Some of the top JDM cars have some crazy power, with amazing tuning potential. The ones we hear of the most are the Nissan GTR, Toyota Supra, Honda NSX. But we forget about the Mazda RX 7 with the Rotary Engine.
This engine is itself a legend in the automotive world, it’s got a lot of bad press but then again, it gets a lot of praise at the same time. It’s a bit like marmite.
But if you own or are looking to own an RX 7 you might be looking into increased power, better stance and styling. Or you might be wanting to know common problems. So I will try to address all of this in this post.
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What Is A Rotary Engine
If you’re not quite sure what a Rotary Engine is, it’s an Engine with a rotating cyclinder, simply put. A normal engine would have cylinders and pistons that go in a linear motion. But the rotary is powered by the radial motion created by pushing the cylinder around the housing.
The reason the engine worked so well and is such a stroke of genius is that the crankshaft rotates 3 times to 1 rotation of the triangle cylinder. Meaning the power output is 3:1, so a smaller engine can pump out more power.
The way it works is as it turns, it has 3 chambers, with one chamber where the fuel, air mixture goes and creates an explosion and another chamber for exhaust waste. Thus, everything is done in one motion.
This engine wasn’t used for long in Mazdas RX range and was short-lived between 1963 and 2012 and was eventually dropped down to poor fuel efficiency. Although the legend of the Wankel still live on.
The Power Of Rotary
What Mazda had created was a fantastic power to weight engine. They could get a lot of power out of a smaller engine. But what made it better was 2 turbo chargers!!
So the RX 7 was displacing 2 rotary chambers, each having 654cc of displacement. Coupling this with the sequential twin turbo, they deemed this to have the engine size of a 2.6.
Pumping out 237bhp from a 1300kg car, gave this a fantastic edge against its rivals who had more weight to accompany them. Not only that but it’s 50 / 50 weight ratio meant with its combined low Center of gravity it could also handle the corners.
The sequential turbos really were brilliant too. The idea is to cut out turbo lag, a problem found in most turbo cars. To save the lag, they have a turbo kick in at lower revs then the second one hits around 4K RPM. Giving it more boost.
The only downside was it’s lack of torque, but it made up for that with its magical mechanics.
Improving Power / Stance
The Wankel engine is already a punchy number and has fantastic suspension and weight ratios. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved. Improving power output on most turbo cars is a lot more simple than na. A quick remap will give you some effective gains.
But if you’re after some big gains, you’re running the route of the daring. You could start by upgrading turbos and increasing the air flow. There are fuel pump upgrades. In fact, here are some pretty well-known quick fixes.
- Air intake
- Fuel pump
- Turbo upgrades
- Fuel lines
These are just the start, if you want to go a bit deeper, try looking into porting, specifically bridge porting and street porting. Porting is something you can do if your really into the engine upgrade process. Check out what a rotary sounds like after a bridge port. They sound incredible.
As for stance and style, literally anything can enhance these, they are just photogenic. From front splitters to big wings. Here is a simple list of some things to consider.
Just about most things will make an RX 7 look that little bit cooler.
RX 7 Has The Cool Factor
Talking of cool, the RX 7 just has it, the looks, the engine, the exhaust note, even the cult following. If you’ve never heard of an RX 7 and you’re into cars, I’d be highly surprised.
With the cult following, there are some fantastic hoodies and T-shirts rocking on Amazon if you are a big car guy and want to show off and let the world know. If you support one of these, you’ll make friends pretty quick.
But it’s not all merch though, they are all over Instagram, movies, car meets. The RX 7 just stands out wherever it goes. If you ask me, it was the coolest Mazda ever built, sorry miata, not sorry.
But seriously, you just know an RX 7 usually before you see it, when you do it brings back memories of need for speed underground.
Buying An RX 7
If you’re after an RX 7 in the UK, the pickings are rather slim, there aren’t that many. The people that own them have cared for them like their babies, servicing them regular and spending thousands keeping them in great Knick. If you want one, expect to pay in the region of £20k for a good condition.
If you do buy one, we recommend taking it to a specialist to see what kind of engine damage it may or may not have as these Wankel engines need to be serviced every 6000 miles or so. They really are needy.
One common problem to look out for is worn apex seals. Make sure to get these checked out, because they can lead to other very pricey repairs.
Other than that, the RX series of cars were some underrated beasts in the performance game and never got the credit they deserve, so if you want to join the RX 7 crews and be a true petrol head, go for it.
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