10 Things We Just Learned About The Mazda RX-7

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10 Things We Just Learned About The Mazda RX-7
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The Mazda RX-7 is perhaps one of the most influential cars to come out of Japan in the past 50 years. A popular choice for tuners, and for racing teams, the RX-7 and its Wankel Rotary engine have cemented their legacy as arguably being Mazda’s most popular and innovative cars in its decades-long history. Starting with the first generation Savanna RX-7s, the 2-door coupe has constantly pushed boundaries and has now become synonymous with the Japanese Domestic Market or JDM scene. But what makes this car so special and unique? Here are 10 things we just learned about Mazda’s RX-7.

The Revolutionary Wankel Rotary Engine
It’d be impossible to talk about the RX-7 without mentioning the Wankel Rotary engine. The engine works on the principle of having an inscribed triangle move inside an epitrochoid figure. In other words, the triangular piston moves inside what could be described as a pinched oval, when it does, it creates empty spaces inside the chamber for the air and the fuel to come in. As it moves further through the chamber, the air gets compressed enough to create a mini explosion inside the chamber before moving again as the combustion gases then exit the chamber through the exhaust port. The engine gained popularity as it could generate massive amounts of power with a relatively small displacement.

How Mazda Adopted The Engine
Felix Wankel, who invented the rotary engine as a teenager only began marketing it after World War II while working for a motorcycle company called NSU. In 1959, NSU invited auto manufacturers around the world to witness the revolutionary new engine. Jujiro Matsuda, who was the head of the Toyo Kyogo company — which made rickshaws under the brand name Mazda Go — was deeply impressed with the engine. He licensed the engine and took a prototype to Japan. In 1961, the engineers at Mazda Go began working on it. The engine had reliability issues, mainly the triangular piston damaging the chamber. Through great trial and error, the engineers fitted the triangular piston with graphite from pencils at the ends of the triangle. They called them Apex Seals. This greatly improved the engine’s reliability and Mazda finally put it for the first time in their 1967 pioneering sports car called the Cosmo 110.

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The Birth Of The RX-7 – First Generation
During the gas crisis in the 1970s, Mazda had to abandon the rotary engine because of its poor efficiency. However, in the late ’70s, the market had recovered enough for Mazda to work on a new car with the rotary engine. In 1978, Mazda unveiled the RX-7, called the Savanna in Japan with the 12A rotary engine. It was meant to replace the RX-3, but it ended up replacing Mazda’s entire rotary engine lineup excluding the Cosmo and the Luce. The Lotus Elan inspired the first generation RX-7’s design. The RX-7 weighed around 2,500 pounds and had a 0-60 mph time of 9.2 seconds. The series 2 and 3 were called the FB, while the series 3 also introduced the 1.3-liter 13B rotary engine option with electronic fuel injection. There was also a turbo version. It ended production in 1985.

The RX-7 Improved With The Second Generation
Mazda unveiled its second generation RX-7 in 1985 with the FC3S. Mazda took inspiration from the Porsche 944 and the Porsche 928 when designing the FC3S RX-7. With this generation, the RX-7 was officially classified as a touring car instead of a sports car. It featured an upgraded rack-and-pinion steering system which greatly improved its handling and maneuverability. The new steering system also made the car more stable while cornering. Mazda also ditched the drum brakes for upgraded disc brakes, improving the car’s braking ability.

Related: Mazda RX-7 (FD): Performance, Price, and Photos

The FC3S RX-7 Scaled New Heights
The FC3S RX-7 came standard with the 13B Rotary engine. There was also a turbo version of the engine which made 189 horsepower. Whilst the turbo 2 RX-7 made 200 horsepower. Since the Porsche 944 and the 928 inspired Mazda when making the second-generation RX-7, people made comparisons between the three cars. However, the FC3S proved to be the better car as Car and Driver placed it in its best list in 1986 and 1987, ahead of the 944 and the 928. The FC3S also won Motor Trend Magazine’s Import Car of the Year in 1986. Besides the FC3S, Mazda also released the FC3C; the convertible version of the standard FC3S. Mazda also released a 10th-anniversary edition of the FC3S with a specialized Momo steering wheel and gear shifter, and 10th-anniversary branding embossed in the car’s interior.

The Third Generation RX-7 Cemented Its Legendary Status
Whilst the first and second-generation RX-7s were popular vehicles, the third-generation RX-7s — The FD3S — truly made the RX-7 an automotive icon. Unveiled in 1992, the series 6 RX-7 came standard with the 13B Rotary Engine fitted with two sequential turbochargers. The car generated 252 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. Weighing in at 2,954 pounds, the car became an instant hit with the masses. It garnered praise for its nimble handling and the rotary engine. The two turbos helped mitigate turbo lag. The first smaller turbo helped the car by supplying extra torque at low RPMs, functioning from 1800 to 4000 RPMs. The second bigger turbo kicked in at around 4500 RPM and provided the car with the extra bit of power and performance. The series 6 RX7 FDs also had pop-up headlights as standard.

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Series 7 and Series 8 Improved The Car Further
Whilst the series 6 was the last FD3S to be available in the U.S., Mazda released the Series 7 RX7 in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Japan in 1996. They limited it to these countries because of the Japanese financial crisis in the 90s. The car featured minor improvements and upgrades; adding 10 horsepower. Mazda released the Series 8 RX-7 exclusively for the Japanese Domestic Market. It featured better turbochargers and intercoolers, redesigned interiors, and some other upgrades. The top-of-the-line variant of the Series 8 RX-7s produced 276 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. The car also featured 17-inch BBS wheels.

The RX-7 Has A Rich Motorsport History
Mazda entered the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1979 with their RX-7s but missed qualifying by just one second. They also entered the IMSA races. Mazda dominated the 24 hours of Daytona with the RX-7; finishing first and second in 1979. They’d go on to win the GTU series that year. Mazda and the RX-7 dominated the GTU series, winning 7 GTU championships in a row. They also won dominated the GTO series for a decade right from 1982 to 1992, winning the series 10 times in a row. No other model has won as many IMSA races as an RX-7 in its history. The RX-7 also entered WRC, securing an 11th-place finish in 1981.

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It’s Been A Part Of Many Movies And Anime
Enthusiasts and fans would know just how influential movies were in increasing the popularity of the RX-7s. In the popular Japanese Manga and Anime Initial D, the RX-7s feature heavily with two of the main characters in the series; the Takahashi brothers Ryosuke and Keisuke both had the FC3S and FD3S RX-7s, respectively. Vin Diesel’s character Dominic Toretto in The Fast And The Furious also drove an FD3S RX-7. In The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, Sung Kang’s character Han drives a yellow and black Veilside FD RX-7.

What Lies Ahead For The RX-7 And The Rotary Engine?
Members of the automotive community have been waiting for a new RX-7 based car for a while. The RX-7’s successor, the RX-8 also featured a rotary engine but its heavier weight, less horsepower, and engine reliability issues made it less popular among the automotive community. In October 2015, Mazda unveiled the RX-Vision concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show with a new rotary engine and design cues from the 3rd generation RX-7 FD3S. However, nothing has been heard ever since.

FAQ Q: How many RX-7 are left?
Mazda produced over 800,000 RX-7s from 1978 to 2002

Q: Is the RX-7 still made?
The RX-7 was discontinued in the year 2002 with the final Series 8 FD3S being available only for the Japanese Domestic Market

Q: How much does a Mazda RX-7 cost?
A used Mazda RX-7 FD can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $77,000 in the US depending on its condition and rarity

Q: How much horsepower does a Mazda RX-7 have?
The Mazda RX-7 FD3S produced 276 horsepower with its 13B sequential turbocharged rotary engine

Q: What engine is in the Mazda RX-7?
The Mazda RX-7 has a wankel rotary engine. Beside the first generation which had the 12 A rotary engine, all other RX-7s came fitted with the 13B rotary engine

Q: When did the Mazda RX-7 come out?
The RX-7 first came out in the year 1978 with the first generation Savanna RX-7

Q: What years were the Mazda RX-7 made?
Mazda produced the RX-7 from 1978 to 2002.

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