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Evolution Of The Mazda RX-7: 1978–2002

The Mazda RX-7 FD's outstanding handling capabilities have earned it worldwide acclaim and cemented its status as an icon in the automotive world.

Evolution Of The Mazda RX-7: 1978–2002

The Mazda RX-7 is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car that was manufactured by Mazda from 1978 until 2002 across three generations. The RX-7 was known for its unconventional rotary engine, which set it apart from other sports cars of its time.

First generation (SA22C, FB)

The first-generation Mazda RX-7 was launched in 1978 and was powered by a compact and lightweight Wankel rotary engine. It quickly gained popularity and was considered a game-changer in the sports car industry. Over the years, the RX-7 underwent various changes and updates in its design and performance.

Evolution Of The Mazda RX-7 (Animation)

Second generation (FC3S and FC3C)

In 1986, Mazda introduced the second-generation RX-7, often referred to as the FC model. It featured a more modern and aerodynamic design compared to its predecessor and came with additional improvements in performance and handling.

Third generation (FD3S)

The third-generation RX-7, also known as the FD model, made its debut in 1992 and remained in production until 2002. It was equipped with an even more powerful rotary engine and featured a sleek and stylish exterior design. The FD RX-7 is considered a classic and has a dedicated fan base to this day.

Reviews and Awards

The RX-7 FD was globally recognized for its exceptional handling prowess, upholding its reputation as one of the most finely balanced and agile vehicles ever crafted.

The RX-7 garnered consistent acclaim, earning a spot on Car and Driver magazine's prestigious Ten Best lists on five occasions (1983, 1987, 1993-1995).

In 2004, Sports Car International bestowed the Series 3 model with the seventh rank among their Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. A pivotal moment arrived in 1983 when the RX-7 secured its debut appearance on Car and Driver magazine's revered Ten Best lists, marking a return after two decades.

Despite being approximately 363 kg (800 lb) weightier and featuring enhanced insulation compared to its forerunner, the FC model continued to amass praise from critics. The RX-7 FC earned the title of Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1986, while the Turbo II variant earned a second spot on Car and Driver magazine's 10 Best list in 1987.

The FD RX-7 achieved the honor of being named Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year. In an intriguing comparison, Playboy magazine evaluated the FD RX-7 alongside the then-new Dodge Viper in 1993, ultimately declaring the RX-7 as the superior of the two. This distinction culminated in the RX-7 being crowned Playboy's Car of the Year in 1993.

Notably, the FD RX-7's prowess also secured a spot on Car and Driver's esteemed Ten Best lists for the consecutive years of 1993 through 1995, encompassing its entire presence in the United States market. In a proclamation made in June 2007, Road & Track magazine emphasized Mazda's trump card: the RX-7, a vehicle once hailed as the epitome of purity and exhilaration in the realm of sports cars. Following its debut in 1991, the FD RX-7 earned the prestigious Automotive Researchers' and Journalists' Conference Car of the Year accolade in Japan.


Throughout its history, the Mazda RX-7 solidified its reputation as a performance-oriented sports car thanks to its lightweight construction, agile handling, and unique rotary engine technology. It made a significant impact on the sports car market and left a lasting legacy. Even today, it continues to be revered for its exceptional cornering prowess and driving enjoyment.

RELATED: Mazda Evolution: 1920-Present

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