1985 Mazda RX-7

Illustration for article titled 1985 Mazda RX-7

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. We've had a real Mazda shortage around these parts, probably because the early rotaries tended to blow out the apex seals and/or suck gas and thus didn't weather the decades quite as well as their piston-engine competition. There's been an '81 RX-7 (plus one non-Wankel '82 Mazda) and that's been it until today. I've decided to go deeper into the 80s to enable more RX-7s to qualify for this series, because they were great cars on the street (and on the racetrack) and deserve our respect.

Illustration for article titled 1985 Mazda RX-7

Sure, it was a nightmare to make the Wankel pass America's ever-toughening smog standards (and let's not even mention the complexity of the later RX-7 Turbo's emissions gear), but the power-to-weight of that little engine was nuts. The '85 GSL weighed a mere 2,345 pounds and went pretty well with 101 horses. However, the following year was the debut of the Honda CRX Si, with 91 horses driving just 1,865 pounds. Sure, the Honda had front-wheel-drive, but the Mazda was suddenly looking a bit heavy.

Illustration for article titled 1985 Mazda RX-7

This car's owner must be treating those apex seals right, because I see it on the move frequently. A 23-year-old daily driver with a Wankel!

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Rob Emslie

First of all, that's an '86 . . . Just kidding Murilee.

I remember when the RX-7 first came out. Mazda was making these terrible little cars called the GLC, and the closest thing to the RX-7 on the market at the time was the Porsche 924, which was a butt-load more expensive.

The RX-7 looked pretty cool, only some of the detailing was wonky, and it seemed to really make people look differently at Mazda. Still, that old Wankel was a piece of crap to maintain. I don't think they got the peak seals, or whatever you call them right until the '90s and they drink both gas and oil like a Kennedy at a cash bar.

Still, plaid seats, Whoo-hoo!