Japanese automaker Mazda
has been consistently advocating the wonders of the Wankel rotary engine
for decades, and no car shows it quite like Mazda's RX-7 sports car
. First introduced in 1978
, the rear wheel drive
RX-7 and the rotary engine
have been proven as reliable alternatives to the standard piston engine
The original, first-generation SA22 was an instant hit in all the markets it was exported to (particularly Australia and North America), thanks to its dashing good looks, performance and affordability. Its seemingly tiny 1.1-liter 12A twin-rotor engine output a good 101 horsepower at 6000 rpm, went from zero to 110 km/h (68.3 mph) in a respectable 11.4 seconds, and had a reported top speed of 111 mph. It only cost about $15,000 when it was first released -- performing better and costing less than its main competitors, the Datsun 280ZX, Porsche 924 and Alfa Romeo GTV.
The second generation RX-7, the FCRX-7 (known simply as the Savanna FC in Japan), was introduced in 1986. The FC looked somewhat similar to the FB before it, but the mechanical side of it was improved greatly. The new, 1.3-liter 13B twin-rotor engine output about 135 horsepower, and a single turbocharger model called the Turbo II generated 180. In 1988, a few improvements increased horsepower to 160 hp in the base model and to 200 in the Turbo II.
The third and seemingly last generation, FDRX-7, appeared in Japan in 1991 and in North America in 1993. Compared to the angular, sharp lines of the FB and FC, the "Infini FD" was a fluid river of muscle. The 13B engine was still used, only now in the form of the 13B-REW -- a twin turbo monster outputting 265 horsepower, upgraded to 276 later (in Japan only, 276 being the voluntary horsepower limit; supposedly, North American RX-7s get more hp), thanks to improvements in the cooling and exhaust systems. There are several grades of FDRX-7 -- RB, R, RS, and RZ --of which only basic items (such as brakes, aerodynamics and suspension) are changed. A special limited edition FD, the Spirit R, uses special Recaro lightweight racing seats, a unique body color special to the Spirit R, and a vastly improved brake system.
In the movie The Fast in the Furious, Vin Diesel's character initially drives a red (?) FDRX-7.