Evo blasts around in a Spa 24H-winning Mazda RX-7

Think of the Mazda RX-7 today, and your thoughts likely turn to the turbocharged third-generation version of the '90s that's an icon among the tuning and drifting communities. Many years before that swoopy coupe was hanging the tail out, the first model of RX-7 was also quite a track star, though. Evo's Richard Meaden has gotten ahold of a race-prepped version that counts a victory in the 1981 Spa 24 Hours to its name – the first Japanese car to claim that honor – for a fantastic video.

With 225 horsepower and weighing around 1,984 pounds, this RX-7 doesn't look like a giant killer on paper. However as Meaden illustrates, the coupe puts those rotary-powered ponies to very good use. Driving it requires constantly keeping things on the boil because the muscle is essentially absent below 7,000 rpm. Once in the sweet spot, things start progressing quickly, though. As a wonderful cap to the wall of noise from the engine, little licks of flame also shoot out of the exhaust on downshifts. Thankfully, Evo's video team captures all of the mechanical noises quite well, and the clip is a treat for those with a good pair of headphones.

Despite the race-winning pedigree, Meaden has no problem grabbing the little coupe by the scruff of the neck. He chucks it through the corners to get the tail loose, and the little wisps of smoke from the rear tires prove the original RX-7 knows how to drift too. These early cars definitely worth being remembered in the pantheon of Mazda performance.

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