These days, enthusiasts are begging Mazda to make one more step in its Wankel revival plan, taking the rotary engine from its newfound range extender role to an electric crossover to a means of propulsion, as it used to be back in the day. Speaking of how Mazda rolled decades ago, we’ve brought along a first-generation RX-7 that likes to visit the drag strip and give big, bad muscle cars a taste of the brap-brap medicine.
The OG RX-7 wasn’t Mazda’s first Wankel sports car—that title went to the Cosmo in the 1960s (and this ND-gen Miata is a tribute to it with a crazy retro-modern body kit). However, the first-gen RX-7 marked a switch to a more dynamic approach, with this being built between 1978 and 1985.
The example we have here is not the original Series 1, but a 1980s model, not that it would make that much of a difference, since this machine has been thoroughly modded, even though you wouldn’t necessarily guess it by the appearance of the car.
From the outside, the limited clues towards the newfound motivation of the vehicle are the drag pack-type wheels, which involve fat-section Mickey Thompson tires at the back and skinny units up front, and the exhaust pipe that seems to be the side type, albeit handing out discreetly under the car.
Modded David vs. stock Goliath
We’re not sure about the output of the Japanese sleeper, but this thing doesn’t even need all that much power to make a mark. That’s because, in stock trim, a first-gen RX-7 tips the scales somewhere at 2,400 lbs (1,090 kg), roughly half the weight of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody it went up against.
The supercharged 6.2L HEMI-powered Mopar completed the quarter-mile close to its factory number (judging by this drag strip figure, it looks like we’re dealing with the 797 hp Redeye range-topper here), but this wasn’t the only opponent of the Mazda.
During its recent visit to the Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida, which was caught on camera by the YouTuber behind the Drag Racing and Car Stuff label, the Mazda also duked it out with a current-generation Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. As with the Dodge, the Chevy, which is animated by a supercharged 6.2L V8 making 650 hp, also performed as expected for a non-modded machine.
The first-gen Mazda RX-7 also seemed to one-up its muscle car competitors in terms of the decibels—some will prefer the S/C V8 soundtrack of the Americana, though—with the small coupe’s Wankel shriek dominating the entire location. And this only makes us wonder what the five-rotor engine Kiwi pro drifter Mad Mike is building will sound like.