Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen Editor
4/14/22 11:45 a.m.

Mazda may have the most popular brand in sports car competition these days, but 30 years ago things were quite different. No one had yet envisioned the Miata, and the company’s rotary engine needed some serious PR help. After all, it had already earned a reputation for being a somewhat unreliable gas-guzzler. 

The new-for-1979 Mazda RX-7 reversed the company’s fortunes. …

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dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
4/14/22 12:01 p.m.

I've had mine 16 years now, still having fun..

AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/14/22 1:26 p.m.

I love watching and hearing the sound of these guys at Rallycross. I have no idea how their times are, but they always look like they are having an awesome day. Makes me want a first gen RX-7

infernosg
infernosg Reader
4/14/22 1:38 p.m.

44 years young this past March

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/14/22 4:23 p.m.

I have an '83 GSL that I bought 3.5 years ago at 43K and it now has 49K.

Bone stock, original engine, everything works fine except that the retractable antenna just started to go, zero rust California car, always garaged, original paint that looks great, and all it has needed is a new alternator and battery.

The only down side is that it's an automatic but it satisfies my rotary lust (I put 287K on a FC 5-speed and 244K on a FE 6-speed).  Basically, my job is to enjoy it (if a rotary goes brap-brap but nobody appreciates it, did it really make a sound)...protect it (537K miles of rotary experience so I'm starting to get the hang of it), and only hand ownership over to someone that's capable and committed to caring for it.  

It's hard to estimate its current value as about 85% of BaT sales, etc. are manuals but I got it at a decent price and they've been steadily going up in value so it's all good.

I really want an '84 or '85 GSL-SE 5-speed that hasn't been modified or used up.

The easy button would be to do a car + cash trade with someone that needs to get out of a manual (hip replacement, new squeeze that doesn't want to learn stick, etc.)

The trouble for me is that my engine is in absolutely fantastic shape so the deal really is car + cash + near 100% chance that I'm getting a worse engine.

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/14/22 4:50 p.m.

In reply to dannyp84 :

I've had mine for about as long. I don't find it as fun to drive now, but that's because traffic is worse.

Like most old cars, its unsophistication makes it a breeze to work on.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/22 5:58 p.m.

Have had at least one in my life since 1998.  Currently have two, one as stock as could reasonably be found in 2016 (has a header and coils, but it still has a Nikki fed stock port 12A. And air conditioning) and the other one braps, is fed by Megasquirt, has an FC front suspension and a Ford 9" attached with a tri-link.

 

The nearly stock one is much more fun to drive in a "not dreading it" sense.  The far from stock one is very fun when on a rallycross course... and I am about 12 years older than when I first did the major conversion, which is why I got the other one to enjoy on the street.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/22 6:06 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

and the other one braps.

I use to cut the mufflers off (that usually were rusted out) and I would put duel Anza Exhaust tips on them. It sounded like a British sports car from the 50s/60's when you were just putting it around.  Then after about 3K it went into car alarm setting off eardrum melting mode.  They were tons of fun.  An underground parking garage was the best.  :-)

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/22 6:08 p.m.
dean1484 said:
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

and the other one braps.

I use to cut the mufflers off (that usually were rusted out) and I would put duel Anza Exhaust tips on them. It sounded like a British sports car from the 50s/60's when you were just putting it around.  Then after about 3K it went into car alarm setting off eardrum melting mode.  They were tons of fun.  An underground parking garage was the best.  :-)

But that won't make it brap smiley  Brap is the staccato 6 hit / 6 miss palm muted powerchord beat of an idle that heavily ported rotaries get.

 

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Dork
4/14/22 11:04 p.m.

Hey I recognize that car.   I should really get it back on the road.

sevenracer
sevenracer Reader
4/15/22 12:47 p.m.

Well, I got my 82 rx7 in ahem ...1988. Served me well in high school and through college. It did a brief stint as a track day car in 2004 or so. Got shelved for a good long while, and is now starting its next chapter with a T2 swap.

From way back when with snazzy 80's striping...

Current State...

jgrewe
jgrewe HalfDork
4/15/22 4:36 p.m.

In reply to j_tso :

I used to have  a Rex with that exact color and rims.  Just curious if yours has carbon fiber door panels and speaker mounts in the rear?  The only thing I can see that is different is that I had shaved the side marker lights off mine. Any history of your car being in Florida?

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/16/22 12:17 p.m.

In reply to jgrewe :

that's a different car. The blue got sprayed on mine in 2015, it used to be dark grey.

jerel77494
jerel77494 New Reader
6/8/22 12:45 p.m.

I owned a 1980 model with the 12a. I really enjoyed the car. Had a few quirks.  The steering had a dead spot in the center from slack.  The adjustment I found didn't work,  It only adjusted the preload on the steering arm. The brakes were weak. I couldn't lock the brakes at anything over 45 mph on the factory tires.  I know locking the brakes increases braking distance but it also means you're able to use all the available grip. Weak brakes were a common problem on early Mazda's; The RX-3's that ran in the IMSA Radial Sedan series lobbied for bigger brakes.  They had problems with brake fade. And that motor hated alcohol blended fuels.  There was a noticeable decrease in low end power.  Last but not least, the rear suspension would bind at the limit, resulting in snap oversteer.  I heard the cure was to lower the pickup points on the lower control arms where they attached to the chassis by 1/2".  When the car first came out, Mazda had a TV ad of the car driving down a winding mountain road with some real pace. They crashed 3 of them trying to film the ad before they hired Rod Millen to drive for them.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/8/22 12:54 p.m.

In reply to jerel77494 :

Lowering the suspension mounting points (like the '84-85 had) makes the snap understeer worse, not better.  Mazda did that to induce some roll understeer (axle steers against the turn when it articulates with lean) to make the handling less nervous, with the side effect that it made the binding worse. 

The binding is because the 4 link and the Watts link describe different roll center heights.  The Watts roll center is 40mm above axle centerline, the 4 link's inherent roll center is somewhere around the roof.  When the suspension articulates to a certain point, the bushings cannot squish anymore to accommodate this discrepancy, and the axle just sort of stops moving. Snap oversteer because the effective wheel rate goes sky high.

Really the best fix for the snap oversteer is to use the 18mm rear sway bar from a '79-80 to keep the suspension out of that articulation range, and stiffer front springs to balance the handling.

Between the smaller 15mm rear bar and the lower rear link mounts, this is why '84-85 are the most prone to ripping the upper mounts off of the chassis.  They have the highest amount of discrepancy so the highest stress on the tub.

Winfield Schmitt
Winfield Schmitt New Reader
6/8/22 9:41 p.m.

My’79 I autox’d in New England and then in FL until about 1994. Stock 12A with a header and a pair of side draft Mikuni carbs.

my '79 I autocrossed until '94 in New England and FL region SCCA. I used the early big rear sway bar with the biggest aftermarket front bar I could get. Won me many trophies.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/9/22 7:25 a.m.
sevenracer said:

Well, I got my 82 rx7 in ahem ...1988. Served me well in high school and through college. It did a brief stint as a track day car in 2004 or so. Got shelved for a good long while, and is now starting its next chapter with a T2 swap.

From way back when with snazzy 80's striping...

Current State...

That is a great color!!!!

Loved my time with all mine, but crazy market sent it to a new owner. 

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 PowerDork
6/9/22 11:19 a.m.

44 years old as of last month. 

 

jerel77494
jerel77494 New Reader
6/28/22 9:23 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Thanks for the info!  I was rereading the article and it said $7000 when they first came out?  That may have been the msrp, but I remember dealers demanding, and getting, north of $11k. And there was a waiting list at that price.

If you want to really hear some rotary noise, there's a YouTube clip of their Group C car on the dyno.  It sounds like the engine isn't going to stop revving!

hobiercr
hobiercr GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/28/22 1:45 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/28/22 10:43 p.m.
jerel77494 said:

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Thanks for the info!  I was rereading the article and it said $7000 when they first came out?  That may have been the msrp, but I remember dealers demanding, and getting, north of $11k. And there was a waiting list at that price.

If you want to really hear some rotary noise, there's a YouTube clip of their Group C car on the dyno.  It sounds like the engine isn't going to stop revving!

 

More down to earth, a deturboed Turbo II engine that made 170hp at the wheels with a 12A exhaust system.

 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
7/29/22 6:10 p.m.

Hot damn I love these!

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