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Iconic Cars: Mazda RX-7

[dropcap style=”style1″]P[/dropcap]urity is the mark for perfection. A no-nonsense, no compromise principle for a single-handed task, Mazda’s FD RX-7 is the embodiment of purity as it was only built with what is necessary and every part with a focused purpose.  The RX-7 is a pureblooded sports car, punching well above its weight class despite having lower numbers on paper.

Introduced in late 1991 for 1992, the FD took the RX-7 nameplate to another level. With an aerodynamic and futuristic design the body remains clean and flowing following design purity, it brought the RX-7 into the modern world. Following sports car purity, the RX-7 only came only one way: faster. All variants featured the twin turbo 13B Rotary engine, with options limited to interior or chassis dynamics. An automatic transmission was one of the few options. Models included the “base”, touring, and R1 for the track day enthusiast, with many specialty models throughout the years.

Two distinguishing features make an RX-7, the weight, or lack thereof, and the Wankel Rotary engine. The 13B carried over from the previous RX-7 now features sequential twin-turbochargers. Delivering 10 psi of boost first from the smaller turbo, and then leading another 10 psi on the larger turbo, the 13B-REW delivers 255bhp at its peak of 8000 rpm. Tie this in with a 2,800 lb curb weight, the RX-7 punches with the more powerful Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. Transmitting the power only to the rear wheels, the RX-7 is a perfect contender in handling and weight balance. The Rotary engine remains compact and light, sitting behind the front axle.

With such focus on one goal comes with drawbacks however. In this case, the RX-7 is plagued with reliability issues. The Rotary engine inherently can be a problematic design with apex seals being a weak point, Mazda had not perfected the design and thus were prone to failure in addition to turbocharger issues that meant the RX-7 could very easily become a paperweight instead of a track day hero. All of this tied with cooling issues meant many RX-7’s were either engine swapped, or abandoned completely.

Still, when the RX-7 did work it worked very well. So well, that a 1993 R1 bested an Acura NSX in performance testing while costing considerably less. It made Motortrend’s Import Car of the Year category for 1993, and Car and Driver’s 10 Best list for its entire US production of 1992 through 1995. Production of the RX-7 finalized in the Japanese market in 2002.

Sleek, balanced, pure. The FD RX-7 delivered the sports car experience better than any car on the market if the only thing it delivered. A no nonsense, no frills, no compromise car delivering its driver with high-risk, high reward drive. Mazda RX-7, timeless, refined, pure.

Next time we will be taking a look at the king of the hill, the Toyota Supra.

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