Video: Mazda RX-7 celebrates its 40th birthday

When the fuel crisis hit during the 1970s, drivers began moving away from the big, gas-guzzling V8’s that dominated the roadways. In response to the challenging environment, Mazda set out to create a new performance vehicle – one that would be smaller, lighter, more efficient and – most important of all – fun to drive. In 1978 Mazda premiered the RX-7, which played a vital role in establishing Mazda’s reputation for building celebrated driver’s cars.

Mazda FD3S RX-7 | Empire Garage photos

More than 470,000 driving enthusiasts bought the original RX-7 ‘FB.’ It came powered by a rotary engine that featured a compact design which allowed it to be placed lower and further back in the car. As a result, the RX-7 was well balanced and set new standards for power, performance, and handling.

In 1985 the second generation ‘FC’ model was introduced with turbo power and the third generation ‘FD’ followed in 1992 until production of the iconic RX-7 ended in 2002. By the time production concluded Mazda had produced some 800,000 RX-7 cars.

It even made it onto Car and Driver magazines’ annual “Ten Best” list five times. Additionally, the RX-7’s racing success further cemented its position as a one of the world’s best performance cars.

Some of its highlights include overall victory in the 1981 Spa 24 hours, it took part in the awe-inspiring world of Group B rallying and claimed the 1980 and 1981 BTCC titles, and the RX-7 took an unmatched 100 wins in 12 years of IMSA competition and won the GTU class at the 1979 Daytona 24 hours.

Mazda RX-7 Spa 1981 | Mazda photo

Win Percy, the British racing driver who took both the RX-7s BTCC championships, was blown away by the speed of the Mazda RX-7, “ it was a very capable little car ‑ you really could call it a giant killer.”

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Mazda RX-7, Mazda brought together all three generations of the car in a film that documents the evolution of the most successful model to be powered by a rotary engine:

Today, the spirit of the RX-7 still resonates in Mazda’s stylish and great-to-drive SkyActiv model line-up, while classic RX-7s continue to thrill owners and fans the world over. Happy Birthday Mazda RX-7.

About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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