Budget Revolutions – 1984 Mazda RX7

Inspired by a recent article in Hemming’s Sports & Exotic Car about fun budget cars (who would ever think I’d be interested in that??), I went on the hunt for a first-generation Mazda RX7, and along the way turned up the 626 convertible. I’ve had various brushes with these, including a neighbor who owned one when I was about 10, and a current neighbor who’s got what appears to be a 1985-model car, possibly a GSL. Sadly, that car’s been sitting in the garage spot next to one of mine since 1998… very straight body, but apparently the engine is dead. It appears a likely cause is carbon lock on the rotor tips, and I’m sure that adds to a pretty long list just from sitting for so long.

But I’ll stop rambling, and you’ll see why I haven’t tried to rescue that car – compared to some of its contemporaries, there are plenty of these available, and they’re a pretty good bargain on a roughly 30-year-old car with some cool technology and attractive styling. Top of the market seems to be about $5000 for a spotless driver, but you can do pretty well for less. Take a look here in Brookings, OR on the Oregon coast, where our feature car is for sale for $3000. If the seller’s claims are to be believed, he’s only the second owner and the car only has 80,000 miles on it! Even better, it’s got all its records & receipts, and has had recent major maintenance.

1984 Mazda RX7 front right

As you can see, the car looks pretty clean. I’d almost want to ask if the seller knows why the miles are so low, as many of these were used as daily drivers. I’d guess the main reason for a seemingly low price (when compared to other cars on the market) is the less-desirable, but oh-so-period, off-white paint. And you haven’t seen the lovely brown interior yet.

1984 Mazda RX7 right rear

More of the exterior, and still no body damage, not even rust. I’d bet there are some parking lot dings, etc., but that’s to be expected on a car of this age and price. What little you can see of panel gaps even looks decent.

1984 Mazda RX7 interior

Mmm, this color makes me want my afternoon break. What do you suppose this color was called? Cafe-au-Lait? Mocha? Cappuccino? Whatever it is, it looks pretty spill-proof if you take your coffee with milk. Notice the large-ish cooler in the back, unintentionally demonstrating that this is a handy GT car.

1984 Mazda RX7 left front

And finallly, the left front. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the engine, although you have to admit most rotaries are not a pretty sight from the outside. Which brings us to the main attraction – the Hemmings write-up emphasized how revvy and smooth the engine was, and I do like to give a small sports car some stick. How are these to drive compared to, say, an aluminum twincam four? My experience with most Japanese cars is stereotypical – they lack that intangible something that many European, and even American, cars have. Tell me different.


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One Response to “Budget Revolutions – 1984 Mazda RX7”

  1. shaun Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I had the use of one of these for six months or so back in the late 80s, and remember it to have been great fun. The engine like to rev, the transmission ratios were well thought out and fun to use, and it was fun to drive in the twisties.

    I was contemplating one a couple of years ago, but heard that they can be devilishly hard to get past CA smog checks. I ended up going another route and didn’t investigate further, but you may want to check this aspect with your local vintage rotary experts.


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