Stored Under A Blankie: 1979 Mazda RX-7

According to the seller of this low-mileage first-generation RX-7, the car has been lovingly kept in a garage under a blankie which is the reason for its pristine condition.  With only 67,000 miles this fun to drive classic can be yours for $15,000 (more on the asking price in a minute!).  Located in Johnstown, New York and listed for sale on Craigslist, have you ever seen one this nice?

The seller claims the car is in great condition but I beg to differ; using the word great to describe this Mazda’s exterior is an understatement!  I think words like immaculate, flawless, or mint would more accurately describe the car.  The paint looks crisp and the only imperfection I can see is what appears to be a small dent just below the handle on the rear hatch glass.  It’s obvious this RX-7 has been sheltered from nasty Northeast salt and snow.

The seller fails to provide us with a photo of the RX-7’s 1.1 liter Wankel rotary engine, and that’s a let-down.  According to Motortrend.com, the RX-7’s carbureted Wankel produced 100 hp allowing it to go from 0-60 mph in less than 10 seconds.  An interesting fact: the rotary engine runs so smoothly and quietly that Mazda installed an over-rev alarm that beeps once the car’s driver approaches its 7,000 rpm redline.  This RX-7 comes nicely equipped with an optional 5-speed manual transmission.  Its seller describes it as fun to drive which is a well-known mantra repeated by just about anyone who has ever owned an RX-7.  I find Mazda’s modern-day “Zoom-Zoom” marketing slogan to be a bit childish, but as a Mazda owner myself (albeit a 3 model and not an RX), I can attest to the company’s engineering know-how when it comes to making cars that are sporty to drive and can handle the curviest of roads without exception.

Wow! Check out the car’s interior looking just as crisp, clean, and new as the exterior does.  No doubt, this RX-7 has been babied but the seller’s $15K asking price is definitely ambitious.  There’s been an uptick in the value of RX-7s in recent years with some even commanding prices in the $20K range.  As a well-preserved first-generation RX-7 this one is certainly very desirable and who knows, maybe someone will pay the seller close to what he’s asking.  But if you don’t want to overspend and you have the patience to keep looking, you should be able to find a nice one for perhaps as low as $5,000-$6,000.  What do you think of this mint condition Mazda?

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Comments

  1. healeydays

    OMG, that is the twin brother of my 1st Rx7 which I bought October 1978. Great car

    5
  2. h5mind

    Have owned several and they are certainly fun to drive. I still remember how the Japanese leather smelled on a hot day (a Japanese friend of mine called it, “fish leather”. They also gulp fuel like a V-8 and do not like being left unused for more than a few days at a time, as the apex seals shrink and then they refuse to start due to low compression. If in the market for an immaculate example of Wankel’s finest, I’d opt for the RX-7 convertible, which was a very luxurious car at the time. I imagine both models will be $25K cars before long.

    3
    • Rodger G.

      The apex seals don’t shrink, the low compression issue is caused by carbon build up over time, which will eventually cause the side seals and corners seals to stick. This usually doesn’t happen until something over 100k miles. Clean oil is important on these because of the oil injection system. A well maintained 12A will usually wear out the rotor housings at about 150k miles before having starting issues due to carbon build up. Price wise it is aggressive, but prices for really nice 1st gens have been rising quickly, and much like the 240Z, this will probably look like a good deal in a couple of years.

      6
    • JMB#7

      I don’t know what I am doing right, but I am over 130k miles and have never had any of these issues. Starts quickly, hot or cold. after sitting for weeks, 3 pumps of the gas, hold to the floor, choke out crank & release gas pedal, fires right up. As for fuel economy, always around 22 mpg, and frequently see 7k rpm (maybe a little more sometimes). Oh yes, and have I ever mentioned that I drove one once that had over 300k miles and had never been rebuild? I guess I just lucky with the silly triangular motor.

      8
  3. John G

    Just wanted to chime in! I’ve got an 84 model which is the first year of the fuel injected 13B engine (but same body) and that little notch or “dent” at the rear center of the hatch is actually a little hand cup so you can lift the lid once it’s popped. This car is immaculate! But I’ve yet to see one go for 15K.

    8
    • Jay B Jay B Staff

      Thanks for clarifying that John G! After I wrote the post I went back and looked at the photos and was wondering if that was, in fact, a dent after all!

      1
  4. Robbie R.

    I also bought one of these in early 79. I had one of the first units delivered in Columbia SC. I put the deposit down for the order and waited almost 3 months for it to come in. It drove and handled great. Unfortunately, I experienced a couple of mechanical problems with it right out of the gate that the local dealer couldn’t resolve. Fed up with it, I sold it after owning it for only 3 months.

  5. ccrvtt

    I had a ’79 that had been rode hard and put up wet that I got with an alleged 18,000 miles on it in 1982. By the time I sold it the clock read about 50K and it was evident that some of the original power was lacking.

    I take issue with the seller saying that it’s fun to drive. That has to be one of the grossest understatements of all time. This is one of those cars by which all others shall be judged for all time. It shares equal status with my ’69 MGB and my current C6 in smiles per mile. This is sports car royalty.

    3
    • JMB#7

      They are more fun than “a barrel full of monkeys”. To this day, I still do not understand why Mazda did not offer a Miata with a rotary. Sure you can build your own, and maybe someday I will. But for now I am still enjoying an ’82 RX7 that has be extremely reliable, and cheap to operate.

      2
  6. Navi318

    These cars can be built from scrap for half that price the way you’d want it. The 12a is a high revving piece of machinery. When mine sat, i’d pour some marvel mystery oil down the carb to seal the apex’s, once it started, after a some hefty smoking, they’re fine. Really clean, nicely kept car, but I can just think of plenty other really nice rides to spend 15 grand on then this RX. I’m just sayin

    2
  7. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Nice car, but I am struggling with the color.

    So many other paint options were available, this one hits me wrong.

    Maybe that would make it more rare? Even at half the price, I couldn’t drive it, sorry.

    2
    • Robbie R.

      There weren’t too many color options back in the day for this first year intro. I don’t remember seeing many yellow ones. There was a light blue color that seemed to be pretty popular, and also silver and a burnt orange. Mine was regular bright red, probably the most popular color of the day.

      4
  8. Marathon06

    This is a lovely example, very nice condition and well maintained but the market is simply nowhere near $15k for an ’79 RX-7 with 63k miles. Value is more likely in the $5-7,000 range. Several of these vintage RX-7’s have been sold on BAT with less miles and in similar condition in that range. Good luck to the Seller!

    2
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking Mk1 Mazda RX-7. I remember when I first saw one like this. I have a cousin who drove one back in the day. I thought it was better looking than either the 626 or the GLC sold around that time. I also find the car more attractive than today’s Mazdas.

    2
  10. Wayne

    Great car. I have never owned one, but have driven several. I could easily be persuaded to purchase one at the right price and condition.
    The “Rev Beeper” was not just for the RX7. RX 2s and RX3s had them also.

    1
  11. Cobra

    84, 85 GSL-SE be the one to have with the higher output motor!

    1
  12. Louis Q Chen

    The price is a little high! Mazda was very stubborn in trying to perfect the Wankel! I’m sure they put lots of their resources into this endeavor but to no avail. Felix Wankel did a good job in making a fairly simple engine but it was too not enogh. it was a gas guzzler and seal issues.
    I was given one and had to rebuild the engine and was amazed as how easy it was to rebuilt. I kept it humming until a friend of mine bought it. If you look at the front end, it reminded me of the Toyota Supra except it was shorter. Good little sports car though.

    1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      It is indeed high. The most I’d be willing to pay would be just shy of $8,000. But then that’s my budget.

      2
  13. Mountainwoodie

    From the cheap seats: How does a Japanese car survive in the Northeast and look this good? Was the car up on blocks in a climate controlled garage? Just amazing.

    I always liked the looks of these.

    Maybe all the knowledgeable Mazdaites can chime in. After 40 years with such low mileage and being used intermittently will this not have the same problems as a conventional engine..at least to the issue of seals etc. There seems to be some disagreement above as to what might happen.

    I always heard these were fuel pigs. Yes, No or in between? How about the next generation with a different body style?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    4
  14. jimmy the orphan

    I had a 1980 black on black. I was the 2nd owner. It was in great shape and ran very well. This was in 2006 and was the first rotor motor I ever had. I learned very quickly just what I had been missing. That little thing was so much fun I drove it every day I could for close to four years. I remember replacing the master cycl. clutch slave, and the rad. Brakes, tires but nothing major.Mine had the 4spd. so the gas mi. was maybe not so good. I never checked it. I don’t care about gas mi. all most all the cars I own get very poor mi. If it gets low put in more gas . simple. If I lived back east I would even consider paying the top price. Ones in this kind of shape are very rare and the prices will go up and up.Cars are not a cheap business or hobby .Somebody try 9k and go from there you might be surprised. JIMMY

    4
  15. bog

    Superb example. I agree that this RX was babied, perhaps climate-controlled garage was what it lived in much of the year. Mine was an ’83 I had the dealer locate as he had a metallic black one with black leather and my girlfriend had a dream I’d be killed in it. So, he found me an Aztec Gold one, with brown cloth/leatherette. Loved it. Wouldn’t call it a gas-guzzler, but then most of my cars didn’t “sip” gas. Low-end torque was kinda sad, but once going…zooooom ! And go kart like handling. I was not a fan of the bumpers, nor rear treatment on these older models, but that’s my taste. One Winter mine had to be outside and the mechanic that came when it was about 5 below poured reg 5W30 down 4BBL pulled out choke & cranked the heck out of it. NO GAS. He said that would go right into oil pan and really wreck it. Started up & having learned that trick, never had issues again. Sold it to a racer in ’98.

    2
  16. Wayne

    The RX2s and RX3s (and maybe even the RX4s) actually had a reservoir to spray fluid into the carb/intake system to help sealing on cold starts. (kind of like your oil story) The fluid was COOLANT! (as in ethylene glycol!) The supply tank looked like a small coolant reservoir with a washer pump style pump attached to the side. Anything to bridge the gap between apex seals and rotor housings to create compression.

    1
    • JMB#7

      My 1982 RX7 has the cold weather starter fluid reservoir. Yes, it is ethylene glycol mixture. I do think there is something to the theory of holding the gas down when first cranking (like you would do on any flooded engine) and then letting off gently as soon as it starts cranking. The theory is that this lets it take in a big gulp of air initially. Regardless of theory & proof, it does work.

      1
      • bog

        JMB#7 – I know what you’re talking about, as I’ve seen them. Here, oddly, it was part of a “Cold Weather Package” which I believe also included a fitting into the “keg” to keep the oil more fluid. Neither the Black RX, nor the Gold one I bought had that reservoir. Perhaps the change was for ’83 ? I’ll check my Chilton’s when I get around to it. I had a long talk with the guy that started mine, and then a guy that raced and restored them, and they were adamant about NOT putting any gas when trying to crank them in cold weather. I hired the racer to “soup” up my engine and put in a lighter racier clutch, flywheel, and transmission. Only real problem with mine was starters. Over 15 years it “ate” four of them. Grateful they were easy to take off and put on. Did them in my driveway !

        1
  17. JMB#7

    Bog: My ’83 originated from a dealership in NY State, so it would be probable that the starter fluid tank was part of a Cold Weather Package. I am the third owner, and my brother was the second owner, so we know must of the history very well. I have replaced the radiator, oil cooler, clutch, transmission mount, ignition coils (with MSD Blaster), and shock (with Tokico blues). Beyond that it has just been, oil changes, tires, cap & rotor & plugs, some tie rod ends, ball joints, and of course tires & brakes. Awesome car, and fun to drive.

    2
    • bog

      JMB#7 – Sounds like the two of you really are caring for it very well. The dealership where I bought mine wanted me to “spring” for Zeibart rustproofing, which I declined. When I let it go to the racer, it was starting to rust along the door bottoms. Even though it was in a heated garage almost it’s entire life with me, and wasn’t a full-time car by any means, it was used in the Winter and we salt like crazy here in Chicagoland. My one way trip to work was 33 miles…took me 3.75 hours to get home one snowstorm. I was likely 5 lbs lighter ! Only time I didn’t appreciate it’s light weight….as it “crabbed” on crowned roads, so lots of gentle steering inputs….

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