Mazda RX-7 FD3S
|Assembly||Hiroshima Assembly, Hiroshima, Japan|
|Body and chassis|
|Layout||Front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive|
|Platform||Mazda F platform|
The first RX-7 (1978–1985) was offered as two-passenger hatchback and as a 2+2 hatchback with "occasional" rear seats in some markets.
The second generation (1985–1991) was offered in 2+2 hatchback as well as two-door convertible body configurations.
The third generation RX-7 (1992-2002) (1993-1995 in the United States) was offered as a 2+2 hatchback and was noted for its engine's sequential twin-turbochargers.
First generation (SA22C/FB)
|First generation (SA/FB)|
|Also called||Mazda Savanna RX-7|
|Designer||Matasaburo Maeda (1976)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe|
|Platform||Mazda SA2/FB platform|
|Wheelbase||2,420 mm (95 in)|
|Length||4,285 mm (169 in)|
|Width||1,675 mm (66 in)|
|Height||1,260 mm (50 in)|
|Curb weight||1,000–1,100 kg (2,300–2,500 lb)|
Series 1 (1978–1980) is commonly referred to as the "SA22C" from the first alphanumerics of the vehicle identification number. In Japan it was introduced in March 1978, replacing the Savanna RX-3, and joined Mazda's only other remaining rotary engine powered products, called the Mazda Cosmo which was a two-door luxury coupe, and the Mazda Luce luxury sedan.
The lead designer at Mazda was Matasaburo Maeda, whose son, Ikuo, would go on to design the Mazda2 and Mazda RX-8. The transition of the Savanna to a sports car appearance reflected products from other Japanese manufacturers. The advantage the RX-7 had was its minimal size and weight, and the compact rotary engine installed behind the front axle, which helped balance the front to rear weight distribution, and provide a low center of gravity.
In Japan, sales were enhanced by the fact that the RX-7 complied with Japanese Government dimension regulations, and Japanese buyers were not liable for yearly taxes for driving a larger car. The rotary engine had financial advantages to Japanese consumers in that the engine displacement remained below 1.5 litres, a significant determination when paying the Japanese annual road tax which kept the obligation affordable to most buyers, while having more power than the traditional inline engines.
In May 1980, Mazda released a limited production run of special North American models known as the Leathersport Models. This package was essentially an uprated GS model with added LS badges on each B-pillar, special striping, and LS-only gold anodized wheels (with polished outer face and wheel rim). All LS editions came equipped with special LS-only full brown leather upholstery, leather wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob, removable sunroof, LS-specific four-speaker AM/FM stereo radio with power antenna (though listed as a six-speaker stereo, as the two rear dual voice coil speakers were counted as four speakers in total), remote power door side mirrors, and other standard GS equipment. Two primary options were also available; a three-speed JATCO 3N71B automatic transmission and air conditioning. Other GS options such as cassette tape deck, splash guards, padded center console arm rest and others could be added by the dealer. The LS model was only ever available in three different exterior colors: Aurora White, Brilliant Black, and Solar Gold. No official production records are known to exist or to have been released. This series of RX-7 had exposed steel bumpers and a high-mounted indentation-located license plate, called by Werner Buhrer of Road & Track magazine a "Baroque depression."
The Series 2 (1981–1983) had integrated plastic-covered bumpers, wide black rubber body side moldings, wraparound taillights and updated engine control components. While marginally longer overall, the new model was 135 lb (61 kg) lighter in federalized trim. The four-speed manual option was dropped for 1981 as well, while the gas tank grew larger and the dashboard was redesigned, including a shorter gear stick mounted closer to the driver. In 1983, the 130 mph speedometer returned for the RX-7. The GSL package provided optional four-wheel disc brakes, front ventilated (Australian model) and clutch-type rear limited slip differential (LSD). Known as the "FB" in North America after the US Department of Transportation mandated 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number changeover. For various other markets worldwide, the 1981–1985 RX-7 retained the 'SA22C' VIN prefix. In the UK, the 1978–1980 series 1 cars carried the SA code on the vehicle VIN but all later cars (1981–1983 series 2 & 1984–1985 series 3) carried the FB code and these first generation RX-7's are known as the "FB". The license-plate surround looks much like Buhrer's "Styling Impressions."
In Europe, the FB was mainly noticed for having received a power increase from the 105 PS (77 kW) of the SA22; the 1981 RX-7 now had 115 PS (85 kW) on tap. European market cars also received four-wheel disc brakes as standard.
The Series 3 (1984–1985) featured an updated lower front fascia. North American models received a different instrument cluster. GSL package was continued into this series, but Mazda introduced the GSL-SE sub-model. The GSL-SE had a fuel injected 1.3 L 13B RE-EGI engine producing 135 hp (101 kW) and 180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft). GSL-SEs had much the same options as the GSL (clutch-type rear LSD and rear disc brakes), but the brake rotors were larger, allowing Mazda to use the more common lug nuts (versus bolts), and a new bolt pattern of 4x114.3 (4x4.5"). Also, they had upgraded suspension with stiffer springs and shocks. The external oil cooler was reintroduced, after being dropped in the 1983 model-year for the controversial "beehive" water-oil heat exchanger.
The 1984 RX-7 GSL has an estimated 29 highway miles per gallon (8.11 litres per 100 km) /19 estimated city miles per gallon (12.37 l/100 km). According to Mazda, its rotary engine, licensed by NSU-Wankel allowed the RX-7 GSL to accelerate from 0 to 50 (80 km/h) in 6.3 seconds. Kelley Blue Book, in its January–February 1984 issue, noted that a 1981 RX-7 GSL retained 93.4% of its original sticker price.
In 1985 Mazda released the RX-7 Finale in Australia. This was the last of the series and brought out in limited numbers. The Finale featured power options and a brass plaque mentioning the number the car was as well as "Last of a legend" on the plaque. The finale had special stickers and a blacked out section between the window & rear hatch.
The handling and acceleration of the car were noted to be of a high caliber for its day. This generation RX-7 had "live axle" 4-link rear suspension with Watt's linkage, a 50/50 weight ratio, and weighed under 2,500 lb (1,100 kg). It was the lightest generation of RX-7 ever produced. 12A-powered models accelerated from 0–60 mph in 9.2 s, and turned 0.779 g (7.64 m/s²) laterally on a skidpad. The 12A engine produced 100 hp (75 kW) at 6,000 rpm, allowing the car to reach speeds of over 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). Because of the smoothness inherent in the Wankel rotary engine, little vibration or harshness was experienced at high engine speeds, so a buzzer was fitted to the tachometer to warn the driver when the 7,000 rpm redline was approaching.
The 12A engine has a long thin shaped combustion chamber, having a large surface area in relation to its volume. Therefore, combustion is cool, giving few oxides of nitrogen. However, the combustion is also incomplete, so there are large amounts of partly burned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The exhaust is hot enough for combustion of these to continue into the exhaust. An engine driven pump supplies air into the exhaust to complete the burn of these chemicals. This is done in the "thermal reactor" chamber where the exhaust manifold would normally be on a conventional engine. Under certain conditions the pump injects air into the thermal reactor and at other times air is pumped through injectors into the exhaust ports. This fresh air is needed for more efficient and cleaner burning of the air/fuel mixture.
Options and models varied from country to country. The gauge layout and interior styling in the Series 3 was only changed for North American versions. Additionally, North America was the only market to have offered the first generation RX-7 with the fuel-injected 13B, model GSL-SE. Sales of the first generation RX-7 were strong, with a total of 474,565 first generation cars produced; 377,878 (nearly eighty percent) were sold in the United States alone. In 2004, Sports Car International named this car seventh on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. In 1983, the RX-7 would appear on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for the first time in 20 years.
Savanna RX-7 Turbo
Following the introduction of the first turbocharged rotary engine in the Luce/Cosmo, a similar, also fuel injected and non-intercooled 12A turbo engine was made available for the top-end model of the series 3 RX-7 in Japan. It was introduced in September 1983. Power is 165 PS (121 kW) JIS at 6,500 rpm. While the peak power figures were only slightly higher than those of the engine used in the Luce/Cosmo, the new "Impact Turbo" was developed specifically to deal with the different exhaust gas characteristics of a rotary engine. Both rotor vanes of the turbine were remodelled and made smaller, and the turbine had a twenty percent higher speed than a turbo intended for a conventional engine. The Savanna Turbo was short-lived, as the next generation RX-7 was just around the corner.
Second generation (FC)
|Second generation (FC)|
|Also called||Mazda Savanna RX-7|
|Body and chassis|
|Platform||Mazda FC platform|
146 hp (109 kW)
|Wheelbase||2,431 mm (95.7 in)|
|Width||1,689 mm (66.5 in)|
|Height||1,265 mm (49.8 in)|
|Curb weight||1,223–1,584 kg (2,696–3,492 lb)|
The Series 4 (1985–1988) was available with a naturally aspirated, fuel injected 13B-VDEI producing 146 hp (108 kW) in North American spec. An optional turbocharged model, (1985–1988) known as the Turbo II in the American market, had 182 hp / 185 PS (136 kW). The Series 5 (1989–1992) featured updated styling and better engine management, as well as lighter rotors and a higher compression ratio 9.7:1 for the naturally aspirated model, and 9.0:1 for the turbo model. The naturally aspirated Series 5 FC made 160 hp (119 kW), while the Series 5 Turbo made 200 bhp (203 PS; 149 kW) at 6,500 rpm and 265 N⋅m; 195 lb⋅ft (27 kg⋅m) at 3,500 rpm of torque.
The rotary engine had financial advantages to Japanese consumers in that the engine displacement remained below 1.5 liters, a significant determination when paying the Japanese annual road tax which kept the obligation affordable to most buyers, while having more power than the traditional inline engines. The RX-7 in this regard to Japanese owners offered comparable performance to other Japanese performance coupes, while being of lighter weight, with a balanced chassis, and lively performance, without the extra expense of the road tax obligation.
The second generation RX-7 ("FC", VIN begins JM1FC3 or JMZFC1), still known as the Mazda Savanna RX-7 in Japan, featured a complete restyling reminiscent of the Porsche 924. Mazda's stylists, led by Chief Project Engineer Akio Uchiyama, focused on the Porsche 924 for their inspiration in designing the FC because the new car was being styled primarily for the American market, where the majority of first-generation RX-7s had been sold.
This strategy was chosen after Uchiyama and others on the design team spent time in the United States studying owners of earlier RX-7s and other sports cars popular in the American market. The Porsche 944 was selling particularly well at the time and provided clues as to what sports-car enthusiasts might find compelling in future RX-7 styling and equipment.
While the SA22/FB was a purer sports car, the FC tended toward the softer sport-tourer trends of its day, sharing some similarities with the HB series Cosmo. Handling was much improved, with less of the oversteer tendencies of the FB. The rear end design was vastly improved from the FB's live rear axle to a more modern, Independent Rear Suspension (rear axle). Steering was more precise, with rack and pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball steering of the FB. Disc brakes also became standard, with some models (S4: Sport, GXL, GTU, Turbo II, Convertible; S5: GXL, GTUs, Turbo, Convertible) offering four-piston front brakes. The rear seats were optional in some models of the FC RX-7, but are not commonly found in the American Market. Mazda also introduced Dynamic Tracking Suspension System (DTSS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The revised independent rear suspension incorporated special toe control hubs which were capable of introducing a limited degree of passive rear steering under cornering loads. The DTSS worked by allowing a slight amount of toe-out under normal driving conditions but induced slight toe-in under heavier cornering loads at around 0.5 Gs or more; toe-out in the rear allows for a more responsive rotation of the rear, but toe-in allowed for a more stable rear under heavier cornering. Mazda also introduced Auto Adjusting Suspension (AAS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The system changed damping characteristics according to the road and driving conditions. The system compensated for camber changes and provided anti-dive and anti-squat effects. The Turbo 2 uses a turbocharger with a twin scroll design. The smaller primary chamber is engineered to cancel the turbo lag at low engine speeds. At higher revolutions, the secondary chamber is opened, pumping out 33% more power than the naturally aspirated counterpart. The Turbo 2 also has an air-to-air intercooler which has a dedicated intake on the hood. The intake is slightly offset toward the left side of the hood.
Though about 800 lb (363 kg) heavier and more isolated than its predecessor, the FC continued to win accolades from the press. The FC RX-7 was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1986, and the Turbo II was on Car and Driver magazine's 10Best list for a second time in 1987.
In the Japanese market, only the turbo engine was available; the naturally-aspirated version was allowed only as an export. This can be attributed to insurance companies in many Western nations penalizing turbo cars (thus restricting potential sales). This emphasis on containing horsepower and placating insurance companies to make RX-7's more affordable seems ironic in retrospect. Shortly after the discontinuance of the second generation RX-7s in 1992, an outright horsepower "arms race" broke out between sports car manufacturers, with higher and higher levels of power required to meet buyer demands. This rising horsepower phenomena arose from the US CAFE standards remaining stable while engine technologies marched forward rapidly.
Mazda sold 86,000 RX-7s in the US alone in 1986, its first model year, with sales peaking in 1988.
Australian Motors Mazda released a limited run of 250 'Sports' model Series 4 RX-7's; each with no power steering, power windows or rear wiper as an attempt to reduce the weight of the car. In Japan, there was a special limited release of the FC called Infini with only 600 made for each year. Some special noted features for all Infini series are: infini logo on the back, upgraded suspension, upgraded ECU, higher horsepower, lightened weight, 15-inch BBS aluminum alloy wheels, Infini logo steering wheel, aero bumper kits, bronze colored window glass, floor bar on the passenger side, aluminum bonnet with scoop, flare, and holder. The car was thought as the pinnacle of the RX-7 series (until the FD came out). The Infini IV came with other special items such as black bucket seats, 16-inch BBS wheels, Knee pads, and all the other items mentioned before. There are differing years for the Infini, which noted the series. Series I was introduced in 1987, Series II was introduced in 1988, Series III was introduced in 1990, and Series IV was introduced in 1991. Series I and II came in White or Black, Series III came in Forest Green only, and Series IV came in Forest Green or Noble Green. There are only minor differences between the series, the biggest change which was from the Series II being an S4 (1985–1988) and the Series III and IV being an S5 (1989–1992).
Mazda introduced a convertible version of the RX-7 in 1988 with a NA engine—introduced to the US market with ads featuring actor James Garner, at the time featured in many Mazda television advertisements.
The convertible featured a removable rigid section over the passengers and a folding textile rear section with heatable rear glass window. Power operated, lowering the top required unlatching two header catches, power lowering the top, exiting the car (or reaching over to the right side latch), and folding down the rigid section manually. Mazda introduced with the convertible the first integral windblocker, a rigid panel that folded up from behind the passenger seats to block unwanted drafts from reaching the passengers—thereby extending the driving season for the car in open mode. The convertible also featured optional headrest mounted audio speakers and a folding leather snap-fastened tonneau cover. The convertible assembly was precisely engineered and manufactured, and dropped into the ready body assembly as a complete unit—a first in convertible production.
Several car magazines at the time lauded the convertible. Production ceasing in 1991 after Mazda marketed a limited run of 500 example for 1992 for the domestic market only. In Japan, the United Kingdom, and other regions outside the US, a turbocharged version of the convertible was available.
10th Anniversary RX-7
Mazda introduced the 10th Anniversary RX-7 in 1988 as a limited production run based on the RX-7 Turbo II. Production was limited to 1,500 models. The 10th Anniversary RX-7 features a Crystal White (paint code UC) monochromatic paint scheme with matching white body side mouldings, taillight housings, mirrors and 16-inch alloy 7-spoke wheels. There were two "series" of 10th Anniversary models, with essentially a VIN-split running production change between the two. The most notable difference between the series can be found on the exterior- the earlier "Series I" cars had a black "Mazda" logo decal on the front bumper cover, whereas most if not all "Series II" cars did not have the decal. Series II cars also received the lower seat cushion height/tilt feature that Series I cars lacked. Another distinctive exterior feature is the bright gold rotor-shaped 10th Anniversary Edition badge on the front fenders (yellow-gold on the Series II cars). A distinctive 10th Anniversary package feature is the all black leather interior (code D7), which included not just the seats, but the door panel inserts as well and a leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel (with 10th Anniversary Edition embossed horn button) and MOMO leather shift knob with integrated boot. All exterior glass is bronze tinted (specific in North America to only the 10th Anniversary), and the windshield was equipped with the embedded secondary antenna also found on some other select models with the upgraded stereo packages. Other 10th Anniversary Edition specific items were headlight washers (the only RX-7 in the US market that got this feature), glass breakage detectors added to the factory alarm system, 10th Anniversary Edition logoed floormats, 10th Anniversary Edition embroidered front hood protector and accompanying front end mask (or "bra"), and an aluminum under pan.
In 1989, with the introduction of a face-lifted FC RX-7, and to commemorate the RX-7's IMSA domination, Mazda introduced a limited model labeled the GTUs. Starting with the lightweight base model GTU, which came with manual windows, no rear wiper, the sunroof and A/C was dealer optioned, the GTUs added items found on the Turbo model such as four piston front brakes, rear ventilated brake rotors, vehicle speed sensing power steering, one-piece front chin spoiler, cloth covered Turbo model seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, 16 inch wheels, 205/55VR tires, and a GTUs-only 4.300 Viscous-type limited slip differential (all other FC LSD's were 4.100). This allowed quicker acceleration from the non-turbo powered 13B. Mazda built 1100 GTUs in 1989, with the last 100 re-stamped as 1990 models. There were 100 1990 GTUs made in 1990 this can be verified by the vin stamp L the 1989 restamped GTUs were k then restamped with an L.
Third generation (FD)
|Third generation (FD)|
|Also called||ɛ̃fini RX-7|
|Designer||Yoichi Sato (1988)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2 door coupe|
|Platform||Mazda FD platform|
|Engine||1.3 L (79 cu in) 13B-REW twin-turbo (gasoline)|
|Power output||255 PS (188 kW; 252 hp)|
265 PS (195 kW; 261 hp)
280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp)
|Wheelbase||2,425 mm (95 in)|
|Length||4,285 mm (169 in)|
|Width||1,760 mm (69 in)|
|Height||1,230 mm (48 in)|
|Curb weight||1,218–1,340 kg (2,685–2,954 lb)|
The third generation RX-7, FD (chassis code FD3S for Japan and JM1FD for the North American VIN), featured an updated body design. The 13B-REW was the first-ever mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharger system to export from Japan, boosting power to 255 PS (188 kW; 252 hp) in 1993 and finally 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) by the time production ended in Japan in 2002.
In Japan, sales were affected by this series' non-compliance with Japanese dimension regulations and Japanese buyers paid annual taxes for the car's non-compliant width. As the RX-7 was now considered an upper-level luxury sportscar due to the increased width dimensions, Mazda also offered two smaller sporting cars, the Eunos Roadster, and the Eunos Presso hatchback.
The sequential twin turbocharged system, introduced on this series in 1992, was extremely complex and was developed with the aid of Hitachi and previously used on the exclusive-to-Japan Cosmo series (1990-1996 JC-series). The system used two turbochargers, one to provide boost at low RPM,10 psi (0.7 bar) of boost from 1800 rpm. The second turbocharger activated in the upper half of the rpm range, during full throttle acceleration — at 4000 rpm to maintain 10 psi (0.7 bar) until redline. The changeover process occurred at 4500 rpm, with a momentary dip in pressure to 8 psi (0.6 bar), 
Under performance driving the changeover process produced a significant increase in power and forced technical drivers to adjust their driving style to anticipate and mitigate any over-steer during cornering. The stock turbo control system used 4 control solenoids, 4 actuators, both a vacuum and pressure chamber, and several feet of preformed vacuum/pressure hoses, all of which were prone to failure in part due to complexity and the inherent high temperatures of the rotary engine.
Australia had a special high-performance version of the RX-7 in 1995, named the RX-7 SP. This model was developed to achieve homologation for racing in the Australian GT Production Car Series and the Eastern Creek 12 Hour production car race. An initial run of 25 originals were made, and later an extra 10 were built by Mazda due to demand. The RX-7 SP produced 204 kW (274 hp) and 357 N⋅m (263 lb⋅ft) of torque, compared to the 176 kW (236 hp) and 294 N⋅m (217 lb⋅ft) of the standard version. Other changes included a race-developed carbon fibre nose cone and rear spoiler, a carbon fibre 120 L fuel tank (as opposed to the 76 L tank in the standard car), a 4.3:1-ratio rear differential, 17-inch wheels, larger brake rotors and calipers. A "three times more efficient" intercooler, a new exhaust, and a modified ECU were also included. Weight was reduced significantly with the aid of further carbon fibre usage including lightweight vented bonnet and Recaro seats to reduce weight to 1218 kg (from 1250 kg). It was a serious road-going race car that matched their rival Porsche 911 RS CS for the final year Mazda officially entered. The formula paid off when the RX-7 SP won the 1995 Eastern Creek 12 Hour, giving Mazda the winning 12hr trophy for a fourth straight year. The winning car also gained a podium finish at the international tarmac rally Targa Tasmania months later. A later special version, the Bathurst R, was released in 2001 to commemorate this, in Japan only. It was based on the RX-7 Type R and 500 were built in total, featuring adjustable dampers, a carbon fibre shift knob, carbon fibre interior trim, special fog lamps and a different parking brake lever.
In the United Kingdom, for 1992, customers were offered only one version of the FD, which was based on a combination of the US touring and the base model. For the following year, in a bid to speed up sales, Mazda reduced the price of the RX-7 to £25,000, down from £32,000, and refunded the difference to those who bought the car before that was announced. From 1992-1995, only 210 FD RX-7s were officially sold in the UK. The FD continued to be imported to the UK until 1996. In 1998, for a car that had suffered from slow sales when it was officially sold, with a surge of interest and the benefit of a newly introduced SVA scheme, the FD would become so popular that there were more parallel and grey imported models brought into the country than Mazda UK had ever imported.
- Series 6 (1992–1995) was exported throughout the world and had the highest sales. In Japan, Mazda sold the RX-7 through its ɛ̃fini brand as the ɛ̃fini RX-7. Models in Japan included the Type S, the base model, Type R, the lightweight sports model, Type RZ, Type RB, A-spec and the Touring X, which came with a four-speed automatic transmission. Only the 1993–1995 model years were sold in the U.S. and Canada. Series 6 came with 255 PS (188 kW; 252 hp) and 294 N⋅m (217 lb⋅ft).
- In 1993, three North American models were offered; the "base", the touring, and the R models. The touring FD included a sunroof, fog lights, leather seats, a rear window wiper and a Bose Acoustic Wave system. The R (R1 in 1993 and R2 in 1994–95) models featured upgraded springs, Bilstein shocks, an additional engine oil cooler, an aerodynamics package comprising a front lip and rear wing, and suede seats. The R2 differed from the R1 in that it had slightly softer suspension. In 1994, the interior received a small update to include a passenger air bag, and a PEG (performance equipment group) model was offered. This model featured leather seats and a sunroof. It did not include the fog lights or Bose stereo of the touring package. In 1995, the touring package was replaced by the PEP (popular equipment package). The PEP package contained a rear wing, leather seats, sunroof and fog lights, but didn't have the Bose Stereo nor the rear window wiper.
- In Europe, only 1152 examples of this model were sold through the official Mazda network. Only one spec was available and it included twin oil-coolers, electric sunroof, cruise control and the rear storage bins in place of the back seats. It also has the stiffer suspension and strut braces from the R models. Germany top the sales with 446 cars, while UK is second at 210 and Greece third with 168. The European models also received the 1994 interior facelift, with a passenger air bag.
|Series 6 (1992–1995)|
|Type R||188 kW (252 hp; 256 PS)||294 N⋅m (217 lbf⋅ft)||5-speed manual||1,260 kg (2,778 lb)|
|Type RZ||1,230 kg (2,712 lb)|
|EU-Spec||176 kW (236 hp; 239 PS)||N/A N·m (N/A lb·ft)||5-speed manual||1,325 kg (2,921 lb)|
|Touring X||188 kW (252 hp; 256 PS)||294 N⋅m (217 lbf⋅ft)||4-speed automatic|
- Series 7 (1996–1998) included minor changes to the car. Updates included a simplified vacuum routing manifold and a 16-bit ECU which combined with an improved intake system netted an extra 10 PS (7 kW). This additional horsepower was only available on manual transmission cars as the increase in power was only seen above 7000 rpm, which was the redline for automatic transmission equipped cars. The rear spoiler and tail lights were also redesigned. The Type RZ model was now equipped with larger brake rotors as well as 17 inch BBS wheels. In Japan, the Series 7 RX-7 was marketed under the Mazda and ɛ̃fini brand name. The Series 7 was also sold in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Series 7 RX-7s were produced only in right-hand-drive configuration.
- Series 8 (1998–2002) was the final series, and was only available in the Japanese market. More efficient turbochargers were available on certain models, while improved intercooling and radiator cooling was made possible by a redesigned front fascia with larger openings. The seats, steering wheel, and instrument cluster were all changed. The rear spoiler was modified and gained adjustability on certain models. Three horsepower levels are available: 255 PS for automatic transmission equipped cars, 265 PS for the Type RB, and 280 PS available on the top-of-the-line sporting models.
The high-end "Type RS" came equipped with Bilstein suspension and 17-inch wheels as standard equipment, and reduced weight to 1,280 kg (2,822 lb). Power was increased with the addition of a less restrictive muffler and more efficient turbochargers which featured abradable compressor seals, 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) at 6500 rpm and 314 N⋅m (232 lb⋅ft) of torque at 5000 rpm as per the maximum Japanese limit. The Type RS had a brake upgrade by increasing rotor diameter front and rear to 314 mm (12.4 in) and front rotor thickness from 22 mm (0.9 in) to 32 mm (1.3 in). The Type RS version also sported a 4.30 ratio differential, providing a significant reduction in its 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time. The gearbox was also modified, 5th gear was made longer to reduce cruising rpm and improve fuel efficiency. The very limited edition Type RZ version included all the features of the Type RS, but at a lighter weight, at 1,270 kg (2,800 lb). It also featured custom gun-metal colored BBS wheels and a custom red racing themed interior. An improved ABS system worked by braking differently on each wheel, allowing the car better turning during braking. The effective result made for safer driving for the average buyer. Easily the most collectible of all the RX-7s were the last 1,500 run-out specials. Dubbed the "Spirit R", they combined all the "extra" features Mazda had used on previous limited-run specials with new exclusive features like cross-drilled brake rotors. Sticker prices when new were 3,998,000 yen for Type-A and B and 3,398,000 yen for Type-C. Mazda's press release said "The Type-A Spirit R model is the ultimate RX-7, boasting the most outstanding driving performance in its history."
- There are three models of "Spirit R": the "Type A", "Type B", and "Type C". The "Type A" is a two-seater with a 5-speed manual transmission. It features lightweight red trim Recaro front seats as seen in the earlier RZ models. The "Type B" shares all features of the "Type A" except has a 2+2 seat configuration. The "Type C" is also a 2+2, but has a four-speed automatic transmission. Of the 1504 Spirit R's made, over 1000 were Type A's. An exclusive Spirit R paint color, Titanium Grey, adorned over 700 of the 1500 cars sold.
In Japan the FD3S production span is categorized into 6 models: #1 from 1991/12, #2 from 1993/08, #3 from 1995/03, #4 from 1996/01, #5 from 1998/12 and #6 from 2000/10. The model number (1 to 6) actually shows as the first digit of the 6 digits long JDM VIN, for example in VIN# FD3S-ABCDEF the A is the model number. A total of 9 limited editions (type RZ in 1992/10 (300 cars), RZ 1993/10 (150), R-II Bathurst 1994/09 (350), R Bathurst X 1995/07 (777), RB Bathurst X 1997/01 (700), RS-R 1997/10 (500), RZ 2000/10 (325), R Bathurst R 2001/08 (650), Spirit R 2002/04 (1500)) and 2 special editions (Bathurst R 1995/02, R Bathurst 2001/12) were produced.
|Series 8 (1998–2002)|
|Type RB||195 kW
(261 hp; 265 PS)
|294 N·m (217 lb·ft)||5-speed manual||1,310 kg (2,888 lb)||2+2||294 mm (11.6 in)||16x8.0JJ (front)
|Type RB 4AT||188 kW
(252 hp; 255 PS)
|4-speed automatic||1,340 kg (2,954 lb)|
|Type RB-S||195 kW
(261 hp; 265 PS)
|5-speed manual||1,320 kg (2,888 lb)||225/50ZR16 (front)|
|Type R||206 kW
(276 hp; 280 PS)
|314 N·m (231 lb·ft)||1,310 kg (2,888 lb)|
|1,280 kg (2,822 lb)|
|Type RS||314 mm (12.4 in)||17x8.0JJ (front)
|Type RZ||1,270 kg (2,800 lb)||2|
|1,280 kg (2,822 lb)||2+2|
(252 hp; 255 PS)
|4-speed automatic||294 mm (11.6 in)|
Reviews and awards
The FD RX-7 was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year. When Playboy first reviewed the FD RX-7 in 1993, they tested it in the same issue as the [then] new Dodge Viper. In that issue, Playboy declared the RX-7 to be the better of the two cars. It went on to win Playboy's Car of the Year for 1993. The FD RX-7 also made Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 1993 through 1995, for every year in which it was sold state-side. June 2007 Road & Track proclaimed "The ace in Mazda's sleeve is the RX-7, a car once touted as the purest, most exhilarating sports car in the world." After its introduction in 1991, it won the Automotive Researchers' and Journalists' Conference Car of the Year award in Japan.
Handling in the FD was regarded as world-class, and it is still regarded as being one of the finest handling and the best balanced cars of all time. The continued use of the front-midship engine and drivetrain layout, combined with a 50:50 front-rear weight distribution ratio and low center of gravity, made the FD a very competent car at the limits.
Racing versions of the first-generation RX-7 were entered at the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race. The first outing for the car, equipped with a 13B engine, failed by less than one second to qualify in 1979. The next year, a 12A-equipped RX-7 not only qualified, it placed 21st overall. That same car did not finish in 1981, along with two more 13B cars. Those two cars were back for 1982, with one 14th-place finish and another DNF. The RX-7 Le Mans effort was replaced by the 717C prototype for 1983. In 1991, Mazda made racing history becoming the first Japanese automobile manufacturer to win the 24 hours of Le Mans. The car was a 4-rotor prototype, the 787B. Mazda was the only Japanese manufacturer to have won the prestigious 24-hour Le Mans race outright until Toyota’s win in 2018. Mazda is also the only manufacturer to win the 24 hours of Le Mans race using something other than a reciprocating piston engine.
Mazda began racing RX-7s in the IMSA GTU series in 1979. In its first year, RX-7s placed first and second at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and claimed the GTU series championship. The car continued winning, claiming the GTU championship seven years in a row. The RX-7 took the GTO championship ten years in a row from 1982. In addition to this, a GTX version was developed, named the Mazda RX-7 GTP; this was unsuccessful, and the GTP version of the car was also unsuccessful. The RX-7 has won more IMSA races than any other car model. In the USA SCCA competition RX-7s were raced with great success by Don Kearney in the NE Division and John Finger in the SE Division. Pettit Racing won the GT2 Road Racing Championship in 1998. The car was a 93 Mazda RX-7 street car with only bolt-on accessories. At season end Pettit had 140 points—63 points more than the 2nd place team. This same car finished the Daytona Rolex 24-hour race 4 times.
The RX-7 also fared well at the Spa 24 Hours race. Three Savanna/RX-7s were entered in 1981 by Tom Walkinshaw Racing. After hours of battling with several BMW 530i's and Ford Capris, the RX-7 driven by Pierre Dieudonné and Tom Walkinshaw won the event. Mazda had turned the tables on BMW, who had beaten Mazda's Familia Rotary to the podium eleven years earlier at the same event. TWR's prepared RX-7s also won the British Touring Car Championship in 1980 and 1981, driven by Win Percy.
Canadian born Australian touring car driver Allan Moffat was instrumental in bringing Mazda into the Australian touring car scene which ran to Group C regulations unique to Australia. Over a four-year span beginning in 1981, Moffat took the Mazda RX-7 to victory in the 1983 Australian Touring Car Championship, as well as a trio of Bathurst 1000 podiums, in 1981 (3rd with Derek Bell), 1983 (second with Yoshimi Katayama) and 1984 (third with former motorcycle champion Gregg Hansford). Privateer racer Peter McLeod drove his RX-7 to win the 1983 Australian Endurance Championship, while Moffat won the Endurance title in 1982 and 1984. Australia's adoption of international Group A regulations, combined with Mazda's reluctance to homologate a Group A RX-7 (meaning that a base number of 5,000 had to be built, plus another 500 "evolution" models), ended Mazda's active participation in Australian touring car racing at the end of the 1984 season. Plans had been in place to replace the RX-7 with a Mazda 929, but testing by Allan Moffat in late 1984 had indicated that the car would be uncompetitive and Mazda abandoned plans to race in Group A.
The RX-7 even made an appearance in the World Rally Championship. The car finished 11th on its debut at the RAC Rally in Wales in 1981. Group B received much of the focus for the first part of the 1980s, but Mazda did manage to place third at the 1985 Acropolis Rally, and when the Group B was folded, its Group A-based replacement, the 323 4WD claimed the victory at Swedish Rally in both 1987 and 1989.
Mazda has made several references to a revival of the RX-7 in various forms over the years since the RX-8 was discontinued. In November 2012, MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto indicated that Mazda was working on a 16X based RX-7, with 300 horsepower.
In October 2015, Mazda unveiled the RX-Vision concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show, powered by a new rotary engine and featured design cues reminiscent to the third generation RX-7. A production-ready concept could follow suit by 2017, marking 50 years since the revealing of Mazda's first rotary-powered sports car, the Mazda Cosmo. As a halo car for the Mazda brand, this vehicle may enter production as the RX-9.
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- I Love FD3S RX-7, book in Japanese ISBN 4-87366-999-5
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- "Does Mazda Have a 400-HP RX-9 In the Works for 2019?". Retrieved August 28, 2016.
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Mazda automobile timeline, North American market, 1980s–present
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