We en­joy the Mazda RX-7 and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -


A prop­erly main­tained RX-7 would be good to drive ev­ery day. It goes from 0-60mph in just un­der 10 sec­onds on its way to a 115mph top speed – more than enough to keep up with mod­ern traf­fic. The steer­ing and clutch are light and the five-speed gear­box is a plea­sure to use. De­spite our ( good-na­tured) jibes about its oh-so pe­riod in­te­rior, the RX-7 is ex­tremely com­fort­able and vis­i­bil­ity is ex­cel­lent front and rear, so it’s very easy to park. If there’s a ma­jor down­side, it’s that the Wankel en­gine was never known for its econ­omy; you’ll be lucky to get much more than 25mpg from this car – rather less if you stretch that won­der­ful en­gine.


If it’s looked af­ter prop­erly, the RX-7’s strong and sim­ple ro­tary en­gine can last for thou­sands of miles, but ne­glect it and reg­u­larly floor the throt­tle be­fore ev­ery­thing has had a chance to warm through and you can eas­ily end up with a blown en­gine. A pro­fes­sional en­gine re­build costs in the re­gion of £3000, so make sure that the oil is changed ev­ery 3000 miles or so and that the car has high qual­ity coolant.

Few parts are avail­able off the shelf for these first gen­er­a­tion RX-7s but club and spe­cial­ist sup­port is ex­cel­lent and there’s a great sense of ca­ma­raderie among own­ers. Own­ing one of these cars is, in many ways, a way of life.


These cars were well-re­ceived by the motoring press when they were new and are still re­garded as the stuff of leg­end by many. All you need to do to at­tract en­thu­si­as­tic crowds at a clas­sic car show is to open the bon­net and wait for many cu­ri­ous heads to dis­ap­pear into the en­gine bay. A teas­ingly brief demon­stra­tion of the car’s in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic en­gine note will serve to both gen­er­ate end­less in­ter­est, and hope­fully si­lence te­diously un­in­formed com­ments about un­re­li­a­bil­ity, lousy econ­omy and high oil con­sump­tion. But an early RX-7 will still draw the crowds, even with the bon­net closed. Af­ter all, when did you last see one?


We can think of few bet­ter clas­sics to load up with lug­gage and pas­sen­gers and set off on a trek. Pro­vid­ing, that is, that you care­fully plot the lo­ca­tion of fill­ing sta­tions on your route and en­sure that your rear seat pas­sen­gers are chil­dren – adults will feel quite hemmedin. The RX-7 is re­lax­ing to drive, with plenty of smooth, un­ruf­fled power and a fifth gear to make mo­tor­way driv­ing a plea­sure. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is smooth and un­ruf­fled and in­te­rior com­fort su­perb. It’s well-equipped, too, with lit­tle things like a re­mote re­lease for the tail­gate and a coin holder re­duc­ing driv­ing stresses in their own lit­tle way.


It may be re­laxed and com­fort­ing when you need it to be, but the RX-7 has a lairy side, too. Wring­ing the ab­so­lute max­i­mum out of all those revs is a real eye-opener in a car with such a re­mark­able power-to-weight ra­tio and it will take vir­tu­ally any driv­ing abuse. But it isn’t the sort of car you’d want to throw in to cor­ners – that rear spoiler keeps ev­ery­thing so well pinned down that it’s more grippy than play­ful. Some will like it that way, of course, but oth­ers may pre­fer a lit­tle more slip.

The steer­ing is good, too – if not quite as fluid as the rest of the car – and eas­ily mas­tered. For rapid, grippy progress, then, it has few peers.

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