Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.
To quote modern lexicon, ‘only ’90s kids will remember’ that 20-years ago, Japan was the leader in affordable performance. Cars like the Acura NSX and Integra Type R, Nissan 300ZX and Honda Civic Si went wheel-to-wheel with their European counterparts and finished on top. Out of all of them, however, the Mazda RX-7 (immortalized by Dom Torretto in the original Fast and Furious) was arguably the best all-rounder. Despite its temperamental reputation, the low weight, 250-odd horsepower and 7,500 rpm redline made it a driving icon of its day. And today, you might be able to pick one up for the same price as a new Mazda Miata.
What We Like: Now that Japanese sports cars are earning vintage car status and others are outside of the 25-year law limitation, they’re seeing a boom in popularity again. The RX-7 holds a special place in a lot of enthusiasts’ hearts, not just because it was Dom Toretto’s original ride, but because, from stock it was an outrageous performance car. This example here has such low-mileage that it might as well be 1993 again. This is one of the cleanest and, most importantly, unmodified FD RX-7s to surface in a while, which might be why it costs almost the same as it did when it was new.
From the Seller: “The seller recently purchased the car from a dealer in St. Louis, and it currently has 21k-miles. This Touring package equipped example features a sunroof, rear wiper, fog lights, 16-inch alloys, a black & tan interior, and Bose Acoustic Wave sound system. Power comes from a 1.3L twin-turbocharged dual-rotor engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission.”
Watch Out For: The twin-turbocharged rotary engine pulling the FD RX-7 was legendary for its ‘explosive’ temperament. Between the high-revving, fragile characteristics of the rotary engine, the volcanic levels of heat from the sequential turbos and the smaller-than-needed cooling system, the RX-7’s engine was prone to overheating and leaks. This is a very low-mileage example, so it’s most likely in fantastic shape, but that means the problems are on their way. A common way to get ahead of the potentially catastrophic headache, or at least mitigate it, is to install a larger aftermarket intercooler.
Original Review: “The guys on the RX-7 team leave several clues they were aiming through the crosshairs at Acura‘s NSX, particularly in some areas of performance. Mazda’s claiming 0-60 mph in a blistering 4.9 seconds and a quarter mile in 13.5. The last time we tested a manual NSX, it made 60 in 5.4 seconds and the quarter in 13.7. They aren’t direct competitors. At over 60 grand, the NSX will burn down roughly twice as much money as the RX-7. And the RX-7 will lack the NSX’s stunning conceptual brilliance. But make no mistake. The RX-7 will kick some tail and take
some names.” — MotorTrend
Alternatives: In the ’90s, there was a flood of affordable sports cars coming out of Japan. Though the RX-7 is often cited as the best all-rounder, it was hard to go wrong when picking a performance car from the island nation. The Acura Integra Type R was down on power from the RX-7, but being $10,000 cheaper was a significant lure. Perhaps the Mazda’s most direct competitor was the Nissan 300ZX, although that came with a $10,000 premium over the RX-7. Most surprisingly, the RX-7 could best the Acura NSX in the 0-60mph contest by about a half-second and was $30,000 cheaper to boot.