If there’s one thing you have to give to Mazda, is that they’re nothing if not determined. While the whole world had abandoned the concept of rotary Wankel engines for regular production, Mazda doubled down with the introduction of the 1978 Mazda RX7. It featured an excellent 2+2 hatchback design, pop-out headlights and svelte, swift silhouette, as well as many convenient features, such as power windows and mirrors, among others. There’s no doubt that the RX7 was popular: over 570,000 of them were sold before the first design was retired in 1985!
The Twin-Rotor Wankel engine, a 12A rotary engine, had a 2.3-liter displacement and produced 115 horsepower. Besides its convenient features and unconventional engine, the RX7 had a pretty ordinary drive-train, with live rear axle, but drivers got to enjoy a pretty decent five-speed manual gearbox, disc brakes and more. Moreover, you can’t really argue with success. Drivers loved the car, and bough it in droves! The Wankel’s only real downside, once reliability had been established, was that it really drank a lot of gas. Not exactly the eco-friendly choice, if you care about those things.
The 1978 Mazda RX7 remained in this form until 1985, when it was replaced with something the high-ups at Mazda decided would be more apt at competing with Porsche. It didn’t really work out as planned.