Mazda RX-7

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Mazda RX-7
Production period: 1978-2002
Class : Sports car
Body versions : Combi coupe
Previous model: Mazda 818
Mazda RX-3
Successor: Mazda RX-8

The Mazda RX-7 is a sports car from Mazda , which was produced by the spring of 1978 to the summer of 2002. The special features of the RX-7 are its rotary engine and its pop-up headlights .

In the almost 25 years of the entire series, 811,000 vehicles were built.

RX-7 / Savanna (SA22C, 1978-1981)

1st generation (1st series)
Mazda RX-7 (1978-1981)

Mazda RX-7 (1978-1981)

Production period: 1978-1981
Body versions : Combi coupe
Engines: Otto-Wankel :
1.2 liters
(77-96 kW)
Length: 4265 mm
Width: 1650 mm
Height: 1260 mm
Wheelbase :
Empty weight : 1005-1095 kg

In March 1978 Mazda brought the RX-7 (internal factory name: SA2) on the market. The then head of development, Kenichi Yamamoto, started with the points of criticism such as the consumption and durability of the rotary piston engine and improved these properties over the long term. In the first generation, the 2-rotor Wankel engine achieved an output of 77 kW (105 hp ) at 6000 revolutions per minute , and a maximum torque of 147 Nm at 4,000 revolutions per minute.

When the Mazda RX-7 appeared, the era of the rotary engine was almost over. Until 1978, Mazda had almost every model in its range with a rotary engine. Except for the Mazda 929, all models with a rotary engine should be phased out this year . The high consumption, the increased gasoline prices since the oil crisis and the bad reputation of the NSU engines had unsettled prospective buyers.

Rear view

Other manufacturers had long since parted with the Wankel engine: the NSU Ro80 rolled off the production line for the last time in the spring of 1977. Mercedes had also stopped the development in the mid-1970s, although the spectacular Mercedes-Benz C111 , a crowd puller at many auto shows, had been developed there.

Nevertheless, this should not be the end of the Wankel engine, because the RX-7 became a market success in the sports car sector. In Germany, the RX-7 was available for the comparatively cheap sum of DM 22,186. This made it a serious competitor to the Porsche 924, which was 6,000 DM more expensive. In the main US market, the price difference between the RX-7 and the 924 was even greater at 7195 to 11,995 dollars (1979).

The chassis was not spectacular ( MacPherson struts on the front axle and a neatly guided rigid axle with coil springs at the rear). Nevertheless, the driving behavior can be described as very good and easy to control, due to the Wankel engine, which is very small and light, thus enables a very low center of gravity and allows the almost perfect weight distribution from front axle to rear axle of 52:48 percent. With a weight of only 1050 kg, real sports car values ​​can be achieved, at least for the conditions at the time: 10 seconds to 100 km / h and 192 km / h top speed. Cranking the engine up to 7000 rpm is pleasant thanks to the vibration-free running, because unlike reciprocating engines, the twin-disc rotary engine (with 2 × 573 cm³ chamber volume) does not drone. However, the engine behaves far less pleasantly at low speeds.

RX-7 (FB2, 1981-1985)

1st generation (2nd and 3rd series)
Mazda RX-7 (1983)

Mazda RX-7 (1983)

Production period: 1981-1985
Body versions : Combi coupe
Engines: Otto-Wankel :
1.2 liters (85 kW)
Length: 4290 mm
Width: 1690 mm
Height: 1240 mm
Wheelbase : 2420 mm
Empty weight : 1060 kg

The change made in the spring of 1981 was mainly due to an increase in the performance of the rotary engine. The revised version now achieved an output of 85 kW (115 hp) at 6000 rpm and a torque of 152 Nm at 4000 rpm. In addition, disc brakes were installed at the rear and the interior was upgraded.

The models from spring 1981 to the end of 1983 can be recognized by their rotary rims. From the beginning of 1984 there were larger wheels in the format 205 / 60R14 and an interior that was upgraded again.

The performance thanks to its low weight and good C w values is still impressive today. There weren't many cars with just 85 kW (115 hp) capable of reaching a top speed of over 200 km / h and accelerating to 100 km / h in under nine seconds. The relatively low price in the USA and the smoothness and reliability of the Wankel, known there as the "Rotary Motor", contributed to the success of the car.

Rear view

The successor models (FC and FD) followed the trend and made the RX-7 larger, heavier and more complex, which also made the vehicle considerably more expensive. Thus, the circle of buyers narrowed and the sales figures fell significantly. With the Mazda MX-5 , Mazda remembers the successful concept of the light, agile and affordable sports car and revitalized the roadster segment.

More than 471,000 copies of these first two generations were produced. This makes it the most successful rotary vehicle.

RX-7 (FC3S, 1985-1991)

2nd generation
Mazda RX-7 (1985-1991)

Mazda RX-7 (1985-1991)

Production period: 1985-1991
Body versions : Coupé , convertible
Engines: Otto-Wankel :
1.3 liters
(110-147 kW)
Length: 4325 mm
Width: 1690 mm
Height: 1265 mm
Wheelbase : 2430 mm
Empty weight : 1240-1330 kg

In October 1985, the completely redesigned RX-7 with the Japanese name FC3S was presented on the Japanese market and was available at dealers a short time later. It was available in Japan in the trim levels GT, GT-R, GT-Limited and GT-X.

RX-7 (FC3S) , rear view


Only the turbo-charged version of the revised 13B rotary engine was offered on the Japanese market. This engine developed 136 kW (185 hp) and was later also available in Germany, but here with 132 kW (180 hp). This was the engine known from Japan, which, however, had less power due to a pre-catalytic converter, a revised main catalytic converter and a modified cold run control.

The developers at Mazda paid particular attention to charging this engine. The twin-scroll technology was used to improve the response . As a turbocharger, Mazda relied on a Hitachi HT18 charger, which is oil and water-cooled.


In February 1986 Mazda presented the new RX-7 in Europe, which should leave the standards of the time that applied to normal passenger cars far behind. The model name in Europe was FC. The new design of the body was based heavily on Porsche vehicles, especially the 944 model series . The engine developed 110 kW (150 PS) in a suction version. Turbocharged engines with 132 kW (180 hp) followed in 1987, and from 1989 with 147 kW (200 hp). After 1987 no suction versions were offered on the German market.

Compared to the previous model, the car was equipped with a significantly more complex chassis: all-round independent wheel suspension as well as a steering rear axle and larger 15-inch wheels (from 132 kW / 180 PS 16-inch wheels) did justice to the additional power.


In 1988 a convertible version appeared, which was available in the 110 kW (150 PS) suction version until 1989 and in the 147 kW (200 PS) turbo version until 1991.

In March 1989 the FC series was revised. The new version now developed 151 kW (205 hp) in Japan. The most important technical changes were the increase in compression to 9.0: 1, the use of harder timing gears for the runners, the introduction of an electronically controlled oil supply for the lubrication of the sealing strips, improvement of the gas flow of the twin scroll charger, changes in the engine electronics, Improvement of the flow in the intake manifold, stronger design of the gearbox and differential. The chassis was also slightly changed, in particular the stabilizers and stabilizer attachments were affected by the change.


The 110 kW models accelerate to 100 km / h in around 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 210 km / h. The 132 kW engine accelerates to 100 km / h in seven seconds and the top speed increases to 230 km / h.

The 147 kW engine was also offered as a convertible from March 1989, which (after the NSU Wankel Spider from 1964) was the second and so far last series convertible with a Wankel engine. It reaches a top speed of 235 km / h. The Coupé takes around six seconds from 0 to 100 km / h and is specified with a top speed of 240 km / h. The time for the quarter mile was given in a test by "Road & Track" in 1990 as 14.5 seconds and was thus on the level of the Corvette of that time .

With the compact and lightweight 2-disc rotary engine, which is installed behind the front axle, you achieved a very good weight distribution and thus excellent handling. The road holding of the RX-7FC could compete with all sports cars of the time. Back then, the chassis already had light alloy wishbones and the brakes had four-piston brake calipers, which ensured good deceleration values.

At the beginning of 1991, the special version of the FC model series appeared in Japan, limited to 300 vehicles called InfiniIV. The engine output in this version was 158 kW (215 hp). Infini model series are coveted collector's items by many RX-7 enthusiasts.

Around 272,000 vehicles were built from this generation of models.

The successor RX-7 FD replaced the RX-7 FC in Germany from the beginning of 1992.

RX-7 (FD3S, 1991-2002)

3rd generation
Mazda RX-7

Mazda RX-7

Production period: 1991-2002
Engines: Otto-Wankel :
1.3 liters (176–206 kW)
Length: 4295 mm
Width: 1760 mm
Height: 1230 mm
Wheelbase : 2425 mm
Empty weight : 1270-1310 kg

The RX-7 (code: FD) represented the consistent further development of the predecessor. With a further improved and still turbo-charged 13B-REW rotary engine, an output of 206 kW (280 PS) at 6500 rpm was achieved in the last expansion stage maximum torque of 314 Nm at 5000 rpm.

The FD was the most powerful model from the RX-7 series and impressed with special details such as a generously dimensioned brake system and bucket seats.

In Germany, this RX-7 was only offered from spring 1992 to early 1996, before new emissions regulations made it impossible to sell new cars of this type. Among other things, the relatively high new price of 85,000 DM at the time meant that only a few vehicles were sold in Germany.

The German model had the following technical data:

  • 2-disc rotary engine with 1308 cm³ (2 × 654 cm³)
  • Output: 176 kW / 239 hp at 6500 rpm.
  • Torque: 294 Nm at 5000 rpm.
  • Acceleration 0–100 km / h: 5.3 s
  • Top speed: 250 km / h
  • C W value: 0.31
  • Empty weight: 1300 kg
  • Consumption [liters / 100 km]: 16.0 l (city) / 7.6 l (90 km / h) / 9.6 l (120 km / h) / 11.1 l (third mix)
  • Fuel: super 95 octane

Most recently, the RX-7 was only offered in Japan. Since this was the last and most powerful series of the RX-7, the model is now a sought-after collector's item. In Japan, the RX-7 was also represented in the Ẽfini brand model range .

Rear view

Mazda built six versions of the FD3S:

  • Variant 1: 10 / 1991-08 / 1993
  • Variant 2: 08 / 1993-03 / 1995
  • Variant 3: 03/1995–01/1996
  • Variant 4: 01 / 1996-12 / 1998
  • Variant 5: 12 / 1998-10 / 2000
  • Variant 6: 10 / 2000-08 / 2002

The last RX-7s built were sold as a special Spirit R version .

Overall, fewer than 69,000 copies were made of this last generation. The Wankel engine of the RX-7 achieves a mileage of 200,000 km without any problems.

Web links

Commons : Mazda RX-7  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • Automobil Revue , catalog number 1979 (technical data).
  • I love FD3S RX-7 . Neko Mook. ISBN 4-87366-999-5 (Japanese).
  • Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002. Krause Publishing, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8 , pp. 506-521.
  • Brian Long: RX-7: Mazda's Rotary Sports Car . Veloce Publishing PLC. ISBN 1-904788-03-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. of January 29, 2018, Tradition: 40 Years of the Mazda RX-7 , accessed on September 9, 2018.
  2. a b c Bob Sorokanich: The Mazda RX-7 Turns 40. In: Road & Track. July 4, 2018, accessed September 9, 2018 .
  3., Mazda RX7 (FD) , especially Chapter I Facts & Figures , accessed on September 8, 2018.
  4., Mazda RX7 (FD) , especially Chapter I Facts & Figures, "Data" table , accessed on September 8, 2018.
  5. AutoBild, February 25, 2002, Generation X , accessed September 29, 2018.