VI­TAL CHECKS

Motor (Australia) - - BUYING A MODERN CLASSIC -

EN­GINE

THE RX-7’s 13B-REW en­gine is an in­her­ently re­li­able unit. To achieve that, how­ever, re­quires reg­u­lar main­te­nance – ide­ally an oil and fil­ter change ev­ery 5000km. If the car you’re view­ing doesn’t come with proof of this, are there any other signs of ne­glect? A com­pres­sion test is de­sir­able when in­spect­ing any ro­tary-en­gined car – you’re look­ing for be­tween seven and eight bar of pres­sure, any­thing be­low that could mean an im­mi­nent en­gine re­build ($5000 up­wards at a ro­tary spe­cial­ist). Oil con­sump­tion tends to av­er­age a quar­ter of a litre ev­ery 1600km, mak­ing reg­u­lar checks es­sen­tial in or­der to main­tain en­gine health. An­nual coolant changes are vi­tal to pre­vent wreck­ing the seals in the sys­tem; if there’s steam from the ex­haust on start-up, there has al­ready been some dam­age. Check that the orig­i­nal in­ter­cooler is in place if the car is meant to be stan­dard-spec. High un­der-bon­net tem­per­a­tures can lead to prob­lems with the tur­bocharger so­le­noids and rub­ber pipes, of­ten caus­ing er­ratic turbo be­hav­iour.

TRANS­MIS­SION

The FD-se­ries RX-7 comes with a stan­dard five-speed man­ual ’box that’s ro­bust and re­li­able, though some Ja­panese-spec cars have the four-speed auto op­tion. On man­ual cars, other than car­ry­ing out the usual checks for worn syn­chro­mesh (es­pe­cially on first and sec­ond) and a slip­ping clutch, there’s lit­tle to worry about. Up­rated RX-7s some­times need a clutch up­grade to han­dle the extra power, so ask about this if buy­ing a mod­i­fied car.

SUS­PEN­SION

Dou­ble wish­bones front and rear give im­pres­sively bal­anced han­dling. If it feels sloppy or is a high-mileage car, you may need to in­vest in a set of new poly bushes. Less than $1000 will buy you front and rear Pow­er­flex bush kits (via the Aus­tralian web­site) to re­ally sharpen up the han­dling, though stan­dard-spec bushes are cheaper. The Torsen-style rear diff is a tough unit, but axle tramp un­der hard stand­ing-start ac­cel­er­a­tion may be a sign that the power frame to which the gear­box at­taches is dam­aged, al­low­ing a small amount of move­ment in the trans­mis­sion.

BODY & STRUC­TURE

Not par­tic­u­larly rust-prone by Ja­panese stan­dards, but it’s not un­known for the rear whee­larches, the bot­toms of the doors and the front guards to suffer. It’s also worth bear­ing in mind that the RX-7 was of­fi­cially im­ported in full vol­ume by Mazda Aus­tralia. Ja­panese-spec cars are renowned for their lack of rust pre­ven­tion treat­ments, so grey im­ports (cars built be­tween 1999-2002) found for sale here need a thor­ough check. If the car has had body mods, check how well the extra spoil­ers and up­grades have been fit­ted.

BRAKES & STEER­ING

With ven­ti­lated discs all round, the brake sys­tem can eas­ily han­dle the power of a stan­dard-spec car. If the brakes need at­ten­tion, you may want to in­vest in an up­grade. The hy­drauli­cally-as­sisted rack and pin­ion steer­ing tends to be trou­ble-free, but check for leaks, worn gaiters and so on.

IN­TE­RIOR & TRIM

The RX-7’s in­te­rior is use­fully hard wear­ing. The half-leather up­hol­stery looks good and lasts well, but check for wear and dam­age to front seat side bol­sters. Ja­panese-mar­ket cars were gen­er­ally two-plus-twos, but some RX-7s had lock­able stor­age bins in place of back seats and the added stor­age helps to make up for the small boot.

01 02 03 04 FOUR Red Re­caro bucket seats hold you in tight for track use and of­fer a splash of colour to the in­te­rior ONE Dash is an­gled to­wards the driver (like a Toy­ota Supra) and fea­tures a steer­ing wheel re­fresh­ingly de­void of but­tons TWO Ex­pect to...

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