Fantasy Friday – Mazda RX-7

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Ah, youth!

What do they say? Youth is wasted on the young?

When I was a 14 year old kid, there was no hotter car than the Lamborghini Countach that adorned bedroom walls all over the country. The Countach was made from unobtanium, though. The hottest car you could see on the street and dream about owning was the Mazda RX-7 – and it was sub-zero cool.

The RX-7 had all the attributes – two doors, swooping lines with a small cabin and a long nose, the all-important pop-up headlamps and some weird engine that nobody else had. It made Mazda stand out from the crowd and gave them an air of quality and sportiness that other Japanese companies simply couldn’t match (later to be extended by the MX-5).

The Mazda RX-7 debuted in the late 1970’s and the company produced more than 800,000 units over eight series, right up until 2002.

I can remember driving a Series 7 model with the twin-turbo setup in the early-mid 1990’s and it was the fastest car I’d ever driven at the time. Pure exhilaration and a very well finished car. The series 7 and 8 cars still look fantastic today, actually.

Blue RX-7But the car that started my RX-7 dream was the Series 3 and that’s the model I want to focus on today. This was the last of the original shape RX-7’s. It not only looks sporty, but in the right colour it also looks really classy. I was especially fond of it in metallic medium blue.

The early RX-7’s weren’t blessed with heaps of power or torque, but the lightweight rotary engine helped keep the weight down to around 1,000kgs so power-to-weight was competitive for the time. Weight distribution was 50/50 thanks to Mazda’s mid-forward engine configuration along with a rear-wheel driveline.

I had a ride in a workmate’s 1985 model Series 3 car during the week and two things stood out to me:

  1. The RX-7 is very 1980’s but it’s aged extremely well. The dashboard does look dated now but it’s comfortable inside and it still feels special when you look around the cabin.
  2. The light weight makes a difference. The 12A engine only put out just over 100hp and the early 13B only 30hp more, but Matt’s RX-7 got down the road very nicely. We didn’t get to drive it through any twisties but I reckon it’d be a very nice car for a cruise.

This video’s not particularly good quality (it’s a recording of TV show) but it’ll give you a nice 5-minute overview of the Series 3 RX-7.

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For Sale

There are no RX-7’s for sale in my favourite blue at the moment, so here’s one in a more common red. I picked this one because it’s got the much more attractive grey/black interior. There are quite a few nasty brown interiors out there but I’d avoid those if I were looking around. Brown hasn’t dated well.

This car has aftermarket wheels and seats and it looks pretty tidy, over all. It’s for sale in South Australia for $11,500.

Yes, RX7’s are holding their value nicely.

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6 Comments

  1. Swade… I read your RX7 article and must say that I was so unimpressed with the RX7 compared to the much more expensive Porsche 944, that I bought a June 1982 first generation 944 on European Delivery.

    I still have it… it’s virtually bullet proof (with occasional cam belts) and is still a blast to drive. In our part of the world (PA / USA) all of the RX7s have been sacrificed to the rust god. The 944 still has no issues at almost 32 years of age. And it does not look dated.

    I used to switch back and forth between my 1980 3 door SAAB Turbo and the 944 and that was interesting at 9/10ths — slightly different characteristics. We still have the 944 + 6 SAABs + 1 Volvo XC90 in the family… and currently have 30+ cm snow on the ground. The 944 comes out again in April.

    1. Jan, the 944 is indeed in a different league. I took my co-worker (who owns the RX7 I rode in this week) for a ride in my 968 a few days later and he was blown away.

      But the 944 was in a different league in terms of price, too. At least here in Australia.

      This was never meant to be a comparison, though. It’s about the individual car’s place in people’s memory and affection. The RX7 holds its head up regardless of what else is around.

      1. Yes the price was different… +/- US$ 21,000 for the 944 and only +/- US$ 14,000-15,000 if I remember correctly… but you couldn’t get a 944 for love or money, and they continued to hold an above retail value for 4 or 5 years until supply caught-up with demand… and here it had to be “Indisch Rot” called “Guards Red” in English… Mine is “Platin” with a brown interior.

        Many more RX7s were sold… and we don’t see them any more at all… those that didn’t rust away had engines blown-up by subsequent owners… Then it is also hard to find an original 944 that is clean, which is why the values are starting to go up again.

        Picture available, if you’d like!

  2. The weird thing is that for some reason I am actually getting a very vivid ‘smell memory’ from viewing the photo of that interior. Wow! Eau de Maz Da! The unique parfum de plastique und vinyl that is 1983 in hot sun on a 44 degree day. Nothing like it.
    Maybe A.M. could be featured in a retrospective racing moment where he conquered the mountain, beating the big boys at their own game. That race put the little pocket rocket well and truly on my radar at the time. Fantastic shape that will never date. How much soul ended up in the MX-5 too…lots.

  3. “Wow! Eau de Maz Da! The unique parfum de plastique und vinyl that is 1983 in hot sun on a 44 degree day.” My folks had a 323 1.6i (slightly later but still 80s) when I was a halfling. I remember that smell.

    A fairer comparison with the RX-7 is presumably the Porsche 924?

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