Your definitive Mazda RX-7 FD buyers guide


The third-generation Mazda RX-7—also known by its internal designation FD or FD3S—is one of the most arrestingly beautiful shapes to have ever escaped a Japanese design studio. When it went on sale in the early ’90s, its flowing lines stood in stark contrast not just to the more boxy wedge offered by the previous version of the car, but also the more aggressively linear look of rivals like the Acura NSX and the Mitsubishi 3000GT.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/05/08/fd-mazda-rx-7-buyers-guide

Very well-written and comprehensive article, and I thank Mr. Hunting for including a couple of quotes from me. I would note that our 1994 “PEG” Chaste White, bought new as stated, had (and still has) no rear wing. Our car went 113K miles before requiring a new engine, due to a coolant seal leak allowing combustion products to leak into the cooling system. Overall we have found this car to be a pleasure to own and drive.


This is perhaps the best article written yet on the FD. It’s good to see people talking about these cars as being able to be fairly reliable if well-maintained and it really goes into the things that need to be done to keep these running well over time. In particular the focus on making sure you have non-synthetic oils going into the combustion chamber. Also good to see Hagerty more or less blessing cars that have “reliability modifications” as acceptable in the context of buying stock unmolested cars. The community has long identified these as being necessary to the long term well-being of the FD.


My silver FD has not been driven much. It now has 3300 miles on it. I bought it new in Quincy, Ma. back in 1994. I wanted red leather, but settled on black. It has a steel sunroof. It’s time for me to start parting ways with my toys because I either look silly driving them or in the case of my Ducati 1199r, they are just too fast for me. I got warnings last summer in NH by NH State Troopers. It’s time for me to start acting my age. I’m glad to see the price on a rare example is in the mid 30’s. I’m looking to get mine sold for $38K. Anyone would be hard pressed to find one that has been stored inside with only 3300 miles on it.


Some useful and helpful information? …absolutely. And the attention theses cars are getting is welcome. But “definitive” is an over-reach IMO. Interesting that with some well respected U.S. based rotary shops the article cites opinions from a Canadian shop which aren’t universally shared by many of us long-term owners and other shops. I recommend anyone considering one of these cars also look for the buyer’s guides available in forums like rx7club.com.

And @fredwhyzer you have my sympathy. You’ve owned your car for a quarter-century and haven’t REALLY enjoyed it. It’s quite possible I’m older than you and I do act my age. Our time here is relatively short. These days I don’t buy cars for garage trophies or investment… but to drive and enjoy them.


@Jim-R Thanks (as always) for the thoughtful replies. The author in this case is Canadian, thus the Canadian shop for reference.

The good news is we can update the story to make it better. In terms of getting the article closer to “definitive” I would love to hear your advice, either in the comments or a DM.


Hey Fred - might we talk about your RX-7? I am interested. 3letter (at) gmail .com


*A little closer oil change intervals are advisable. But it’s not just because a small amount of oil is injected into the combustion chamber. It’s also because almost every rotary I’ve had experience with suffers from a little fuel dilution over time. Despite this, the rotary engine suffers from few oil related failures. And I think it’s split pretty much down the middle among long time owners on the Mineral vs. Synthetic oil question. Yes, synthetic doesn’t burn as well, but it does burn and it’s a very small amount. And remember this is a engine has two journal bearing turbos. It’s here that synthetic oil’s heat tolerance and shear properties can excel. I wouldn’t be dissuaded on a car regardless of the type of oil the owner used.
*All the heat related “reliability” modifications I agree with. What I don’t remember being mentioned is frequent coolant changes. It’s a bi-metal engine block. Coolant goes acidic over time. The engine has soft seals…the rotary’s version of a head gasket. Serious overheating of the engine and coolant neglect can lead to their failure which IMO is responsible for at least as many engine overhauls as worn or stuck hard seals.
*Another thing I may have missed in the article is mention of the OEM engine mounts. They’re rubber and tend to weaken and fail with age. The early production cars (93) were especially prone to failure because of an arm design that was improved in later models. Check for unusual movement of the shifter on acceleration/deacceleration. Aftermarket mounts are available that are very close to OEM in NVH and can be changed by most do it yourselfer’s.
*As was common on many cars of that era, the stock temperature gauge is NOT linear. If you’re going to drive the car, along with a boost gauge, add an aftermarket temperature gauge. For the more ambitious, the stock gauge can also be linearized.
*I disagree with changing the engine wire harness unless there’s a demonstrable need. A new harness is expensive, IIRC well over $1000 and changing it with the engine in the car is NOT a walk in the park. Labor for that would probably double the cost. If the engine is out and the harness is off, it’s tedious but not difficult to check continuity of a harness and re-wrap using modern materials. Things like injector pigtails are also available and easily changed.


I don’t think anyone mentioned that the stock intercooler is just about worthless! I think the best upgrade is an aftermarket intercooler. Also a “downpipe” wrapped in asbestos-like material greatly reduces engine heat. By the way, the BEST RX 7 shop anywhere is Excellent Performance, Rivera Beach, Florida. 561-844-2258.

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It isn’t the best design. And it is small. In fairness we have to remember it’s 30 year old technology. The biggest nag I had with it is that the duct scavenged air from the IC to the intake. That can be remedied and remain invisible, so if the owner wants to appear “stock”, he can while improving both the intercooler and intake’s performance. And yes, header-wrap can help a lot with underhood temperatures…and the baking of all the plastics. A TRUE original FD RX7 even had a pre-cat in the downpipe. It was likely mandated by CARB standards for cold start and designed to heat up almost instantly. In addition to being an underhood oven broiler, they had a history of collapsing and plugging the main cat, which caused a lot of problems. Replacing the pre-cat with a decent aftermarket downpipe and then having it heat-coated or wrapped was a win/win. A reliability mod AND a performance mod, as it aided spool up.