Mazda is celebrating the 40th birthday of the iconic RX-7, the heretic rotary sports car that helped the brand build its image across the world.
It was 1978 when Mazda revealed the original RX-7 in its home market; the two-door sports car was powered by a compact yet powerful rotary engine that could be mounted lower and further back, aiding its handling character. The twin-rotary 1.2-liter produced 103hp and could rev up to 7,000rpm.
The original RX-7 ‘FB’ was a massive hit for Mazda, with the company selling more than 470,000 units globally. Mazda’s rotary sports car was a hit with the press too; Car and Driver magazine placed the Mazda RX-7 on its annual Ten Best list five times.Overall, Mazda sold over 800,000 units across three generations of the RX-7.
Mazda introduced turbo power in the RX-7 family with the second ‘FC’ generation in 1985. The 1985 Mazda RX-7 was offered in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged guises, with North American-spec models producing 146hp in the former and 182hp in the latter. Turbo models in other markets offered up to 215hp.
The most iconic model however is the ‘FD’, which debuted in 1992 and stayed in production until 2002. Whereas the previous FC generation took inspiration from the Porsche 944, the FD carved its own way with a timeless shape that still looks modern to this day.
Under the bonnet lies a twin-turbo 13B rotary engine that produced from 252hp to 280hp by the time production ended. The twin-turbo system is sequential, meaning a smaller turbo provided boost at low revs before the larger one took over at around 4,500rpm.
Mazda is proud of the RX-7’s motorsport achievements, which competed in both tracks and rally stages; the rotary-powered Mazda took overall victory in the 1981 Spa 24 Hours, it raced at Le Mans and took part in the crazy world of Group B rallying. In addition the Mazda RX-7 claimed the 1980 and 1981 BTCC titles and scored an unmatched 100 wins in 12 years of IMSA competition.
Sure it might like to drink a little and its apex seals may require attention, but the Mazda RX-7 is one of the most unique sports cars the world has seen and that alone deserves celebration.
Hey Mazda, is it too soon to start asking when the next RX-7 will come?