R&T continue with another interesting Extended-use report, curiously of another Japanese coupe (see previous post).
From 1980 July issue, this time it’s the very interesting RX-7. Yes, it’s just one page, but I thought worth sharing with you:
It’s hard to believe these were/ are considered to be sporty cars, at least from a styling standpoint. Compared to newer cars they would seem to be just sporty “clothes” on a not entirely pedestrian small sedan.
And yet, from such humble beginnings (in the U.S. market) look at any Mazda car today…..sporty is “baked in” at the factory, so to speak.
Have you driven one? They are fantastically sporty. While some the specs were a little hum-drum (lack of rack and pinion steering and a live rear axle) they were more than the sum of their parts. Very lively handling, decent performance for the day and a low seating potion that feels sporty (unlike say a high seating position Mustang for example). The 81-85 had better rear end styling but I’d rank the looks as much better than most of its competitors.
While I do think there’s a certain clunkiness to the styling(really just the rear) they’re definitely sporty looking, just compare with a Porsche 924. They’re unquestionably sports cars under the clothes as well.
I forgot about the original rear end treatment these had with the small taillights and deeply recessed area between with the plate, the 81 update really cleaned up the styling on them.
A good friend used to have an early RX-7 when we were in our early 20’s, a hand-me-down from his mother. It was vastly more exciting than the Cavaliers, Neons, and Accords the rest of us had. I fixed a few things on it for him and was always impressed with how well it was out together, especially the interior. Let’s just say it put any American car from the ’80’s or ’90’s to shame in terms of materials and build quality. His was generally reliable and although he sold it 12 years ago I’m pretty sure I still see it around our home town occasionally.
It was fun to drive and sat extremely low. Felt like you were looking up to the running boards on big SUVs. The engine wasn’t powerful but if you rev it out like you’re supposed to it will provide a few thrills.
As for the comment about it not being a sports car…huh?
Love these. Especially the wheels, they are same exact ones (13″) that were on my ’79 Mazda 626. Having driven a few early RX’7’s, the power is so smooth and the engine so turbine-like. Nothing else like it. Lots of fun.
If you ever get a chance to look under the hood of a well maintained and garaged low mileage example, note the care and precision put into every part of the engine room. Attention to detail with finely finished cadmium plated small pieces and brackets, no rough edges or poorly painted surfaces, and every part fitted exactly and in place. Like opening up the back of a fine watch and looking at the windings. And this was 35 years ago, on a relatively cheap car of the day. Mazda really raised the production quality bar on these. Unfortunately, lots of electronic subsystems, diaphragms and solenoids, and a fair amount of plastic parts, means that these do not age quite as well as older cars (such as an early 240Z), but the manufacturing and assembly processes were world class in their day.
True of the Miata, both built to an engineering standard and not a price a la Merc 123 series…
“They dont make cars like this any more!”.
Definitely a sports car the styling could no be mistaken for anything else, ok they share a lot of underpinnings with the 323 & 808 model but the RX3 which was a rotary 808 coupe was a very successful car in rallying so the sportyness of the chassis is well proven, The only thing that really gave these problems was the fuel consumption yeah its ok if you drive it sensibly but honestly who the hell does that and when these were new gas out here was 5-6 bux a gallon so rotaries didnt sell particularly well.
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