Mazda RX-7 FC: 2nd Gen Embracing the Thrill of the Rotary Engine

Mazda RX-7 FC

Table of Contents

The Mazda RX-7 FC is a legend whispered among car enthusiasts, a symbol of Japanese sports car ingenuity. Its sleek lines and pop-up headlights evoke an era of pure driving passion, while the whirring heart of its rotary engine promises a unique experience unlike anything else on the road. It cemented the RX-7’s legacy in the pantheon of JDM cars. Born to compete with the likes of the Porsche 944, the FC RX-7 became a pop culture icon, gracing the screens of “Initial D” and capturing the hearts of gearheads worldwide. If you crave a raw connection to the road and the thrill of an unconventional engine, this in-depth guide to the FC RX-7 will ignite your imagination.

For the 1st Generation Mazda RX-7, click here

For the 3rd Generation Mazda RX-7, click here 

 

Mazda RX-7 FC Overview

Mazda RX-7 FC

The Mazda RX-7 FC, representing the second generation of the RX-7 lineup, graced the roads from 1985 to 1992. Its design was instantly recognizable with its smooth, flowing lines and iconic pop-up headlights. It was Mazda’s direct answer to the Porsche 944, aiming to deliver similar thrills but with a unique Japanese twist. The FC RX-7 remains appealing today due to its timeless styling, engaging driving dynamics, and relative affordability in the used sports car market. However, it’s important to understand that this car comes with its own set of characteristics that set it apart from more conventional sports cars of the era.

 

Mazda RX-7 FC Variants

The Mazda RX-7 FC was offered in several flavors to cater to different driving preferences and budgets:

Base Model

The purest expression of the FC, this variant featured a naturally aspirated 13B rotary engine. Its focus was on lightweight agility and a high-revving driving experience.

GXL/GTU

Building upon the base model, these versions retained the naturally aspirated engine, but added luxurious amenities like upgraded seats, power windows, and other creature comforts.

Turbo II

This was the performance star of the lineup. Significant changes to the rotary engine, including a turbocharger, boosted power considerably, transforming the FC into a true sports car contender.

Convertible

For those who craved open-air motoring, Mazda offered a convertible variant of the FC RX-7. It featured a soft-top roof and often came equipped with the more luxurious appointments of the GXL trim.

FeatureBase ModelGXL/GTUTurbo IIConvertible
EngineNaturally Aspirated RotaryNaturally Aspirated RotaryTurbocharged RotaryNaturally Aspirated Rotary (often)
Displacement1.3 liters1.3 liters1.3 liters1.3 liters
Power~160 horsepower~160 horsepower~200 horsepower~160 horsepower
Torque~140 lb-ft~140 lb-ft~195 lb-ft~140 lb-ft
Performance (0-60 mph)~7.5 seconds~7.5 seconds~6.5 seconds~7.5 seconds
Performance (Top Speed)~135 mph~135 mph~150 mph~135 mph
Standard FeaturesLeather upholstery, sunroof, cruise controlMay include features from GXL/GTU trim

 

Exterior

Mazda RX-7 FC

The Mazda RX-7 FC’s design language was a clear departure from the sharper lines of its predecessor. Influenced by the Porsche 924/944, it adopted a sleek, rounded form that exudes a timeless elegance. The iconic pop-up headlights were a signature feature across all variants. Its compact size and flowing lines give the FC a nimble and athletic presence.

While the core design remained consistent, subtle differences set the variants apart. The base model maintained a clean, uncluttered look. The GXL/GTU trims often featured matching body-color side moldings and mirrors for a more refined appearance. The Turbo II could sometimes be distinguished by its larger hood bulge to accommodate the turbocharger and intercooler. Additionally, a variety of factory and aftermarket spoilers and body kits were available, allowing owners to personalize their RX-7 FC with a sportier or more aggressive aesthetic.

 

Interior

Mazda RX-7 FC Interior

The Mazda RX-7 FC’s interior places the driver front and center with a cockpit-like design. The gauges are large and easy to read, providing essential information at a glance. Supportive seats, even in the base model, offer a good balance of comfort and lateral support during spirited driving.

The overall design emphasizes clean lines and functionality. While the FC’s interior might feel less luxurious than its Porsche counterpart, materials are generally decent for its price point. However, like many sports cars, the rear seats are best considered occasional use only, as legroom is quite limited in the 2+2 configuration. On the positive side, the FC offers a reasonably spacious cargo area for a sports car, enhancing its practicality for weekend getaways.

Differences between trim levels primarily focus on comfort amenities. The GXL/GTU models often boast upgrades like leather upholstery, a sunroof, power windows, and cruise control.

 

Mazda RX-7 FC Engine

Mazda RX-7 FC Engine

The Mazda RX-7 FC’s defining feature is undoubtedly the 13B rotary engine. Unlike traditional engines with pistons, the rotary uses a triangular rotor spinning inside an oval-shaped housing. This design delivers smooth power, a thrilling high-revving nature, and a compact size that allows for optimal weight distribution.

Mazda offered two primary engine configurations in the FC RX-7:

Naturally Aspirated:

The base model and GXL/GTU came with a naturally aspirated 13B rotary. This engine delivers a pure driving experience, rewarding drivers who enjoy exploring the upper reaches of the rev range.

Turbocharged (Turbo II):

The Turbo II variant introduced forced induction with a turbocharger. This significantly boosted the power output, transforming the FC into a formidable sports car. The thrilling rush of the turbocharger, along with its unique, high-pitched exhaust note, adds another dimension of excitement to the RX-7 ownership experience.

Engine Specs:

SpecificationNaturally AspiratedTurbocharged
Engine type13B twin-rotor rotary13B twin-rotor rotary
Displacement1.3 liters1.3 liters
Power~160 horsepower~200 horsepower
Torque~140 lb-ft~195 lb-ft

While the rotary engine offers many advantages, they are known to require meticulous maintenance. Regular oil changes and an awareness of potential apex seal wear are crucial for rotary ownership.

Fo another car with this iconic type of engine, click here to read more about the Mazda RX-8.

 

Driving Experience

Mazda RX-7 FC

The Mazda RX-7 FC is a true driver’s car. Its magic lies in the way it connects with the person behind the wheel and rewards those willing to explore its capabilities.

Overall Feel

The FC boasts a near-perfect weight balance which translates to a nimble, agile, and remarkably communicative driving experience. The car feels light on its feet, eager to change direction, and provides an intimate connection to the road.

Acceleration

Naturally aspirated models deliver their power in a smooth and linear manner. There’s no sudden jolt of power; instead, the car encourages you to rev it out and delight in its free-revving nature. The Turbo II is a different beast. When the turbo spools up, it delivers a thrilling surge of power that transforms the FC into a true sports car contender.

Steering

The steering is precise and feels perfectly weighted, allowing for accurate placement on the road. It transmits road feel to the driver, providing crucial information about what the tires are doing.

Handling

The FC’s chassis is incredibly well-balanced. It inspires confidence through corners, feeling planted while offering a playful touch of adjustability when pushed to its limits.

Braking

Braking performance in the RX-7 FC is adequate for the era but might feel a bit underpowered by modern standards, especially on modified Turbo II cars with a considerable power increase.

The Rotary Character

The rotary engine’s high-revving nature demands a different driving style than typical piston engines. It rewards those willing to push towards the redline and delights with its unique, turbine-like exhaust note.

Maintenance Considerations

It’s crucial to remember that the rotary engine requires more meticulous maintenance than traditional engines. Regular oil changes, monitoring oil consumption, and being aware of potential wear on apex seals are essential for prolonging the life of this unconventional powerplant.

 

Driver Aids and Safety Features

Mazda RX-7 FC

The Mazda RX-7 FC reflects the automotive technology of its era. Compared to modern cars, it offers a limited range of driver aids and safety features.

Standard features often included:

  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS): This system prevents the wheels from locking up under hard braking, helping to maintain steering control.

 

Features that were absent in the FC include:

  • Airbags: These were not yet widespread during the FC’s production run.
  • Electronic Stability Control: This technology, designed to prevent skidding wasn’t found in sports cars of this era.

 

It’s important for potential buyers to be aware of the car’s age and the safety limitations that come with it. Driving an RX-7 FC demands a higher degree of driver alertness and skill in comparison to modern vehicles.

 

Should you buy a Mazda RX-7 FC?

Mazda RX-7 FC

The Mazda RX-7 FC is a captivating sports car, but it’s important to go into ownership with realistic expectations. This car is best suited for:

  • Enthusiasts: Those passionate about cars, particularly the unique character of rotary engines, will find the RX-7 FC incredibly rewarding.
  • Mechanically inclined: Rotary engines require a greater degree of maintenance and knowledge. Being comfortable with DIY work or having a trusted rotary mechanic is important.
  • Those seeking a raw driving experience: The RX-7 FC offers a pure, unfiltered driving experience that’s increasingly rare in modern cars.

 

The RX-7 FC might not be the ideal choice for:

  • Daily commuting: While possible, the higher maintenance needs and potential for less-than-stellar fuel economy in the rotary engine might not be ideal for everyday driving.
  • Prioritizing practicality: Limited rear seats and cargo space make it less practical than other sports cars.

 

Price Summary

CategoryApproximate Price Range
Original MSRP – Base Model~ $18,000
Original MSRP – Turbo II~ $25,000
Current – Project Cars$5,000 – $15,000
Current – Decent Runners$15,000 – $25,000
Current – Excellent/Modified$25,000 +

Important Note: Before purchasing an FC RX-7, a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a rotary specialist is highly recommended.

 

Conclusion

The Mazda RX-7 FC stands as a testament to Mazda’s bold engineering and commitment to the pursuit of pure driving enjoyment. Its sleek design, balanced handling, and the unique thrill of the rotary engine have solidified its place in automotive history. While ownership demands a greater degree of care and understanding than a conventional sports car, the rewards are undeniable. The FC RX-7 remains a compelling choice for enthusiasts seeking a visceral driving experience and a piece of Japanese sports car heritage.

 

Mazda RX-7 FC Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

 

FAQ

The rotary engine requires more meticulous maintenance than traditional piston engines. Reliability depends heavily on how the car has been cared for and whether modifications have been done correctly. It’s essential to have a pre-purchase inspection done by a rotary expert.

Prices for Mazda RX-7 FCs vary greatly depending on condition, mileage, and modifications. As a general guide, expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 for a project car to upwards of $30,000+ for pristine or highly modified examples.

With its balanced chassis, communicative steering, and rear-wheel drive layout, the RX-7 FC has excellent potential as a drift car. Many enthusiasts enjoy them for this purpose.

 

If this car has caught your fancy and you would like to look at a few more JDM classics, click on one of the following links

 

For a more comprehensive look at Japanese car brands, click here.

Written by: Jino SK

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