Mazda RX-7 1st gen FB series2
Series 2 (1981-1983) had smoothly integrated plastic-covered bumpers, wide black rubber body side moldings, wraparound taillights and updated engine control components. The GSL package provided optional 4-wheel disc brakes and clutch-type rear limited slip differential (LSD). Known as the "FB" in North America after the US Department of Transportation mandated 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number changeover. Elsewhere in the world, the 1981-1985 RX-7 is technically still an 'SA22C' among enthusiasts. The license-plate surround looks much like Buhrer's "Styling Impressions
Mazda RX-7 1st gen FB series3
Series 3 (1984-1985) featured an updated lower front fascia and different instrument cluster (the S3 RX-7 is the only rotary-engined car to not have a centrally mounted tachometer). GSL package was continued into this series, but Mazda introduced the GSL-SE sub-model. The GSL-SE had a fuel injected 1.3 L 13B RE-EGI engine producing 135 hp (101 kW) and 135 lb-ft. GSL-SEs had much the same options as the GSL (clutch-type rear LSD and rear disc brakes), but the brake rotors were larger, allowing Mazda to use the more common lug nuts (versus bolts), and a new bolt pattern of 4x114.3 (4x4.5"). Also, they had upgraded suspension with stiffer springs and shocks, and a new, heavy duty oil cooler.
Mazda RX-7 1st gen
The 1984 RX-7 G has an estimated 29 highway miles per gallon (12.33 kilometres per litre) /19 estimated city miles per gallon (8.08 km/l). According to Mazda, its rotary engine, licensed by NSU-Wankel allowed the RX-7 G to accelerate from 0 to 50 (80 km/h) in 6.3 seconds. Kelley Blue Book, in its January-February 1984 issue, noted that a 1981 RX-7 G retained 93.4% of its original sticker price.
The handling and acceleration of the car were noted to be of a high caliber for its day. This generation RX-7 had "live axle" 4-link rear suspension with Watt's linkage, a 50/50 weight ratio, and weighed under 2600 lb (1180 kg). It was the lightest generation of RX-7 ever produced. 12A-powered models accelerated from 0-60 mph in 9.2 s, and turned 0.779 lateral Gs on a skidpad. The 12A engine produced 100 hp (75 kW) at 6000 rpm, allowing the car to reach speeds of over 120 mph (190 km/h). Because of the smoothness inherent in the Wankel rotary engine, little vibration or harshness was experienced at high rpm, so a buzzer was fitted to the tachometer to warn the driver when the 7000 rpm redline was approaching.
The 12A engine has a long thin shaped combustion chamber, there is a large surface area in relation to its volume. So combustion is cool, giving few oxides of nitrogen. However, the combustion is also incomplete, so there are large amounts of partly burned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The exhaust is hot enough for combustion of these to continue into the exhaust. An engine driven pump supplies air into the exhaust to complete the burn of these chemicals. This is done in the "thermal reactor", chamber where the exhaust manifold would normally be on a conventional engine. Under certain conditions the pump injects air into the thermal reactor and at other times air is pumped through injectors into the exhaust ports. This fresh air is needed for more efficient and cleaner burning of the air/fuel mixture.
This system is extremely conducive to creating backfires because the combustion continues down the exhaust system. Further modification of the engine can yield even more impressive backfires. For example, adding a header system or disconnecting the air pump allows the unburnt fuels to build up therefore strengthening the backfires. It is not uncommon to witness unmodified RX-7's produce flaming backfires from the exhaust tips.
Options and models varied from country to country. The gauge layout and interior styling in the Series 3 was only changed for North American versions. Additionally, North America was the only market to have offered the first generation RX-7 with the fuel injected 13B. A turbocharged (but non-intercooled) 12A engine was available for the top-end model of Series 3 in Japan.
Sales were strong, with a total of 474,565 first generation cars produced; 377,878 were sold in the United States alone. In 2004, Sports Car International named this car #7 on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. In 1983, the RX-7 would appear on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for the first time.
Mazda RX-7 1st gen Racing
Racing versions of the first-generation RX-7 were entered at the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race. The first outing for the car, equipped with a 13B engine, failed by less than one second to qualify in 1979. The next year, a 12A-engine car not only qualified, it placed 21st overall. That same car did not finish in 1981, along with two more 13B cars. Those two cars were back for 1982, with one 14th place finish and another DNF. The RX-7 Le Mans effort was replaced by the 717C prototype for 1983. In 1991, Mazda became the first (and so far, only) Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 hours of Le Mans. The car was a 4-rotor prototype class car, the 787B. The FIA outlawed rotary engines shortly after this win.
Mazda began racing RX-7s in the IMSA GTU series in 1979. That first year, RX-7s placed first and second at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and claimed the GTU series championship. The car continued winning, claiming the GTU championship seven years in a row. The RX-7 took the GTO championship ten years in a row from 1982. The RX-7 has won more IMSA races than any other car model.
The RX-7 also fared well at the Spa 24 Hours race. Three Savanna/RX-7s were entered in 1981 by Tom Walkinshaw Racing. After hours of battling with several BMW 530i and Ford Capri, the RX-7 driven by Pierre Dieudonné and Tom Walkinshaw won the event. Mazda had turned the tables on BMW, who had beaten Mazda's Familia Rotary to the podium eleven years earlier at the same event. TWR's prepared RX-7s also won the British Touring Car Championship in 1980 and 1981, driven by Win Percy.
Canadian/Australian touring car driver Allan Moffat was instrumental in bringing Mazda into the Australian touring car scene. Over a four year span beginning in 1981, Moffat took the Mazda RX-7 to victory in the 1983 Australian Touring Car Championship, as well as a trio of Bathurst 1000 podiums, in 1981 (3rd with Derek Bell), 1983 (second with Yoshima Katayama) and 1984 (third with former motorcycle champion Gregg Hansford). Australia's adoption of international Group A regulations, combined with Mazda's reluctance to homologate a Group A RX-7, ended Mazda's active participation in the touring car series at the end of the 1984 season.
The RX-7 even made an appearance in the World Rally Championship. The car finished 11th on its debut at the RAC Rally in Wales in 1981. Group B received much of the focus for the first part of the 1980s, but Mazda did manage to place third at the 1985 Acropolis Rally, and the Familia 4WD claimed the victory at Swedish Rally in both 1987 and 1989.