Crunched Curbside Classic: Gen1, Series 1 Mazda RX-7 With Flat Tire And Body Damage

I have not seen a gen1 RX-7 in some time, and that applies particularly to a Series 1 version (SA22C), from 1978-1980. So I was rather surprised when I saw this one’s distinctive shape form down the block and across the street. I walked over to take some shots, and noticed that it was wounded: a flat tire off the rim and some front end damage. I can’t be certain if the two are connected; maybe not, but possibly so. In any case, it was a sad moment to this car in pain, especially since the rest of it was in such great condition.

Here’s how it looked from across the street. I did notice the bumper was askew. And it even has its original alloys. It’s a dead ringer for the one a good friend had for quite some years in LA, a car I rode in numerous times and drove a couple of times. Sweet memories…

The Series 1 had the original 12A (1146cc) twin-rotor engine, with all of 100 hp. It needed revs and a lot of rowing of the slick 5-speed gearbox to generate genuine sporty performance. Not surprisingly, he had to have it overhauled at least once, possibly twice. Such was life with the early Mazda rotaries. But other than that, it was very reliable.

The cabin was cozy but comfortable. The ride was on the brittle side, as it was sprung quite stiffly. Lots of fun to run up Topanaga Canyon, but not so much on the daily commute on LA’s freeways. The manual steering was light if not brilliant, and its 50/50 weight distribution made it eminently tossable. With its 626 sedan-based live rear axle and front suspension, it wasn’t as sophisticated as the Miata would be, but it was fun.

This RX-7 is sharing this section of the block with another vehicle of similar vintage, but they couldn’t be further apart in their dynamics. Polar opposites attract.

I sure hope this one gets back on its feet asap, and hopefully its front end body damage fixed too.

What a classic shape.

My full CC on the gen 1 RX-7 is here