 (1967-1972) and came complete with a 1146cc twin-rotor engine, providing drivers with 100 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque, impressive for the time.
Innovations and Technology of the Mazda RX-7 – The Most Beloved Classic Car
The very last of the Mazda RX-7s, known by some as the “Spirit R”, was produced in 2002. It came with a twin-turbo rotary engine, and adjustable rear wing, and top-notch Bilstein shocks. There were only 1500 of them made. It was available in three different models, including two-seater, five-speed manual, four-seater, four-speed automatic, and four-seater, five-speed manual.
Each model has an interior fitted with Recaro red bucket seats, both comfortable and nostalgic. There are also BBS-manufactured 17-inch tires on each, soft-coated interior panels, red brake calipers, and ventilated disk brakes.
A Timeline of the Mazda RX-7
- Mazda RX-7 – First Generation (1978-1985)
The first version of the RX-7, referred to as the SA22C version, came with three different engine specifications, including 1,146 cc 12A rotary, 1,146 cc turbocharged 12A rotary, and 1,308 cc 13B-RESI rotary. Drivers had the option to choose between four and five-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The Series 1 (1978-1980) was the very first one, and was built to replace the MX-3. The Series 2 (1981-1983) came complete with plastic-covered bumpers and updated engine components, much longer overall. The Series 3 (1984-1985) has a lower front fascia and an updated control panel cluster with an option for a GSL-SE fuel injection upgrade.
- Mazda RX-7 – Second Generation (1985-1992)
The Mazda RX-7, referred to as the “Series 4” or “FC” model, came about in 1986. It was available in 2-door coupe and 2-door convertible models with a large selection of turbocharged and non-turbocharged Wankel rotary engines. It utilized the Mazda FC, rear-wheel drive platform and had upgraded rear suspension for more precise steering and control.
The convertible version of the Series 4 was released in 1988, using a naturally-aspirated engine. The convertible used a rigid overhead section with folding fabric that was completely power operated. They also released a 10th Anniversary Edition in 1988 with a monochromatic white coloring, 7-spoke wheels, and a design based off of the RX-7 Turbo II.
- Mazda RX-7 – Third Generation (1992-2002)
The third generation Mazda RX-7, known as the “Series 5” or “FD”, was the very first sequential twin-turbocharged system to ever be mass-produced in Japan. The horsepower was updated to 252 in the first iteration, reaching 276 hp by the time production had been cut near the end of the generation.
This two-door coupe could either be purchased with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. A high-performance model was released in 1995, known as the RX-7 SP, and was meant for racing. It utilized carbon fiber components, modified ECU, and 357 lb-ft of torque.
The Mazda RX-7 In the News
A heavily-modified RX-7 went head-to-head with a V-6 Miata this past June on the Nurburgring. The RX-7 had been souped up with a larger turbo engine and more aerodynamic components. They also added in a digital gauge cluster and a tall shifter for extra control.
It has been noted that the Fast and Furious movies have had an intense effect on the prices of Japanese sports cars, one of them being the RX-7. Car buyers can now expect the prices to inflate for the few years, with a 1993 model currently averaging around $33,000.
Mazda RX-7 Celebrity Endorsements
The RX has been seen in a variety of movies and video games, one of the most obvious and popular being the Fast and the Furious series, with stars such as Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Even though the car is pretty famous from a theatrical and video game point of view, it’s not the most popular among A-List celebrities. We do know, however, that Jeff Probst (the host of CBS’s “Survivor”) owns and loves his RX-7.
Best Mazda RX-7 Groups
Because the Mazda RX-7 is such an iconic car, and because it has so many years under its belt, you can be assured that there is a MASSIVE following. One of the best places to seek out communities for the RX-7 is the RX7 Club online. This forum-based website has an array of RX-7 discussion pages, a full-stocked gallery, and much more.
The Mazda Rotary Club is another great place to start. Here you can find rotary engine enthusiasts from all around the world.
The Mazda RX-7 – The Iconic Car With a Refusal of Compromise
There is no question that this is a strange car for so many people around the world to love. It has some magic to it. Even after three generations and a variety of upgrades, it still stands up to modern supercars in the books of many car enthusiasts.
At the time of production, it was built for speed, utilizing engine technology that had not been thought of before. Even now, the nostalgic sounds and feel of the car keep it well and alive in the eyes and minds of modern car lovers everywhere.