40 Years of Mazda RX-7

By: Unique Cars magazine

mazda rx7 mazda rx7

Hitting the streets with a whole new rotary series was a bold move


Happy Anniversary Mazda RX-7 - 40 years

In hindsight, Mazda’s decision to go ahead with a 1978 launch of its RX-7 was courageous. Sure it was the most experienced maker of rotary-powered vehicles on the planet, but really it seemed like the platform’s best days might be over as the bulk of the car market clearly loved its four-strokes.

Though a long-nosed two-door coupe was hardly a new concept, the proportions of this car was among the best of its era, and arguably a prettier car than the roughly equivalent Porsche 924-and-on series.

| Buyer's guide: Mazda RX-7 Series 1-3


As Cliff Chambers recently pointed out: With 1.1 litres of twin rotor engine replacing conventional pistons the low-slung coupe with its hidden headlamps and hatchback access changed the shape and concept of sports car motoring.

Selling in Australia for a whisker less than $15,000 the Mazda was pitched directly against Alfa Romeo’s ageing GTV 2000 and undercut Nissan’s heavyweight 280ZX by almost $5000.

Mazda’s route to success was made easier by the imminent demise of open-top British models including the Triumph TR7 and MGB. Certainly the RX-7 was fundamental to revival of the lucrative North American sporty car market.


| Buyer's guide: Mazda RX-7 Series 4-5

The original RX-7 was not fast in absolute terms but made amends via a responsive chassis. The tiny engine initially produced only 77kW and needed to be spinning above 4000rpm before delivering full performance.

On the race-track, the Mazda’s light weight and durability ensured excellent results. The most obvious beneficiary was Allan Moffat, who abandoned his long-running Ford allegiance for a peripherally-ported RX-7 that won the Canadian his 4th Australian Touring Car title. Moffat’s international results included first in class at the 1982 Daytona 24 Hour sports car race.


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