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Japanese Classic: 1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL

When Mazda released the Cosmo 11S in 1967 there was a great deal of skepticism expressed by the motoring press. This stemmed from massive reliability issues that had plagued the NSU Ro 80. Both NSU and Mazda had chosen to employ the Wankel rotary engine, and the NSU problems did damage to the company from which it never recovered. Mazda had followed its own path on rotary engine development, and by the 1970s, the rotary engine was the heart of its “RX” series of cars. One of these was the RX-7, and this 1985 model, which is located in Portland, Oregon,  has just been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has currently reached $5,000 for the Mazda, and this is a No Reserve auction.

When I go through the listing for this car, it really needs to be used as an example of how to effectively sell a car. There are no less than 45 clear photos, and the seller goes to great lengths to point out the vehicle’s faults. The most obvious with the body is the damage that you can see where the fender and valance meet. The paint on the driver’s side rear pillar between the quarter panel and the roof is also crazed, but this isn’t visible in the photos. The rest of the Sunrise Red paint looks to be in very nice condition, with only a few minor chips and scratches, and the owner says that there is no rust anywhere in the vehicle. This is a claim that is verified by the clear photos of the underside of the car, which appears to be spotless. As well as featuring a sunroof, the owner has the storage pouch for the sunroof and a factory “bra” to protect the front of the car.

The interior of an RX-7 is always a pretty nice place to be, and this example seems to be no exception to that rule. There is some discoloring of the upholstery on the seat bases, but the rest of the interior looks to be both original, and well preserved. The factory stereo still holds pride of place in the lower dash, while the inclusion of power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, and air conditioning make an already pleasant life just that bit better.

The RX-7 is a sports car where it isn’t all about horsepower. The 12A Wankel engine doesn’t produce loads of horsepower (101hp), and nor does it produce copious quantities or torque. That syrupy smooth engine delivers its power and torque in a smooth and linear fashion. I once heard a racing driver say that his RX-7 didn’t accelerate like a normal car, you just became aware that it kept getting faster. They are a free-revving engine, and in standard form, can propel the car to 120mph. The owner says that this RX-7 runs and drives well, and for peace of mind, he is including a comprehensive log of all of the work and maintenance that has been performed on the car.

If you are a person on the hunt for a hairy-chested sports car, then you’ve come to the wrong place if you are considering an RX-7 as a possible purchase. These are more of a precision instrument, but I have seen more than one person climb behind the wheel of one of these with a look of skepticism on their face, and emerge with a huge grin in its place. These are a fun car to drive, they handle well, and they are extraordinarily comfortable. It is these traits that make it easy to see why bidding on this one has been quite spirited. These really are worth the effort.


  1. Avatar photo Boatman Member

    Worked for a Mazda dealer in the 80’s. These really are a blast to drive, especially in the s-curves!

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Jferrelllancaster

      If only it was the GSL-SE 13B…I worked at Mazda from 1990 to 2007 too..loved all the RX-7s

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Ben T. Spanner

    I had a 1981, one of my favorite cars. I don’t think the front seats are discolored, I think that is just the texture of the cloth. This is a super clean car 2000 miles plus from me.

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Larry Brenner

    I had an ’83 GSL. Saying it was a blast is an understatement. I really miss that car. Well, except when it rained or snowed. In the wet, the back end wanted to arrive before the front end. Nice, low mile examples are closing in on $10K now, so I guess the secret is out. :-(

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Kurt Member

    Had a similar car, very fun to drive but poor gas mileage and not many independent shops can work on them. Developed an oil leak in the block so I sold it. The turbo versions always interested me as it seems a way to improve efficiency and therefore better mileage. My car got the same mileage as my friends Vette.

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo theGasHole

    Over the weekend bumped into a guy who has an ’88 Rx7 convertible he’s looking to sell. Red with grey interior and a black top. 50k miles. Not too familiar with these cars but it’s in very, very nice shape. What do you guys think price wise?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Nevadahalfrack Member

      On the travel, I’ve seen the general car you’re describing as recently selling from $3000 (entry level model, very well used but drivable) to $22000 (odor had 25k miles documented, all options).
      Keeping in mind that this was mostly in CA. (where performance car are considered evil unless you’re in Hollywood) you should adjust your purchase potential accordingly.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo robert m epperson Member

    I had a 1982 GSL that was a blast to drive and could be driven quite fast in the curves if you paid attention. It handled well, great ride and nice interior. They were hot and I paid full price for one at a dealer in Austin. This dealer didn’t mark them up and I waited for 3 months but it certainly was worth it.

    My father in law coveted the RX7 and when we needed a family car he bought it and kept it for 8 years. Really nice sports car.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Iceman from Winnipeg

    Ok, someone has to ask the question. What is a Whales v****a?

    Like 1

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