A Brief Look at the Mazda RX-7
The Mazda RX-7: A Historical Overview
Over the years, Mazda has become renowned for their innovative designs and engineering prowess. One car that exemplifies this more than any other is the Mazda RX-7. Since its inception in 1978, the RX-7 has undergone several iterations and transformations, each with its own unique flavor and personality. In this article, we will explore the history and evolution of the Mazda RX-7, including all six generations, starting from the first-generation model up to the final version which was discontinued in 2002.
First-Generation RX-7 (1978-1985)
The first-generation RX-7, also known as the SA22C, was introduced in 1978 as a replacement for the Mazda RX-3. It was a sports car that had a distinctive “long hood, short deck” design, twin rotary engines, and a 50:50 weight distribution, which made it an instant hit with driving enthusiasts. The SA22C was powered by a 1.1-liter 12A rotary engine that produced 100 horsepower, which was later increased to 115 horsepower in 1981. It was available in three trim levels: Base, GS, and GSL.
One of the most notable variations of the first-generation RX-7 is the limited-production convertible model, which was released in 1983. Only 2500 units were produced, making it a rare and highly sought-after model among collectors.
Second-Generation RX-7 (1986-1992)
The second-generation RX-7, also known as the FC3S, was introduced in 1986. It represented a significant shift in design and engineering: the car was now more aerodynamic and had a new front-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout. The FC3S was powered by a 1.3-liter 13B rotary engine that produced between 146 and 182 horsepower, depending on the model and year. It was available in three trim levels: Base, Turbo, and the high-performance RX-7 Turbo II.
The most notable variation of the FC3S was the convertible model that was released in 1988. Unlike the first-generation convertible, which was a limited-production model, the FC3S convertible was produced in larger numbers and was available throughout the entire production cycle.
Third-Generation RX-7 (1993-1995)
The third-generation RX-7, also known as the FD3S, was introduced in 1993. It was a complete redesign of the RX-7, with a sleek and aerodynamic body, a twin-turbocharged 1.3-liter 13B-REW rotary engine, and a new suspension system that made it a true driver’s car. The FD3S was available in two trim levels: Base and the high-performance RX-7 R1.
One of the most significant variations of the FD3S RX-7 was the Spirit R model, which was released as a limited edition in 2002. Only 1,500 units were produced, making it one of the rarest and most sought-after RX-7 models ever produced.
Fourth-Generation RX-7 (1996-2002)
The fourth-generation RX-7, also known as the FD3S, was a continuation of the third-generation model but with several upgrades and refinements. The car was still powered by the 13B-REW rotary engine, but it now produced between 252 and 276 horsepower, depending on the model and year. The FD3S was available in two trim levels: Base and the high-performance RX-7 RZ.
One of the most significant variations of the fourth-generation RX-7 was the RX-7 Type R Bathurst-R model, which was released in 2001. It was a limited-production model that was built to celebrate Mazda’s success at the Bathurst 1000 race in Australia.
Fifth-Generation RX-7 (2017-Present)
Despite the discontinuation of the RX-7 in 2002, rumors have persisted that Mazda is planning to revive the iconic sports car. In 2017, Mazda announced that they were indeed developing a new rotary-powered sports car, which many believe will be the RX-7’s successor. While details about the car are scarce at this time, it is expected to feature a hybrid powertrain that combines a rotary engine with an electric motor.
The Mazda RX-7 was and continues to be one of the most beloved sports cars ever produced. Its distinctive styling, rotary engine, and handling characteristics made it an instant classic when it was first introduced in 1978. Over the years, the RX-7 evolved and grew, each iteration building on the successes of the previous models. Although the RX-7 was discontinued in 2002, its legacy lives on, and many eagerly await the rumored revival of this iconic sports car.