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RHD Rarity: 1979 Mazda Savanna RX-7

Here’s a curiosity: a right-hand drive Japanese-market spec Mazda Savanna RX-7. These were sold with the Savanna nomenclature overseas, and according to the listing, this particular car has been here for quite some time – as the seller says, ” All the necessary legal paperwork was completed long-ago.” With that in mind, this car didn’t show up in the latest rush to import gray-market vehicles under the 25-year exemption, making its history even more curious. Find this Savanna RX-7 here on eBay with a $7,800 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer. 

Pictures are fairly awful, and I apologize for this long (and solitary) photo of the exterior. When I look at cars like these, I instantly begin to wonder how it got here. I own two vehicles that came to the U.S. with owners that acquired them overseas, and the stories for each car are fascinating. This Savanna RX-7 doesn’t show any outwards signs of being an overseas market example, but the steering wheel on the right-hand side is a pretty big giveaway. It doesn’t have the Japanese-market fender-mounted mirrors, which would be a must-do if it were mine.

This particular car used to wear an awesome shade of paint known as “Mach Green”, of which you can see trace elements of still hiding in the lower portions of the engine bay. The seller says the car runs and drives well enough, and Mazda’s 12A rotary motor looks complete in the photos. I don’t believe the JDM-market motor would offer any performance advantages, as the engines supplied to the U.S. and home markets both featured catalytic converters, which was certainly an improvement over the thermal reactors found on the earliest examples.

The seller will include a spare set of wheels, still wearing some very period-cool Goodyear Wingfoot tires. Interestingly, the listing descriptions seems to hint as the seller’s awareness that this RHD RX-7 is a bit of an oddity, stating, “Nothing more than an average car for the abundantly curious type…” The manuals are written entirely in Japanese and it does come with a Michigan title. As the resident RHD-car fanatic, this Savanna RX-7 is an appealing project that should absolutely be repainted its original color – but only if the seller is accepting offers of $5K or a tick lower. What do you think this Mazda’s story is?

Comments

  1. Scot Douglas

    Not only a catalytic converter, but a THERMACTOR. :D ( i think that’s what it used to be called – I had two growing up)

  2. Bob S

    Reminds me of my first new car 1979 RX7 GS that I picked up from the dealer in October of 79.

    What a poor ad, 7 pictures and about 7 sentences. Definitely need to see it if I was interested it.

    It had a color change but doesn’t show the full door openings or decent pictures of the engine compartment or side views. Can’t make a determination of how well it was painted or how its holding up. Also its 2 tone , which I did see mentioned in the ad.

    I would deduct 25% from the value because its RH drive, there hard to sell in North America.

    I wouldn’t pay more than $2 for it. RX7 don’t have the value an early Miata does.

    • Poppapork

      Bob, kids these days kill them selfs for a RHD Japanese car. JDM as frick!!

      Thr RHD factor is what will sell the car, there are whole businesses in.the states buying cars from Japan by the boat load, not only supras but 4door sedans, even tiny little trucklets with 0.66L engines…. pople go crazy JDM/RHD!

      I dont get it but whatever….

      • Fred W.

        I don’t get it either- who want’s to shift left handed, unless you were born that way…

      • Tirefriar

        Those that can swing a JDM car due to local regs (read: Kommiefornia) purchase parts from Japan to convert their US market cars into RHD and it’s not cheap. This was a hot ticket for vintage bugs at one point too

        As to why, look up first rule of customization: to be different from the rest.

      • Jeff Lavery Staff

        I didn’t set out looking for one, but own an ex-British market BMW 320 with RHD. Honestly, it is not hard at all to shift left-handed (I’m a righty) and if you can tolerate the gawker next to you in traffic, it does make the drive more fun. But I wouldn’t set out specifically to find one…this car fell in my lap.

      • Ching-A-Trailer

        RHD is no big deal, especially for “cool” cars. As far as shifting with your left hand – gee I bet you can scratch your balls with your left hand so why not shift gears? My most fun car is my RHD Cobra!!

    • Rx7turboII

      Rx7’s don’t have the value early Miata’s have??? Huh?? What stranger things upside down world do you live in Bob? Lol! A running and driving early Miata is worth maybe $2,500, a running and driving early Mazda RX-7 is worth twice that. Just My educated opinion of course…hehe

  3. Guy

    Yes I would like to know why someone wants to sell a car but doesnt put up photos on the outside of it at all? Makes ya wonder hidding dents or mega rust issues?

  4. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Mazda Savanna RX-7. I’ve always loved JDM Japanese cars. It’s a shame that they weren’t sold here in the USA during their production run. They Mazda may have needed to change a few things in order for the car to meet US safety standards, but there are some things that were offered in JDM cars for use on US market cars.

  5. BarnfindyCollins

    There was one of these offered at a salvage yard auction across from Shaw AFB in 1995. Painted white, it had its front fenders replaced with US spec ones from a metallic gold car. Not having its original fenders sorta killed my enthusiasm for it. The Triumph GT6 Mk III and Spitfire next to it rounded out the only cars I saw interesting. Speaking of grey market cars, I have found several near Air Force installations. 30 years ago we got a ’58 BMW 501 V8 and drove it back home.

  6. Rolf Poncho

    That vin SA###### code is probably a South African
    number for I hade a same model car here in S.A and
    the vin was the same and RHD

  7. Manuel

    No, SA22C is not South Africa but the internal model name for all the first series Mazda RX7 > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_RX-7#First_generation_(SA22C/FB)

  8. Pete

    Yeah, I wouldn’t want a RHD version. I had to much fun in my 79 LHD version to rewire my brain to drive one. His price is over double for what it is even given the RHD craze. I loved driving them when I owned one. Unfortunately the metal skin on these cars is like your favorite beverage can thin as could be. You could take your thumb and push a dent in it. Those Rotor seals would almost garuntee go out around 50k miles on the 12A’s. Repair cost on that was kinda steep unless you knew how to do it yourself. Today though I don’t think it is quiet as bad. You could also upgrade it to a 13B. Throw some high octane racing gas in it and look out cause you would be flying over the roads.

  9. giade FLIGHTNING

    ~ those Look Like ‘COSMIC’ Mags to me, QOOL ☉~
    RIGHT DRIVE is Cool when the Shifter is also moved over to the Right of the Pilot Chair, ‘TRACKSIDE’ Vintage Ferrari style /\/\/ ☄☄☄

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