The Mazda RX-7 is a sports coupe that entered production at the tail-end of the 1970s and remained an important part of the Mazda lineup until 2002. During its time on the road, the RX-7 earned a reputation as a highly-popular sports vehicle for custom-enthused drivers seeking aftermarket modifications to auto parts. This largely had to do with the model's racing profile, which would later go on to become a big part of the vehicle's marketing (even during model years when the engine displacement wasn't particularly powerful). When it first rolled off the line, the RX-7 showed off a svelte body shape, a 1.1L engine, and a distinctive high-mounted license plate.
Throughout most of the first generation, the Mazda RX-7 was broken down into "series." Series 2 premiered in 1981 and displayed four-wheel disc brakes, wrap-around tail lights, and a limited slip differential. This version of the RX-7 was considered a success by critics and drivers alike, as it took home Ten Best honors from Car and Driver magazine. 1984 welcomed in the third series, which showcased a fuel-injected 1.3L engine good for 135 horsepower and 135 pounds-per-foot of torque. Configurations of the model varied from country to country but overall, sales were very strong. Almost 378,000 units were sold in the US over the first generation. The second generation of the Mazda RX-7 debuted in 1986. Dubbed "Series 4", the RX-7 was equipped with a fuel-injected 1.3L engine which produced up to 146 horsepower. However, a turbocharged variant offered a boost with 182 hp. Like the previous generation, Mazda's sophomore effort with the RX-7 turned up aces, as well, garnering Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year (1986) and making Car and Driver's Ten Best List once again (1987).
Third-generation Mazda RX-7s began making their way onto US dealer lots for the 1992 model year. It was designed with a more aerodynamic feel than it had in the past and bold 1.3L base engine rated at 250 horsepower directed through either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. As for the model's dimensions, the Mazda RX-7 measured in with a wheelbase of 95.5 inches, a height of 48.4 inches, a width of 68.9 inches, and an overall length of 168.5 inches. As the third (and final) generation of the Mazda RX-7 progressed, a more powerful 1.3L engine capable of up to 276 horsepower entered the lineup. Series 6 (the inaugural series of the third generation) was the most successful in other markets outside the US and Canada. More recognition came the car's way, as it took home Playboy magazine's Car of the Year award (1993) and was once again named to Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best List (1993, 1994, and 1995). Following 1995, the RX-7 was no longer offered in North America, although it stayed in production in Japan for the next several years for other markets.
Hailed as one of the most important sports cars of the modern era, the RX-7 still retains its rightful place as a true legend. One of the models that put Mazda on the map, this desirable sports coupe broke through many barriers when it debuted, from its economically sound price range to its uniquely-attractive body design and reliable Mazda parts that caught the world off-guard. It has also been known to pack enough punch to pass from the fast lane, and corners with brisk efficiency. With a remarkable pedigree of success to back it up, the RX-7 is a striking reminder of Mazda innovation.
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