Few countries have had as strong a run of world-beating cars as Japan in the last few years of the 1980s and the first few of the 1990s. In the space of just a handful of years the nation gave us the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Lexus LS400, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 300ZX, Honda NSX, and of course, the third-generation Mazda RX-7.
It’s the latter that Jason Cammisa explores in Hagerty’s latest Revelations video, and how one of the decade’s greatest sports cars was almost too special for its own good.
If you know nothing else about the RX-7, you probably know that it’s a little different from most other cars, in using a Wankel rotary engine – Mazda being one of few companies to offer the technology to drivers, despite being one of dozens to explore it.
This design isn’t without its (sometimes major) faults, but it gave the RX-7 a genuinely unique selling point, and by the time of the third-generation RX-7 in 1991, the brightest minds at Mazda had honed it into a spectacular performance engine, if nothing else.
Not that the RX-7 was all about its engine, either. Mazda kept the car compact and light – smaller in both measures than its predecessor – while it was effectively engineered alongside the 787B that won at Le Mans in 1991.
Still, as Cammisa explains in the video, the RX-7’s weaknesses and idiosyncrasies didn’t exactly help sales, and illustrate that it’s possible to pursue one’s ideals a little too far sometimes. And only time will tell whether one ever ends up on the lawn at Pebble Beach…