2018 marks 40 years since the debut of the original Mazda RX-7. According to Mazda UK, Mazda has sold 2 million rotary-engined cars, with 850,000 of them being RX-7s. To honor the occasion, they’ve produced a video bringing together three generations of the beloved sports car (in the shape of a rotor).
This being the UK, the cars available are somewhat different than what we got in the US. The first-gen SA22 model shown looks to bee the equivalent of our top-spec GSL-SE model (maybe UK readers can clarify), but the styling is a bit different, especially with the rear spoiler and fascia.
In the UK, a turbocharged version of the second-gen FC convertible was available. Sadly, we only received naturally aspirated droptops (which probably explains why the best-preserved FCs on Craigslist are usually convertibles).
Lastly, thanks to Britain’s lax import laws, the FD shown appears to be a gray market Type R Bathurst, released to honor three consecutive wins by the RX-7 at Austalia’s 12 Hours of Bathurst. It came with factory height-adjustable dampers and about 20 pounds worth of weight savings to enhance performance.
Lastly, there’s another big difference between the UK and the US: It appears that you can actually find unmolested RX-7s over there. Happy 40 years, RX-7!
I had a Mazda 323 a 626 a 79 RX7 a 87 RX7 and I have a 1994 Mazda Miata. I loved the RX 7’s but had trouble passing emissions tests.GeneG
Interesting that the FB they show has GSL-SE wheels, which was an option on 84-85 models that came with a 13B rather than the 12A. And I didn’t realize they made a convertible TII. Was this a UK thing?
I think only North America got the 13B and updated dash for 84-85.
All Japanese 2nd gens were turbocharged. Might have been an option for other markets, but definitely not in the US.
It is not easy to find unmolested FD RX7s in the UK, a lot have been modified in one way or another. It is however relatively easy to import late model cars direct from Japan with a number of specialists offering to do the hard work for you.
This is the route that I took when I imported a 2001 Type R Barthust R nearly 5 years ago. It is factory standard with the exception of a Racing Beat exhaust system (the original rusted through)
That same rear spoiler and a different front bumper came as a dealer option on Canadian RX-7’s too. I met the car and it’s original owner over at VARAC Grand Prix last week.
I currently daily a 1980 RX-7 GS: no powersteering, drum brakes in the back, and a solid rear axle, but a lovely 5-speed (that was GS-trim only) and an interior that makes me smile every time I sit inside.
It’s a bit of a slowpoke (although not bad for its time) and needs a strong arm when parallel parking, but it’s an absolute joy on long, winding roads. The rotary burbles nicely at 700rpm and even delivers a slight kick around 6k. It’s so smooth that I sometimes forget that I’m cruising in 3rd gear.
I haven’t had the opportunity to check out later RX-7s, but the SAs are definitely great sports tourers.
The later first generation UK cars were visually a GSL-SE with spoilers, but had the 12A engine.
RX7s were and are not a common sight in the UK. Not that many were sold. The British publish a record of current registrations by car. There are now about 585 RX7s registered in the UK. Along with 3 RX2’s, 6 RX3s, and 2 RX4s.
Also 191 Datsun 240z and 13 Datsun 510 Bluebirds and SSSs.
“You’ll be amazed at a Mazda”. That was the slogan in the UK in the ’80s. Not real catchy, like “zoom-zoom”.
Happy 40th RX-7