44k Miles! Super-Clean 1985 Mazda RX-7 GS

Wedge styling, rotary power, and a two-passenger configuration made Mazda’s first-generation RX-7 one unique ride. This 1985 Mazda RX-7 GS in Uniontown, Ohio has accumulated fewer than 45,000 miles in its lifetime, mostly serving its original owner from purchase until 2011. It languished with a second owner before the current seller refurbished and painted it before offering it up in splendid condition here on eBay. The little sports car has attracted at least 25 Watchers while awaiting an acceptable offer or the perfect suitor to click But It Now for $13,500.

The red cloth and vinyl interior shows wear appropriate to the mileage, though I’ve seen interiors looking this good after 145,000 miles too. Sun damage may have aged some of the plastics compared to the original look, but overall it’s ready to go.

Shiny wheels complement the new white paint. Praise the seller for crafting an excellent listing that shames ads for cars costing ten times as much. A host of new parts from stem to stern should have this hatchback ready for many miles of service.

Ever see a spark plug arrangement like this? Mazda’s choice of a Wankel Rotary engine elevated its reputation with clever engineering. The rotary makes lightweight power from small displacement. This 1.1L (67 cid) two-rotor 12A made 100 HP during a year when Chevrolet’s Corvette used 5.7L to make 230 HP and weighed about 1000 lb more. This was the final model year for the first-gen RX-7, making it prized for fans of the nimble two-seater. With so much work done on this one, it may find a home with someone who owned one in their youth and wants a turn-key classic for weekend trips down memory lane. Have you driven a rotary-powered Mazda?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    I’ve owned a rotary-powered Mazda, Todd. In my case, a ’73 RX-3. Wonderful little car, at least until a massive seal failure led the engine to start burping out water….

    Despite that — and some disappointment with the dealer who really cheaped out on paying for repairs — I loved the first-gen RX-7. Always wanted one. In the beginning, they were pretty simple machines, and very attractive. And since they were clearly faster than my ‘-3, I had no doubt I’d love driving one. As, later, I was able to confirm.

    So yes, I could go for this. The faded red interior doesn’t thrill me, but everything else looks pretty good. Seller says the a/c is gone, and I don’t know how difficult it would be to install another unit.

    Like 5
  2. Superdessucke

    Bless my lucky stars. A non 1967-69 Camaro or 1968-72 Chevelle! Interesting car and nice specimen. These things are a hoot to drive. A friend of mine had one back in high school. These were everywhere back in the day but most of them rusted or were beaten to death. So you don’t see many this nice anymore.

    Like 3
  3. Steve Clinton

    With all the RX-7s Mazda sold, why are there so few left? Did that engine self-destruct? (Beautiful car, BTW!)

    Like 3
    • Joe

      A few reasons, the engine did still fail sooner than a piston engine did, coolant and oil seals got old and went. Apex seals still wore out faster than they should. Rust was another issue. The price of replacing the engine was just to much for many owners as usually it was done at the Mazda Dealers. There were not many mechanics that knew how to rebuild one and spec the housings to see if they were still good. Back then no one expected a RX-7 or Rx-2, RX-3 to be a collectors car like they are now because how rare they are. If you had the money to buy up all the dead Rx-3s years ago and stored them away somewhere dry, you could make so money. I bought a 1973 RX-3 with 50k with a new engine in 1978 for $1200.00, garage kept with a/c. That car in nice condition could bring 30K now. I own a 2010 RX-8 now, bought in April of 2019, 81k for only $6100.00. They don’t hold their value due to engine failures.Don’t know if in 30 years these will be work much, I drive it about 4K a year so it probably will not be worth as much as a garage queen would be. Engines still fail before piston engine on RX-8 with some owners only getting 60 to 80K on them, early 2004 and 2005 got less. Mazda had to put a 8 year 100k warranty on the RX-8 to keep the owners happy. One last point the 12A engine only got about 15 to 20 mpg in normal driving, another reason many owners may have not put more money in the upkeep, plus they used about a quart of oil every 1000 to 1500 miles to lubricate the apex seals.

      Like 10
    • JMB#7

      I think that the answer to your question is that they were too much fun. Some found new lives on the racetracks. Some were driven too hard and crashed. Many topped 300k miles and were run into the ground. It was not an expensive car to begin with, so it did not get the loving car that more expensive cars received. There are still plenty of them out there but the prices have not climbed so the desire to part with them is not much of a motivation. I still have a 1982, and do not plan on parting with it.

      Like 8
    • Superdessucke

      Joe’s post makes sense. I don’t know the longevity of these if you drive them like normal cars but most were driven hard, particularly by the second owner on. They also rusted, and many got modded into hideous shells of their former selves and then junked.

      Like 2
      • JMB#7

        Around 10 years ago I was repeatedly asked if I would sell mine by young guys. It seemed that they wanted to make drift cars from them. What a sad fate that would be.

        Like 3
      • Steve Clinton

        JMB#7, did you tell them “It’s not for sale, get my drift?”

        Like 4
      • Superdessucke

        Drifting is red hot right now. Not sure how hot it was during the heyday of these cars but regardless, many got trashed.

        Anyway, the latest darling amongst the drift set is the E36 BMW. Since I have an E36 M3, I’m stockpiling original parts now because a substantial chunk of them will soon be gone!

        Like 2
  4. KLH

    I had a 1985 RX-7 GSL-SE with 135 hp. Nice car but not much torque. Handling was good.

    Like 2
  5. JMB#7

    I have studied the ebay pictures and read the descriptions. If you know your 1st Gen RX7, then this might be a good car. Personally I see a lot of Pros & Cons to this one. The description of the repaint and surface rust probably ignores that that rust has been growing from the inside of the sheet metal and will come back. The interior looks pretty good which leads me to believe it was kept out of the sun, although some parts were replaced. I do not think that a Pacesetter header is nearly as good as one from Racing Beat. The catalytic converter was removed, but really should have a resonator or silencer in it’s place. The rubber hangers for the exhaust are just hanging there which leads to me feel that someone was in a hurry. Some of the stuff under the hood looks abnormally dirty to me (dirtier than mine with 130k miles). I will wrap up with saying that the 12A engine by 1985 is rock solid and should outlast most piston engines of the same era. Most will exceed 150k miles with basic care.

    Like 3
    • Joe

      If you changed the oil at 3k not 5K, topping off the oil often before it was a quart low, using a quality 10w 40 or 20W 50, you got a good life out of the engine, sadly many people did not do this. Also shutting it off right after you ran it hard was not good for the coolant and oil o rings. Those seals still fail still fail on the newer Rx-8.

      Like 3
      • JMB#7

        Your advice is good. Keep in mind that the RX8 is the 13B motor and the RX7 was the 12A until 1986 with the exception of the 1985 GSL-SE (I am speaking for North American models). Rotaries do not have combustion blow by like a piston engine. Therefore the oil never really appears to get “dirty”. This results in some people neglecting to change it. Most of the oil consumption is through the metering valve/pump into the intake which lubricates the tip seals. Which brings us to the debate about full synthetic oils. As a general rule, avoid full synthetic in a rotary which still uses the metering pump (as opposed to pre-mix). The problem is that some synthetics will leave carbon (ash) deposits in the combustion chamber. If you are bent on using synthetic, do your research, some are designed with this in mind.

        Like 4
  6. Racer-x

    My current “father-son” project is a 1982 RX-7 I picked up from the original owner who had put a gentle 200k miles on it. Pulling the engine this weekend for a rebuild, then paint and refreshing everything. Going to be a driver.

    This is my second RX-7 following my short term purchase of this one https://barnfinds.com/california-yard-clean-out-1983-mazda-rx-7/

    Like 3
  7. christopher gush

    Very nice car for its vintage. A/C should be almost irrelevant given these were not high torque engines, and the compressors robbed valuable horsepower.. Roll down the windows and let the wind blow through your hair. (real hair required). There is a huge following and support for these cars, thus new owners should not be concerned about maintaining them. The rotor housing coolant seal issue was resolved later in production and if the antifreeze was changed regularly (low acidity) owners had a pretty good chance of no hydro lock. Should be a nice car for someone.

    Like 2
    • JMB#7

      Page # 3-21 of the owners manual “Air Flow Ventilation” explains how those tiny vents ahead of the rear quarter window draws air through the car. It works! I never had A/C on my 1982 RX7. One word of caution; when you switch the controls to Vent at highway speeds, be prepared to be pelted in the face with dried bugs and maple seeds! Glasses or squinting is highly recommended. No joke, I am very serious.

      Like 3
  8. Karl

    I had a grey/silver twin to this car and it had a 5 speed with the 12A I had a wing and front air dam on mine. The car was great it handles well drove very well I dont remember the mpg, never cared.
    Mazda was trying really hard to get the rotary engine into all sorts of things in the hopes that it would become more accepted in the US, even John Deer was playing with its own rotary power plant in the hopes of luring some military contracts their way it never went anywhere. I remember when the RX8 came out and it was turbocharged I thought this HAS GOT TO BE GOOD RIGHT? Even at almost worthless low boost levels they were blowing the Apex seals, again another dead end for the Rotary!

    Like 1
  9. doone

    Had an 83 12a, and an 86 13b. Had that 1 up to 130 twice, great winding engine up to 8k r’s in 2nd 3rd and 4th gears. Sold it 15 yrs later with 150k on the clock and it still wound out strong. 1st year of dynamic 4 whl steer. Great car.

    Like 2
  10. Karl

    Doone I would have loved the 13B it was a dream engine for me! My little 12A was good for 120 mph I think I drove it around 40K before I sold it! Great car !

    Like 2
  11. Rodger

    Well there is a lot of wrong information mixed in the comments, but given the state of the first amendment these days, I may not be allowed to point that out. Let’s just say rotaries are unique, you may like them, you may not, but don’t count them out.
    72 RX2 vintage race car
    73 RX3
    74 Repu
    79 RX7 IMSA replica
    85 RX7 SCCA race car
    93 RX7

    Like 5
  12. JMB#7

    No need to point it out. But please say anything that you believe is correct. Most of the sob stories around rotaries is pure myth. Knowledge is a good thing. Long live the 12A & 13B.

    Like 3
  13. Charles Sawka

    From drag racing experience. Turbo charging these puppies is a hoot ! Seals don’t live long but they will fly !

    Like 1
    • Steve Clinton

      Wow, I’ve never seen a flying seal! ;-)

      Like 1

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