• Dec 1st 2006 at 10:19AM
  • 20
Ah, the RX-7. The first generation, it could be argued, are the best. They were inexpensive, sharp looking, sharper driving and durable. They burst on the scene looking a little like a cross between the Porsche 930 slantnose and the 924 greenhouse and rear end. Flickr member TacitBlue discovered the ersatz-Porsche goodness and affordable thrills of this 1983 RX-7 GSL and realized that it ticked every box on his "perfect car" list. Once he nabbed it, he did the right thing and went right to taking it apart.

Read on for the full story, a list of modifications and more pictures after the jump.

If you'd like to see your own ride featured here, simply upload photos of your ride into our Flickr group. Next week's theme is forced induction, so be sure to add your own unnaturally aspirated whip to the group. Detailed instructions can be found after the jump.

The first generation RX-7 is a great starting point for a really fun car. They're not hyper-powereful right out of the box, but they handle like demons. That handling prowess is due to the little beer keg of an engine, the 12A Rotary, being extremely light and located behind the front axle, providing a 50/50 weight distribution. The rest of the chassis was filled with good stuff, too, like a Watt's link out back and a curb weight of just over 2500 pounds, these cars tended toward the Lotus "Add Lightness" ethos. The Rotary (or Wankel, after Felix Wankel) engine was so smooth, you could easily rev it out to 9 or even 10,000 RPM – so the world's loudest buzzer was fitted to the tachometer of these cars. The 100 horsepower doesn't sound like much now, in these power-drunk days, but back in '78 when the RX-7 bowed, it endowed these cars with respectable performance for the day. If that's not enough for you, there's plenty of enthusiast support, and one of the quickest, easiest routes to power (and one that helped the RX-7 rack up more IMSA racing victories than any other car), is porting and bridging the intakes. This involves opening up the intake port in the rotor housing, allowing the rotor to take larger gulps, and tacking a little bridge across the port so the rotor's apex seal doesn't come flying out. This practice can nearly double the output of the little Wankel, and that's before you start playing around with forced induction.

Using the car as part of an automotive course curriculum, TacitBlue made some modifications, learned a lot about rust abatement and how to start fires with MIG welders. All his hard work has paid off, as he's got a nice-looking ride that's capable on the track as well. Not content to leave the GSL alone, he's fitted an RX-4 oil cooler, changed the carburetor, opened up the exhaust (at the expense of his hearing, no less) and made some chassis tweaks. Altogether, it looks like TacitBlue enjoyed his learning experience and he's apparently been taking the fruits of his labor out to autocross, which is far better than being sent to the glue factory. These are cars worth getting fired up over.


  • Mikuni 44PHH Side draft Carburetor
  • Mazda Wrap Around Intake Manifold
  • RX-4 Oil Cooler
  • Racing Beat Header
  • 2 ¼" exhaust w/Racing Beat Resonator, stock muffler
  • Carter 72GPH Fuel Pump
  • Holley FPR
  • Emissions Removal
  • A/C Removal
  • Engine Torque Brace
  • Racing Beat Springs
  • Tokico Blue Shocks
  • 195/60/R13 Sumitomo HTR200

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Once upon a time, there was a family down the street that had two RX-7's, each driven by a tall, blonde, pretty girl. One car was black, I think, and the other was charcoal gray. Ocasionally in the spring or summer, one might see one or the other car being washed by its owner wearing shorts and a bathing suit. Good days indeed. That's enough reason for me to vote for it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I love this generation of the RX-7. Mine was a 81 that I bought off my dad. Great little car, really fun in the snow!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sweet little cars.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I love first gen RX7's. I currently have a GSL-SE (the best of the first gens :-) and my daughter who is now 21 still has wht was her first car, a GSL. Both of our cars are '85's. This RR seems to be a really nice one. Congrats to TacitBlue for doing such a nice job at saving this little piece of autodom.... .
      • 8 Years Ago
      I've owned my '79 since new. Great little car. I still love to drive it on weekends.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice car! Wish I still had mine ('82 GSL) Darn salt water from Ivan.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't remember if it was called a 78 or 79, but the car was on dealer lots- for sale- in June of 78. Details, details. But, the fun factor for $$$ spent was unsurpassed. We had a local who was a wizard at porting and getting more fuel into these, and he worked for beer! Ah, the memories. I think that a brand new one was somewhere in the $7500 range, with dealer installed a/c. A stock gas Rabbit was in the same neighborhood.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice pick by Dan. I have to say that I like the mix we have for this week's RRs. The weekend poll should be fun.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I sure do miss my old '82 GS. It was an amazing little car for its time, and even though mine was already 16 years old before I bought it, it was still an impressive machine. It was my first Mazda, and I haven't looked back since (I'm now on my sixth Mazda).

      My list of cars since then includes an '04 Mazdaspeed Miata and my current '06 MX-5, but that little RX-7 is still my favorite of every car I have ever owned! It will definitely get my vote!
      • 8 Years Ago

      Not quite...The Porsche 924, which this car resembles the most, came out in 1976 about 3 years prior to the RX-7.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sweet ride! I always loved these things, the crazy engines, the way they handle, those quirky and exciting breakdowns...nice condition too.

      I'll probably still be casting for the D90, but this is a serious contender.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The first Gen was definatly the best, a 79, 3rd one sold in San Diego was my first new car, in its day it was unbeatable for the price, Zs were easy pickins with this little rice rocket, out the door $7800..too bad those days are gone,o well find a good used one and have a ball!
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