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Rotary Barn Find: 1983 Mazda RX7 GSL

The FB-chassis Mazda RX-7 is an emerging classic, albeit one that hasn’t quite accelerated value-wise as the second and third-generation models. The rotary-powered coupe is certainly a major achievement on the sports car landscape, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to becoming an instant collector’s item. That hasn’t stopped sellers of barn find examples like this 1983 RX-7 GSL from asking real money for their non-running projects, as he’s looking for $10,000 here on Facebook Marketplace for a car that will at the very least need its fuel system rebuilt.

The seller claims this RX-7 was stored indoors for many years by the original owner, who likely didn’t use it very much if the fuel system is shot. The GSL isn’t the most desirable spec, not by a longshot. The one to buy (and possibly pay $10,000 for a barn find example) is the GSL-SE. The GSL is a pretty standard-issue car in terms of equipment, with a carbureted 12A engine that generates about 100 b.h.p. The wheels are 13-inch and I believe the rear brakes are still drums. The GSL-SE features numerous upgrades, including a 135-horsepower fuel-injected 13B engine and four-wheel disc brakes.

The Mazda reportedly has just 71K miles on the clock, which certainly puts it on the low side. Still, the condition isn’t mind-blowingly nice. It’s clean, yes, but the presentation suggests it’s just a used car. The RX-7 interior is one of those cars, fortunately, that has a hard-wearing cabin, meaning you can detail this cockpit to look far nicer than it does right now. Shampoo the carpets and seats, re-dye the floormats, and get some trim restorer on the center console/armrest, and this RX-7 barn find will look so much better. Hopefully, its years of storage in Maine didn’t lead to rodents finding their way inside.

The car’s paintwork appears to be in good shape, even if the copper (or “burnt gold”) color scheme isn’t the most desirable shade for a sports car. The seller’s storage arrangement is interesting; the Mazda appears to be in a large garage or barn with several ordinary commuter vehicles. As is the case with many barn finds, the car was likely brought home and parked while the seller decided whether he was going to use the car for himself or just flip it on to the next guy. It is a pain to drop the gas tank and have it cleaned out, but it’s also a vote of confidence for any potential buyers that the seller feels like the car is otherwise worthy of such an investment of time and money. And if you don’t want to do that work, then it has to get listed with a price that reflects this.


  1. Joe

    Without compression numbers, you are taking a big risk.

    Like 3
  2. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I don’t know about the 83s but my 84 GSL has 4 wheel disc brakes. In addition, you can heat up that 4 barrel Nikki carb considerably and get some pretty hot performance out of the 12A engine. This one is pretty basic. Mine has a leather interior and 2 sun roofs (including a glass moon roof). The asking price is ridiculous. $3-4K if there’s no rust and the engine isn’t frozen. If the mileage is accurate, and the engine is sealed, the rotor seals should be okay.

    Like 1
  3. JMB#7

    The low miles are in it’s favor if it was stored properly. The 12A is a very reliable motor and should give many more miles. The price would be a good starting point if the fuel system were already addressed. My advice to the seller would be to take care of the fuel system which should not cost much in parts. Then they could be justified in asking $10k and maybe settling for $7k. If anyone thinks they can find one that appears to be in this (body & paint) shape for under $5k, then they should share those examples. Prices are starting to increase on these. I still drive my 1982 GS with 132k miles, same color as this car. Mine has drum brakes on the rear and I see no need to change that.

    Like 1
    • Joe

      A seized engine, rust in the housing from a coolant seal failure, will doom the engine.

      • JMB#7

        I hear what you are saying. But the only coolant seal I ever had fail was the one leading to the intake manifold. That just leaks on the ground until you replace the intake gaskets. Maybe I am just lucky. I suppose that it would be good advice to pressure test the cooling system prior to cranking it over for even a compression test. Pre-lube thru the spark plug holes as well.

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