A Mazda RX-7 FD has sold for $60,000 at auction

Over the weekend a 1993 Mazda RX-7 sold for $60,000. The car in question was finished in Competition Yellow Mica, considered the most desirable color in the FD palette and exclusive to first-year performance-oriented R1 packages. Only 350 CYMs were sold in the US market. Initially our gut reaction was that the price seemed too high, especially given the Craigslist quality copy in the listing. But given some time, we’ve come to reassess the call.

The auction took place at Mecum’s Glendale, Arizona event on Friday, March 19. You can watch the whole thing go down at 3:03:27 in the video above. Much of our initial call stems from the fact that the description is complete garbage. It lists just 14 bullet points, giving very little information about the car.

“Rebuilt large turbo rotary engine,” one bullet point says. Does that mean the entire engine was rebuilt, or that the larger of the sequential turbos was rebuilt and they are unskilled in the use of commas? “Oil leak fixed,” read another. If it was fixed, why mention it at all? “Some interior trim replaced,” it said. Okay, which pieces of the FD’s notoriously brittle plastic were replaced, and was it with OEM parts?

On top of that, the car sports a very ugly Kenwood double-DIN touchscreen stereo and crappy Continental tires. The fact that the seller purchased the car in October 2019 indicated that it was bought for a rehabilitation and turnaround, cartoon dollar signs in eyes. And since Mecum is primarily known for dealing muscle cars, the whole thing smelled of, “Hey, look at this foreign job with the weird engine. JDM is hawt right now!!”

After sitting with it for a couple of days, though, I’ve reconsidered my negative position on the FD and I did it the way I do everything: by comparing it to a 1969-73 911S.

So first, let me say that there are still concerns, but mostly they’re related to the vendor and the auction house. The fact that they chose Mecum as their venue for the sale makes me question how serious they were about their brief stewardship of the vehicle (which they only owned for 15 months). Mecum’s listing was borderline incompetent too.

As for the car itself, any sins that you can eyeball just from the listing are pretty forgivable. If the mileage is genuine, it has fewer than 40,000 original miles. That’s a plus in any case. If the engine was rebuilt, is that itself such a big deal? If we compare with the beloved 911S, it isn’t at all. In the case of the Porsche, it would even be considered a benefit if the work was of good quality. Replaced trim pieces? If they’re NOS, no problem at all. Aftermarket stereo? Generally reversible, and as noted, the OEM unit is included. Crap tires? Who cares?

Overall, even if the car’s not perfect, it’s one of 350 Competition Yellow Mica R1s. You might be able to find a better one, but it could take a very long time. Maybe it’d be better to get a perfectly decent one like this and rehabilitate it as needed. We were hasty to assume initially that the workmanship would be sub-par, perhaps because of the obvious intent to flip and the venue.

Which brings us back to the 911S. Everything that raised an eyebrow on the FD at first, would be easily forgiven on a 911S if the price was right. With that perspective, it just becomes a question of whether the price was fair on the FD, and not whether the car itself is worthy. It’s totally worthy of owning.

Let’s say that the perfect and utterly hypothetical low-mileage, close-as-you-can-get-to-new, museum-quality Competition Yellow Mica FD Mazda RX-7 R1 is worth $80,000. That may seem high, but all you need are two people in this vast nation willing to bid to that number. Given the FD’s unique place as a Japanese icon and perhaps the greatest and iteration of the rotary engine, that doesn’t seem like a stretch.

Going with the comp, a perfect 911S with 40K miles today would be around $250,000. One with questions like this FD might be worth $175,000, or a 30 percent discount. Using that guideline, this FD should have been $56,000. So, $60,000 is still a little high, but not bonkers. And again, when will a better one come along?

Undoubtedly, there’s a lot fewer than 350 unmolested CYM R1s out there. We’d be willing to bet that one or two got bubble-wrapped when new, but not many more than that. Quite a few of these actually got deployed for their express purpose: motorsport.

I had severe priapism for these in 1993-94, during my aspiring autocrosser days. I loved that they finally ended the Corvette’s dominance in the Solo II Super Stock class. For me, the FD is nostalgic in the truest sense. I didn’t have to learn to appreciate them years after their production life. I loved them fully in their own time.

One more thing: this particular R1 has just enough dirt under its fingernails that you could drive it and not worry about killing the value. Overall, then, this is a decent buy, and of course as we know, prices are only going to go up.

Images: Mecum

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10 Responses to A Mazda RX-7 FD has sold for $60,000 at auction

  1. BlitzPig says:

    You cannot use a Mecum auction result as any kind of barometer of actual value in the real world. Too much alcohol in the bidding gallery, and WAY too much testosterone there as well, makes these “muscle car” auctions little more than a “mine is bigger than yours” contest.

  2. speedie says:

    Mecum (or Barrett Jackson for that matter) is not where I would sell my Japanese sports car. Your comment, “Hey, look at this foreign job with the weird engine. JDM is hawt right now!!” is spot on. I have no issues with people who buy cheap and flip at auction. While the description is poor the person obviously knew what to buy for profit. I am also glad you used the 911 for comparison. Porcshephiles will shudder with indignity but the FD performed on the same level and in many ways is the 911’s equal in engineering. I however disagree with your own comment that the 13B-REW was the perhaps the greatest and final iteration of the rotary engine. While the greatest part can certainly be debated, it was certainly not the last iteration. The Renesis (13B-MSP) is the final iteration sold by Mazda and rightfully won the International Engine of the Year in 2003.

    • j_c says:

      ” Mecum (or Barrett Jackson for that matter) is not where I would sell my Japanese sports car. Your comment, “Hey, look at this foreign job with the weird engine. JDM is hawt right now!!” is spot on. ”

      But wouldn’t that make Mecum the perfect place to sell?

      • Speedie says:

        I want an auction platform that promotes my car accurately and gets the best audience. Just because it sold for $60K at Mecum does not mean this particular FD could not have gotten more from a site that draws in bidders that really understand the marque and model. Bring a Trailer (BAT) does a better presentation on the cars it puts up for auction and draws in people with great knowledge of the cars that you can follow in the comments, and you can get seller feedback on questions. FDs show up on BAT quite frequently and consistently get bids over $30K based on condition and mileage. The BAT model is the future of car auctioning as demonstrated by the multitude of sites popping up almost weekly trying to get a piece of their success. Mecum and Barrett still rely heavily on the live auction and muscle car demographic which is slowly fading away. If they do not change their auction model they will fade away as well.

  3. Land Ark says:

    Honestly, I’d find this less appealing without a rebuild. My understanding is that a rebuild is routine maintenance on them as they approach 100k miles so this should theoretically give me a few extra years.
    The radio thing is not an issue and the tires, as you said, are nothing – though I guess having Contis on multiple cars right now makes me think they aren’t as crappy as others.

    I had a chance to trade my low mile ’00 Dodge Dakota R/T for an FD several years ago now. The guy drove it up 5 hours to my house and we test drove each other’s before the decision was made.
    The FD was an automatic and in the short time it was parked in my driveway it left several significant drops of oil. It also stalled when the air conditioner was turned on. I asked him if he knew why and he said he didn’t. So I went to the forums and looked it up and it didn’t seem good – a rebuild seemed in its near future.

    I had settled on passing on it because I don’t have the ability to rebuild a rotary engine and at the time I wasn’t exactly swimming in money. And as I was about to make the statement to him I noticed the title he was holding didn’t have his name on it – he’d clearly bought it and was going to try to flip it either for profit or to get out from under it. In any case, it was a huge red flag and solidified my choice. I gave him $100 for gas and his troubles and sent him on his way. It would have been about $12,000 including my truck and cash on top.

    Even still, to this day, I wish I had figured out how to make it work. Despite knowing what a disaster was awaiting.

  4. Patrick says:

    Thank you for making me Google priapism… *sarcasm

  5. Tom Westmacott says:

    Just a note, the “small turbo / large turbo” effect of the Mazda sequential turbo system is achieved by two identical turbos, one of which is blanked off at low rpm. It’s when the two are blowing together in parallel that you get the ‘large turbo’ effect up top. Which makes the description confusing, and hard to reconcile with a resolutely stock-looking engine bay – the air intake is normally one of the first things to go when the engine mods begin. It’s either a very cunning ploy to get a big-single-turbo rotary past CARB, or it’s an unmodified stock setup – I bet the latter, given the stock intercooler.

    As an alternative if you don’t mind LHD, the 1996 Series 7 cars are now importable under the 25 year rule, which have been generally recommended as they have the 16-bit engine management and various other refinements – find a Type RS and you get the 17″ wheels and track-ready brakes as standard. However I appreciate that the original CYM USDM cars have earned some kudos of their own.

  6. HotWheelsAndFriedChicken ! says:

    Mecum is no place for a japanese car in my opinion. I think there was also a z32 300zx and a mazda cosmo at glendale.

  7. Hotwagon says:

    FYI. This is the exact same car that failed to sell on BaT this past November! Bidding barely crossed $35k then.


  8. speedie says:

    If you read the comments on BAT you will see that the accident on the Carfax report and the lack of communication from the seller on bidder comments were key points in the car not getting a high bid. Either the car showed well at the auction or there were bidders who think there is still profit to be made on this model. Also keep in mind that the buyer pays a commission of anywhere from 5% to 10% plus fees so the final cost to the buyer (not including hauling fees if not driven home) is actually $66,000 if a 10% commission was paid..

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