Mazda RX-7 2nd gen (FC) series 5
Series 5 (1989-1992) featured updated styling and better engine management, as well as lighter rotors and a higher compression ratio, 9.7:1 for the naturally aspirated model, and 9.0:1 for the turbo model. The Turbo II moniker was dropped, and the turbocharged model was simply dubbed Turbo. The naturally aspirated Series 5 FC made 160 hp (119 kW), while the Series 5 Turbo made 200 hp (147 kW).
Mazda RX-7 2nd gen (FC)
The second generation RX-7 ("FC", VIN begins JM1FC3 or JMZFC1), still known as the "Savanna RX-7" in Japan, featured a complete restyling reminiscent of the Porsche 928. Mazda's stylists, lead by Chief Project Engineer Akio Uchiyama, actually focused more on the Porsche 944 for their inspiration in designing the FC because the new car was being styled primarily for the American market, where the majority of first generation RX-7's had been sold. This strategy was chosen after Uchiyama and others on the design team spent time in the United States studying owners of earlier RX-7's and other sports cars popular in the American market. The Porsche 944 was selling particularly well at the time and provided clues as to what sports-car enthusiasts might find compelling in future RX-7 styling and equipment. While the SA22/FB was a purer sports car, the FC tended toward the softer sport-tourer trends of its day. Handling was much improved, with less of the oversteer tendencies of the FB. Steering was more precise, with rack and pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball steering of the FB. Disc brakes also became standard, with some models (S4: GXL, GTU, Turbo II, Convertible; S5: GTUs, Turbo, Convertible) offering four-piston front brakes. The revised independent rear suspension incorporated special toe control hubs which were capable of introducing a limited degree of passive rear steering under cornering loads. The rear seats were optional in some models of the FC RX-7, but are not commonly found.
Though about 80 lb heavier and more isolated than its predecessor, the FC continued to win accolades from the press. The FC RX-7 was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1986, and the Turbo II was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for a second time in 1987. Many car drivers still favor the FC more than the FD because of its high tuning potential and upfront affordability.
In 1988, a convertible version started production in atmospheric and turbocharged form, proving an instant success. This sleek, clean-lined model featured a cabriolet design and was introduced to the American market in splashy television advertisements featuring Hollywood actor James Garner, who was known to race cars in his spare time. Several leading car magazines at the time also selected the convertible as the best ragtop available on the market, and it was the star of auto shows around the globe. The convertible's well orchestrated introduction caused a notable public sensation and heavy demand for these vehicles. Dealers took full advantage of the situation, charging up to $5,000 above Mazda's suggested retail selling price with buyers happy to pay the premium. It is believed Mazda exported approximately five thousand convertibles to the United States in 1988 and fewer in each of the next three model years, although it is difficult to confirm these figures, as Mazda USA did not keep RX-7 import records by model type. Despite production ceasing in October 1991, Mazda built a limited run of 500 convertibles for 1992 as "specials" for the domestic market only. In Japan, the United Kingdom, and other regions outside the US, a turbocharged version of the convertible was available. Being former "dream cars", it now appears a nascent collectors market is developing for these classic, semi-exotic sports cars.
In the Japanese market, only the turbo engine was available; the atmospheric version was allowed only as an export. This can be attributed to insurance companies penalising turbo cars (thus restricting potential sales). This emphasis on containing horsepower and placating insurance companies to make RX-7's more affordable seems ironic in retrospect. Shortly after the discontinuance of the second generation RX-7's in 1991, an outright horsepower "arms race" broke out between sports car manufacturers, with higher and higher levels of horsepower required to meet buyer demands.
Overall, the second generation was the most successful for Mazda sales wise, with 86,000 units sold in the US alone in 1986, its first model year. The FC model is believed to have achieved its peak in sales in 1988.