Junkyard Gem: 1988 Mazda RX-7 Coupe

Junkyard Gem: 1988 Mazda RX-7 Coupe

The first-generation of the Mazda RX-7 was sold in the United States from the 1979 through 1985 model years, and the little Wankel-engined sports car sold so well here during that time that I still find plenty of discarded examples during my junkyard travels. The second-generation RX-7 (popularly known as the FC, thanks to those characters in the fourth and fifth characters of the VIN) was bigger, more luxurious and more powerful than its predecessor, and its boneyard rarity means that today’s ’88 is the very first example I’ve documented for this series.

This car hit the regular inventory at a legendary family-owned yard just south of Denver when a remote storage lot had to be cleared out. More than 100 classics from the 1940s through 1970s (including close to two dozen first-generation Ford Mustangs) showed up among the ordinary late-model vehicles recently, and a few more recent classics showed up at the same time.

The FC RX-7 looked quite a bit like its Toyota Supra, Nissan 300ZX, Mitsubishi Starion and Porsche 944 rivals of the same era, and the suits in Hiroshima hoped it would snatch some sales from the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang on our side of the Pacific while battling its imported competition.

What really set the RX-7 apart from the competition was its piston-free engine. This is a 13B twin-rotor, which first showed up here in the 1984-1985 RX-7 with the hot-rod GSL package.

In this application, the 13B was rated at 146 horsepower and 138 pound-feet. A turbocharged version was available, delivering apex seal fragments out the tailpipe 182 horses and 183 pound-feet.

Check out that 7,000 rpm redline! That was wild stuff for a street car in 1988.

For reasons nobody has ever been able to explain to my satisfaction, many American buyers of Wankel-powered Mazdas encumbered these low-torque cars with automatic transmissions. This one has the proper five-on-the-floor manual, though.

There’s also air conditioning and a faceplate-deprived aftermarket radio.

The registration tags expired in 2016, so it was on the road in the not-so-distant past. The odometer shows 171,026 miles.

The interior is grimy but not shredded.

There’s no serious corrosion, but some of the paint is peeling. This car has a better chance than most of being rescued from its predicament.

The FC stayed in production through 1992. This one had an MSRP of $15,480 (about $40,900 in 2023 dollars), but it has some pricey options that would have pushed the final figure quite a bit higher. The air conditioning was an $860 option, for example, and then there’s that $595 sunroof ($2,272 and $1,572 after inflation).

Doing things the Mazda way, according to James Garner.

In its homeland, it was known as the Savanna RX-7.

New Adult Sports.