In order for a car to be desirable, it must have a value of more than the sum of its parts. The car that embodies this idea flawlessly is Mazda's over-engineered, astonishingly quick and breathtakingly beautiful FD RX-7. Here are a few reasons you need to own one.
It's no surprise that the 90's Japanese hero cars are coming back in a big way. People like me, that grew up with these cars as aspirational playthings are now in the position to afford their meager childhood dream cars, and holy crap, are they ever affordable. Last year, I bought a non-running RX-7 that had been sitting under a tree for nearly a decade, got it running for not much money, and sold it for double my investment, which was used Nissan Versa money.
These things are cheap. You can find a damn-near perfect tastefully modified example for $20k, or find one that needs a little work for about half of that. The prices for these gems will go up, so grab one while you still can.
It's a small price to pay to have one of the best, if not the best looking car produced by Japan in the 90s, and as some would argue (present company included), ever. And speaking of looks...
Unsurprisingly, There aren't many cars made 20 years ago that could legitimately pass for a new car today. The sleek, cutting edge designs of the 90s gave way to angular proportions of the early 2000s, with a resurgence to flowing lines in present-day automotive style. The Mazda RX-7, designed in 1990, just happens to be one of these cars.
(Photo by Tinou Bao on Flickr)
Just look at it, there aren't any straight lines anywhere, simply elegant curves that convey an absolutely unmistakeable shape. Keep in mind this car was being sold alongside cars like the "design by etch-a-sketch" Chevrolet Caprice. The RX7 was a game changer.
The lack of door handles on the car's painted bodywork give a seamless look, and the wheel arches aren't flared as much as they are sculpted and formed to the body's subtle contours. Whether this car is considered a "chick car" or not, its style is distinctively and traditionally feminine. It's mesmerizing.
There are also zero nanny-state compromises to its styling in the name of safety - which is one of the reasons Jeremy Clarkson compared this car closely to the Jaguar E-Type, a car Enzo Ferrari considered the most beautiful car of all time. Yes, that's a lot of name dropping, but it's all in the name of illustrating that this car looks damn good. It isn't, however, a one-trick, all show pony, because...
Yes, I understand that the Mazda RX-8 also technically came with a 13B rotary engine, but let's not mince words, that engine was arguably a pile of crap from the start. It was plagued with recalls, overrated horsepower figures, abysmal fuel economy, and and the audacity of not having any sort of forced induction.
The 261 horsepower 13B-REW that came in the Mazda RX-7, however, was equipped with two sequential turbochargers, which gave such a dramatic power increase that you probably didn't mind that this 1.3 liter engine used fuel at the rate of a big block V8. Even in stock form, the car was quick because of its near 50/50 weight distribution, and helium-light body. The rev limiter stood at a piston shattering 8000-rpm, and although the engine did suffer from a few key reliability issues like apex seal failures and leaky fuel injector O-rings, any budding shade tree mechanic could rebuild the engine over the course of a weekend or two with inexpensive parts and help from the indispensable community. And while we're on the subject...
(Photo by BubbleTech.us)
There are car forums, and then there are car enthusiasm movements. The RX7 community is close-knit, for a few reasons: Their cars are unique and don't share many mechanical or body components with any other car, and the low production number of cars make it impossible to have a large community of owners. Forums such as NoPistons, RX7Forums and RX7Club take the guess work out of common issues and give much-need insight into what high-powered rotary ownership is really like.
The world of interconnected RX7 owners is so varied that it's essentially a microcosm of car enthusiasm in general, giving way for some exciting home-brew manufacturers like BubbleTech, to make high-quality products for this aging-yet-popular model of car, with huge events featuring the little rotary rocket.
(Photo by BubbleTech.us)
The scene that revolves around this car has been glamorized by drag racers, professional drifters, circuit racing teams, Mazda purists, and the Stance Nation. It's a platform that can accommodate nearly any taste, style, or modification preference that you can throw at it, with an end result that likely looks just as good, if not better than when you started. And that brings me to my final point...
While the RX7 was quick, it was no match for anything with anything with 8 cylinders and more torque than horsepower. Modification of the stock engine was indeed possible, and with the community putting out go-fast bits by the ton, a stupid fast RX7 was indeed an attainable goal. But what if you wanted an all-out, no nonsense speed machine? You could put a huge turbo on the 2-rotor engine, or simply swap in a modified 20B, 3 rotor engine in, like Rob Dahm did with one of his 2 RX7s:
Or you could just take out the rotary powerplant altogether and put in its place a Corvette LS engine, 2JZ-GTE from a Supra, RB26DETT from a Nissan Skyline, or pretty much whatever your power-obsessed monkey brain can think of.
The Mazda RX7 is the perfect car if you want to express yourself by automotive proxy. It's cheap, has an amazing look, has a die-hard cult following, and the sky is the limit with performance because it's a platform that allows for extensive modification on every level. It's almost the perfect car, and I'm glad to have owned one.
What are you waiting for? Find one and make it your own.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.