In 1993, I was listening to Whoomp! (There It Is) on my Sony Walkman and playing Mortal Kombat on my Sega Genesis.
Getting my driver’s licence was years away, but I had a poster of the 1993 Mazda RX-7 on the wall in my bedroom, too.
That year, the RX-7 was being sold as Mazda’s $45,000-plus flagship sports car. This machine is largely regarded as the highest-performing street-legal Mazda ever made.
It’s also the source of that “Zoom-Zoom” DNA present in Mazda’s products to this day.
This was a special car for the Japanese automaker —and largely the reason that Mazda stashed one brand-new, bright yellow, un-modified unit away at their head office for two decades.
For a time, it was even parked in the front lobby —the same front lobby I walked into to pick up my first ever test-car (a Mazda MX-5) seven years ago. So, effectively, this particular yellow RX-7 watched from a few feet away as I started my career reviewing cars.
Recently, I had the rare chance to realize achildhood dream and spend a week driving this exact RX-7. Sentimental value? Very much. A supercomputer-designed suspension, lightweight hollow sway-bars and four-wheel ABS brakes were advanced for their time. Ditto the sophisticated, sequential twin-turbo setup — which helped the 1.3-litre rotary engine generate 255 horsepower and 217 lb.-ft of torque.
Two turbochargers meant two boosts of power smoothly merging with one another — perceived by the driver as virtually lag-free torque from just beyond idle to just shy of the 7,500 r.p.m. redline. This is the sort of technical, mechanical wizardry that makes excited aspiring car fanatics salivate.
Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed manual were standard. All said, it was fast by standards of its day, and is still quick and potent 20 years later.
At full rip, torsos are pressed into seatbacks as the persistent whistling of the turbochargers enters the cabin — which is sweet.
The rotary engine’s compact size allowed it to be mounted behind the front axle, helping with a 50/50 weight balance. Handling response is instant, direct, and surprisingly heavy and locked-on despite the size of the car.
I couldn’t bring myself to drive this classic aggressively, but the eagerness and agility can be felt at every touch of the wheel.
Without the distractions of modern day gadgets and safety gear, RX-7’s engineers could focus purely on the driving experience.
This was a car from an era where focusing on the driving experience was a very big deal.
And now, even two decades later, it still drops the jaws of people half its age.
And the jaws of folks like me who had a poster of it on their bedroom wall when they were a kid.