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Mazda RX-7

Published: 25th Oct 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mazda RX-7
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There are other cheap classic sports cars out there, but none has the mix of the RX-7’s ultra-smooth powerplant, typical Japanese reliability and rarity. While the latter counts against it because fi nding a good RX-7 can be tricky, they are out there, many priced very cheaply as there’s still relatively little awareness of these cars. But there’s more specialist support than you might think, with a wide range of new and used bits on offer, including tuning parts that will allow you to turn an RX-7 into a true road racer. Indeed, things are looking rosy for these early RX-7s now; as demand increases, so values creep up and restorations start to become viable. And with Mazda fi nally calling time on the Wankel engine, values for good originals are sure to move North.

What to look for

Forget the engine; frilly bodywork is what’s killed off most early RX-7s. First areas to go are the wheelarches; if these are rust-free, the rest of the car is likely to be largely okay. Once corrosion gets into the rear wheelarches, it spreads to the sills, fl oorpans and rear suspension link mountings, the latter two being particularly awkward to rectify. Remove the rear seat and see if the metal below is rotten – if it is, walk away. Other key rot spots include the footwells, doora, inner front wings and the lower corners of the windscreen.

Engines last 100,000 miles happily; three times this isn’t unknown _ yes really! The key is 3000-mile oil changes; rebuilds cost £1500-3000. Poor hot starting is the symptom of a worn engine, along with fouled plugs. Clutches and gearboxes also last 100,000 miles; replacements cost £200 and £400 exchange respectively, although a good used transmission can be bought for around £200. The suspension gives few problems, the main issue being worn lower ball joints at the front. Expect to pay £80 per side, complete with the control arm. You’ll also need to ensure the bushes haven’t perished; they’re all available in polyurethane, which is the recommended route to take to improve handling.

New exterior trim is extinct, but used parts are available. The RX-7 usually featured velour trim which is reasonably hardwearing. If it does need TLC, you’ll struggle to fi nd better used trim. Make especially sure the electric windows are working, as their switches burn out. It’s a similar story for the wiper on the rear hatch; this stops working when the contacts burn out.


There’s little difference in values between the various derivatives, except at the top of the market, so focus on condition rather than specifi cation. Immaculate TWR and Elford examples are worth the most, with the Mk1 close behind; these are also the rarest derivatives. Next comes the Mk3, with the Mk2 worth the least. Restoration projects are £500+, decent cars more like £2000. The best cars fetch up to £5000, but they’ll have to be exceptional to attract such sums unless they’re TWR or Elford editions.

Driving one

If you’re used to more conventional classics, you have to adjust your mindset before driving an RX-7, largely because of that engine. At no point is there any vibration; it’s so smooth that it’ll happily spin round to 7000rpm, a warning buzzer sounding 200rpm before the redline, to save you detonating the powerplant. Performance is brisk rather than spectacular, but the fi ve-speed gearbox has a slick shift so swapping ratios isn’t a problem. The fi tment of a steering box rather than a rack ensures the tiller isn’t as precise as it might be, but the ride is amazingly good for what’s meant to be a focused sports car.

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