I recently had a chance to drive the single most beautiful car ever manufactured: the FD Mazda RX-7. No, this does not mean I drove a fire department Mazda RX-7. "FD" is the code name for the RX-7 sold here in the United States from 1993 to 1995 — God only knows why this was the code name, except that the prior models were "FB" and "FC" — but that hardly matters. What matters is that I drove it. Or, more excitingly, that I was in its mere presence. See the 1994 Mazda RX-7 models for sale near you
I say this because I truly love the look of the 1990s Mazda RX-7 — and every time I see one on the street, which is virtually never, I become all giddy. Or, at least, I become giddy when I see one that hasn’t been completely modified to the point where the front bumper is removed and the wheels are replaced with giant, stupid aftermarket ones plastidipped in green. When it comes to appearances, a nice stock FD RX-7 is one of my all-time favorite cars to look at.
And, fortunately, that’s exactly what I drove. This opportunity came courtesy of LBI Limited, a local exotic car dealership here in Philadelphia that always seems to have the coolest stuff in their inventory — the Ferrari F40 I reviewed a few months ago, for example. This time, the cool car they had was a 1994 Mazda RX-7 R2, the "R2" model being the sporty version of the RX-7. It was completely untouched, unmodified and unaltered; a completely original example with 30-some thousand miles on the odometer.
They’re asking $50,000 for this particular RX-7 — which, it may surprise you to learn, is not out of the RX-7 realm. This is probably the nicest one on the market today, and other, slightly-less-nice RX-7s are asking in the $30,000 to low-$40,000 range on Autotrader. The days of finding a $10,000 used RX-7 that you can modify are over — likely because so many people modified $10,000 used RX-7s.
So I pawed around the RX-7 for a few minutes, and I checked out all the quirks, which are demonstrated in the video above. My favorite quirk was the automatic roll-down window: A lot of cars have automatic windows, of course, but the RX-7’s window switch actually stays in the down position while the window is rolling down, and then pops back up when the window has finished going down. I also loved the quirky storage situation, namely that the RX-7 has two "rear" gloveboxes, one behind each seat, but only the one behind the passenger seat is capable of locking.
Then I got behind the wheel. This, interestingly, was not an easy task; I’m fairly tall, at six-foot-four, but I’ve never really had trouble fitting in most of the cars I review. In fact, usually — through some combination of seat adjustment and steering wheel repositioning — I can get inside just fine. But not this time: I found the RX-7’s cabin among the tightest of any modern car I’ve been inside.
Next, it came time to take it out on the road, and I was curious what I’d find. The RX-7 was never the fastest of the 1990s Japanese sports cars; it offered only 250 horsepower through its turbocharged rotary engine. But it was the lightest: While the Nissan 300ZX was something like 3,400 pounds, and the Mitsubishi 3000GT weighed in with approximately the same overall mass as a suburban office park, the RX-7 was just about 2,800 pounds — an impressive figure for a car intending to compete with the "big dogs" of the 1990s sports car world.
And, indeed, it competes well. On the road, the RX-7 offers sharp handling and an exciting driving experience, delivering excellent road feel and a low seating position that makes you feel like you’re really in a sports car — not like you’re removed from the road, which was the case with some of its rivals. It’s worth noting, however, that I wouldn’t exactly call the RX-7 fast by modern standards: it’s relatively quick — and, despite being a "twin turbo," the turbo spools up in the old-school way, where it takes a second to come on strong — but it doesn’t exactly throw you back in your seat. Virtually all modern sports cars are faster than the RX-7, and so are some not-so-sports cars; the 0-to-60 time was something like 5 seconds.
But, to me, the RX-7 was never about performance. This was a special car, delivered at a special time and offered in the U.S. for only a couple of years. It had some cool features, yes; it had some decent performance, sure; but the impressive bit was the car, taken as a whole: Beautiful, clean lines; ultra-low production numbers; lightweight, especially compared to rivals; and powered by that bizarre rotary engine. It’s something that would never be made today; it’s something I’m surprised was even made back then. Consider all these things, and it’s no surprise this RX-7 is $50,000 — and I suspect it’ll be a lot more in the not-so-distant future. Find a 1994 Mazda RX-7 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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