7,800 RPMs, 9,500 Miles: 1988 Mazda RX7

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

While I don’t necessarily encourage people to not use their vehicles, I can get behind the idea that a convertible be reserved for summer use only. Although it’s never been on my automotive bucket list, I can see how some enthusiasts pine for a drop-top to use exclusively in sunny weather, and this 1988 Mazda RX7 here on eBay strikes me as a car that I could enjoy socking away and then using extensively in the months between winter and fall. It has only 9,500 original miles and bidding is quite active with the reserve unmet. 

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Many examples of this generation of RX7 have been used up and put out to pasture. Blame teenagers with heavy foots and light bank accounts. It’s not they were unreliable; instead, they suffered the plight of becoming just a cheap used car and therefore easily accessible by any kid with a summer job. Thankfully, this convertible example has clearly been an adult’s pride and joy, and the interior remains as clean as you might expect for such a low-mileage creampuff.

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Although not as exciting as the turbocharged version, the stock 13B twin-rotor engine delivered a respectable 160 b.h.p. The only trouble is, this second generation RX7 was not nearly as lightweight as its predecessor, so this car was hardly a pocket rocket. Grand touring is what it did best, but they can still be made to handle. Best of all, Mazda performed the convertible conversions in-house, meaning structural rigidity isn’t half-bad (for the era), especially compared to its competitors that used aftermarket partners like ASC.

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Ah, pop-up headlights: a trend that I wish would come back. Another neat feature of the convertible is the removable center roof section with the remainder of the soft top still in place, creating a targa-style top. While not entirely practical, it is nice to have the flexibility to go one way or another, especially on chilly early spring mornings. And of course, those gorgeous BBS wheels really are the proverbial cherry on top. If you had to own one, this low-mileage, manual transmission-equipped RX7 could be worth the cost of admission. Which convertible would you choose?

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Comments

  1. tiger1966

    The 1988s had 146 horsepower, not 160. 1989 and later models had the 160-horse 13B. As noted, these aren’t exactly rockets (0-60 in 10.3).

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  2. Kevin

    Curious to know if this has a 5 or 6 digit odometer. The crinkles in the leather and dirty carpets make me think this car has more than the claimed mileage.

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    • Joe Howell

      Driver’s seat bolster shows a little too much wear for stated milage. I would need paper work backing it up. Well taken care of 100,000 miles cars can look this good.

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    • brian crowe

      looks like a 6 digit to me, there are 2 zero’s before the 9

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  3. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    A 28 year old Mazda rotary engine RX-7 convertible with under 10K miles—-must be the only one like it left on the planet. I don’t know how you would value it, other than putting it up for sale on Ebay and let people have at it.

    It’s rare in this condition, but I’m not too surprised that it’s still bid to only $4,650. It took a 240Z the better part of 50 years to sell for over $50K at auction, and that was a perfect early example of a landmark Japanese car.

    Even with the rotary engine and convertible body this Mazda isn’t anywhere close to being in the same category, so it will need to have a pretty low reserve to sell, even with the low miles. It would be a nice, rare convertible to cruise around in on summer evenings, but using it will knock off some of its value as you go.

    I would not value this car much higher than it’s already bid to, but it will be interesting to see how high the bidding goes.

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  4. Enzo

    The only thing uncommon about this car is its mileage. If you’re looking for a simple drop top cruiser, this is it.

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  5. HeadMaster1

    Nice car, the ODO goes 6 digits. The best year for these is 89, as they got the higher-compression, lighter rotor(pistons) version with a higher redline and about 12 more ponies…90 had the better engine also, but the car got heavier with the required airbag system and the optional abs….This will need some work soon, and maybe real soon on the fuel system as the pulsation dampener tends to leak from time and bbq the under the hood. I replaced many a wire harness and induction system on these back in the day from fire…..Nice looking car.

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  6. Eric_10cars Eric Dashman Member

    I have a 1984 RX7 GSL with the leather seats and the left seat left bolster is the heavy wear point. Mine has 188K miles (I bought it with 5K) and the bolster is torn somewhat and reached that worn look somewhere around the 100K mark. The rest of the leather on both seats is in perfect condition. I’m not convinced that this one could be so worn looking at that point in only 9500 miles. The mechanical speedometer is not hard to take out and roll back. The rest of the car is in such apparently impeccable condition though, including an extraordinarily detailed engine compartment. However, I noted red overspray on the undercarriage and wonder where that came from. It definitely did not come that way from the factory.
    These have not held their value. I pulled 3 ads from my local CL (an 88, 89, and 91). The most expensive, the 91 with 92K miles, is $4500 OBO and it looked very clean. White with blue leather and NO WEAR on the left bolster, but it’s an automatic and needs a top.

    I admit that every time one comes available I look long and hard at them. Being intimate with the rotary engine and it’s required maintenance, i.e., very regular oil changes (mine has been done faithfully every 2000 miles), I’d want to make sure the exhaust was clean. You can’t do a standard compression check on them, so clean oil and a clean exhaust pipe is essential when evaluating. They will smoke a tad on startup because they have an automatic oiler to lubricate the seals. The 13B engine has good torque, unlike the 12A carbureted version. I’ve always wished that mine was the SE, but alas it’s not.

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  7. Fiete T

    Moto Exotica or whatever they call themselves. See their listings & claims every so often…just saying I would not trust them

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