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- Published: Tuesday, 28 May 2013 18:37
- Written by Ben David T Quirk
The Mazda RX-7 also known as the Ẽfini was was the dawn of a new type of sports car back in 1978, it was the coming of the rotary sports car engine. As soon as the car appeared the it was pitted against such cars as Nissan Fairlady Z. The Mazda had a totally different type of styling, inspired by Colin Chapman's Lotus Elan 2+2 and unlike other sports models it ran a different type of engine a Wankel twin-rotor rotary engine, the RX7 utilised a midship, rear drive system , the perfect balance for racing. The predecessor to the new car was RX-3 (in Japan the Savanna) the rotary engine replaced all Mazda's.
Since the beginning of production 811,634 Mazda RX-7 cars were manufactured, it also achieved Car & Driver's Top Ten Best 5 times.
It was a real sports coupe, different to cars such as the TR6 or other sports saloons. The Mazda RX7 and its Wankel rotary sporting its lightweight build was the power behind the automobile. The car was avaiable in the US as a coupe 2 seater, in Japan, Australia and some other locations was available as a four seater.
First generation RX7 (SA/FB)
This series the SA22C was the 1st series, it came with crude exposed steel bumpers and number plate plate recess highly-mounted, the car was famously criticised by Road & Track critic Werner Buhrer as Baroque depression.
The Series 2 running from 1981 to 1983 had smoother plastic-coated bumpers integrated into the RX7 cars body, Mazda tried to achieve a more sporty look with this car by adding wide black rubber body side mouldings, wrap around rear lenses upgraded engine and ECU. The GSL came with many optional extras including disc brakes all round, Limited rear slip dif clutch type version (LSD). This model was available in the US, the rest of the world, could only purchase the earlier the RX-7 SA22C until 1986, when the next gen was released.
The Series 3 (1984 to 1985) featured a lower front fascia and different instrument clocks. The RX7 GSL continued into this series of the car, however Mazda had another idea the introduction of the GSL-SE sub-model. This version was equipped with fuel injection and a 1.3 L 13B-RESI engine, this produced 135 bhp with 135 lb-ft torque. It also came with the same options as the earlier version, though the brakes rotors were bigger, this allowed Mazda to utilise the common lug nut, in addition to this the suspension was stiffened the springs and shocks, and just for good measure an upgraded oil cooler was added.
The 1984 Mazda RX-7 S runs approx 29 mpg gallon and the
NSU-Wankel accelerates from 0 to 50 in 6.3 seconds.
The car has exceptional handling & acceleration making standout back in the 80's. This gen RX-7 had 4-link rear suspension with custome live axle and the fact it had a 50/50 weight distribution ratio, and weighed in at just under 2600 lb, the lightest version ever produced. The RX7 or efini was capable of reaching 60 mph in 9.2 s and ran at 100 bhp @ 6000 rpm,and achieved a max speed of 120 mph (190 km/h). The Wankel rotary engine created very little harshness at high revs, for this reason a buzzer was added to the tacho as an warning aid to the driver quickly coming close to the red line.
The Generation 2 cars varied globally. Over 474,565 first generation Mazda RX7 cars were produced; many of these infact 377,878 were sold in the US alone.
Second generation (FC)
Series 4 1986 - 1988 this had a naturally aspirated, fuel-injected 13B-VDEI Wankel Rotary capable of producing 146 bhp. As an option turbocharged model was availabale this was known as the RX7 Turbo II, this came with 182 bhp.
Series 5 1989 this version featured upgraded styling and ECU, the Wankel rotary engine rotors were lightened also the compression ratio was increased to 9.7:1 for the naturally aspirated cars, the Turbo RX7 had a ratio of 9.0:1 for the turbo model. The Turbo II moniker was eventually dropped from the range, the turbocharged RX7 model was then known as dubbed Turbo. The Series 5 FC produced 160 hp, the Series 5 Turbo was capable of creating 200 bhp.
The second generation RX7 was comletely restyled somewhat mirroring the infamous Porsche 944. The SA22/FB was a real sports car, the FC however was more a sports touring car. The Handling of the 2nd Gen was upgraded, oversteer was reduced which was the main problem of the FB. The car was given rack and pinion steering, all round disc brakes became factory standard, however the following Models S4: GXL, GTU, Turbo II, Convertible; S5: GTUs, Turbo, Convertible were fitted with 4 piston front brakes. The rear suspension was upgraded and made independent with a toe control hub to increase a certain degree of passive rear steering. The rear seats were added as an option to the FC RX-7 however these are rare.
The RX7 FC was 80lbs heavier but still had admiration from the press. Winning various awards. The convertible version of the was released in 1988 available as an atmospheric or turbocharged model, this created an overnight success. Production ceased in October 1991, however Mazda manufactured 500 limited edition RX7 convertible cars for 1992. The Japanese & UK were treated to a turbo version of the convertible.
The Japanese market was limited to only the RX7 turbo; an atmospheric version was available only as an export.
The second generation RX7 Mazda did the best overall, with 86,000 sold in 1986 throughout the US alone.
Mazda RX7 Third generation (FD)
The Series 6 1992 - 1995 was exported globally, this version achieved the highest sales. The Japanese Mazda company branded & sold the RX-7 as the Efini RX-7.
The 1993 - 1995 RX7 model were only available in the U.S. and Canada.
Series 8 January 1999 August 2002 was the last RX7 series manufactured and sold, initially available to only European markets & Australia. The car was given upgraded turbochargers, intercooling and radiator cooling.
The interior was overhauled. The rear wing was given the option to adjust it. The No1 the RX7 Type RS came fitted with Bilstein dampers and springs, 17 Inch alloys as standard, the weight was reduced to 1280 kg.
The Jap auto was capable of producing 276 bhp & 243 ft per lb of torque limited to Japanese law. The actual figures were closer 290 to 308 bhp. The RZ version came with Type RS extras, but even lighter 1270 kg. It came with limited edition gun-metal BBS alloys and red racing interior. It was even given an upgraded 16-bit ECU and ABS system, this allowed it to brake independently with each wheel, this gave more controlled steering while turning & during braking.
The third and final generation of the RX-7, FD (FD3S for the JDM and JM1FD for the USA VIN), was an outright sports car by Japanese standards. The 3rd Gen RX7 13B-REW was the 1st mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharged car ever to be exported from Japan, this addition gave the car 255 bhp and finally 280 bhp with the formation of the gentlemen's agreement on engine power agreed by Mazda.
Playboy rated the RX-7 a better car than the Dodge Viper. The FD won Playboy's Car of the Year for 1993. The most desirable RX-7 was the final 1,500 run-out specials. The RX7 Spirit R available in 3 versions the Spirit RA , RB and RC, Spirit R Accounts for 1000 of the 1500 cars made, fitted with 5-speed manual gear box, recognised as the best performer of all. Its available as a 4 seater, with sports manual 5 speed box, however the 'The Spirit C' came as a 4-speed auto box.
The Touring Model of the RX7 Spirit comes with a sun roof, BOSE stereo.
Limited edition RX7 models
Australia had a special high performance the Mazda RX-7 SP, a road-going racing car, driven in the 12hr Bathhurst Endurance race, An initial run of 25 were manufactured in 1991, with an additional 10 added due to demand. The RX-7 SP produced 274 bhp and 263 ft lbf of torque, The car came with a race-inspired nose cone, proven racing wing mounted at the rear, 17 inch alloys, upgraded brakes, upgraded intercooler, exhaust & ECU. The weight of the car was made lighter a carbon fibre bonnet and seats, this reduced the overall weight to 1218 kg (from 1310 kg), this car was capable of challenging the Porsche 968CSRS. The Mazda RX-7SP achieved victory, an RX7SP Bathhurst was released in 2001.
RX7 Modifications & Mazdaspeed
There are many performance houses including Mazdaspeed who sell kits for conversions targetted mainly at the more popular 20B engine Stillen and Pettit Racing specialise in this. The conversion usually comprises of the twin sequential turbo being replaced for a single bigger turbo in such conversions. Such 3-rotor configurations typically produce 550hp and a top speed of well over 200 MPH.
The Third Gen RX-7s are notorious for over heating. Out of the factory 1 out of 3 engines had to be rebuilt within a short period.