July 16, 2015 @ 07:17 PM

Legends and Legacies: Mazda RX-7

Initial D fans sit up and read this article as we get ourselves reacquainted with the Mazda RX-7.

Initial D fans sit up and read this article as we get ourselves reacquainted with the Mazda RX-7. 

In Japan, they know it as the Mazda Savanna but in every other part of the world we know it as the Mazda RX-7. And then there is the Initial D loving community that knows it as the car the chassis number the FC and FD.
By the time the RX-7 started making its way into the people’s hearts in 1978 Mazda had retired almost all models that came with a rotary engine except for the Cosmo so most might see the RX-7 as the replacement for the Savanna RX-3 but in reality the RX-7 is the replacement of all models that used to come with a rotary engine thanks to the unique twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine under the bonnet. 

The second generation RX-7 is where the model really took off. More commonly known as the FC, the second generation RX-7 is the most popular and the most sought after model out of three generations. It was an instant hit in the international markets and the first RX-7 to feature an optional turbocharged engine. While the first generation resembles the Lotus Elan, the FC’s design bares more resemblance to the Porsche 944.

Originally penned by Mazda’s lead designer Matasaburo Maeda, the RX-7 was a true sports coupe rather than just a coupe with sporting intentions like the many continental coupe cars of that generation. The engine was situated slightly behind the front axle making the car a front-mid engine layout that sends powers to the rear wheels. It was mostly sold as a two seater coupe but in some markets like Australia and Japan itself, two rear seats were offered as an option.
Starting its run in 1986 the FC is also famed for the engine that Mazda has fitted into the car. While powerful (146bhp), the naturally aspirated fuel-injected 13B-VDEI in the Series 4 still allows the Japan market to avoid taxes as it is below the tax regulations set by the government. The turbo engine, however, produces 182bhp bringing the car under scrutiny of the government.

Mazda introduced the Series 5 three years after the Series 4 in 1989 with a newly tuned engine with lighter rotors and a higher compression ratio. This allowed the naturally aspirated variant to produce 160bhp while the turbocharged 1.3-litre produced over 200bhp!
Steering in the FC is said to be much improved from its previous generation as Mazda has sent their RX-7 leaning towards the sports-tourer trends. This cured understeer that plagued the first generation RX-7s while the standard four disc brakes added even more weight to the car. But even though it was heavier than its predecessor the FC still won the award for delightful driving. 

Thanks to its popularity, the FC is also the first generation that comes in various different forms. In 1987 Mazda started tinkering away at the drawing boards to create a convertible version that further improved the success of the FC. In Australia, the company also started selling variants with no power-steering or power windows as an effort to reduce weight to allow the car to go faster. 

Mazda introduced the third generation RX-7 (technically known as the FD) in 1991 to replace the FC. The FD was radically different from the previous two generation and instead of taking design cues and inspirations from continental machines, the FD came with a futuristic twist to mark its 11 year lifespan. 

Jerrica Leong

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