1988 Mazda RX7 10AE Turbo 1.3 Intercooled turbo from North America


It's an incredible rotary rocket


When I purchased the car the engine and turbocharger required replacement. Since then, in 40,000 KM, nothing aside from tires and brakes.

General Comments:

This car is FANTASTIC. Really really fast.

Incredible handling.

Decent ride, but I'm young so I don't mind too much. My father doesn't like the ride, but it's not his car...

The rear tires seem to wear rather quickly, but with 200HP on tap it's a small wonder.

Very well balanced for a 15 year old car, the handling never ceases to amaze me. I decided to put Yokohama a032R tires on it, and boy am I glad.. The car feels like I could stick it to the ceiling of my garage.

I drove this car for about a week in the winter, and then decided to park it.. these cars are NOT fun to drive in the winter, at all. I've got a Subaru Justy for that, now.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st July, 2003

1988 Mazda RX7 Convertible Rotary from North America


Great Car


I had a 1990 RX7 and the engine locked up two weeks after an accident.

The 1990 had troubles starting.

My 1988 Convertible the clutch fluid goes down and has to be added to every month and half.

No other problems with the 88.

General Comments:

I have a 1988 RX7 convertible, this car is great for a person without children. The car is small, fast, looks great and only has two seats. Mine has a K&N air filter system with performance exhaust. Affordable price (usually under $5000) vs. what you get make this a great economical sports car. Just be sure to take care of the rotary engine and learn what not to do with it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2003

1988 Mazda RX7 Base SE 1.3L Rotary (13B) from North America


Rotary performance costs $$$


Keep in mind this car is designed with performance in mind and things like reliability are secondary (like it or not).

Here are some inherent weaknesses:

(1) Overheating. By design the rotary engine puts out a lot of heat to put out the high horsepower with a small displacement. This is just how the engine was designed. The banana shaped combustion chamber is just not as thermally efficient as pistons. So Mazda put in stuff like oil coolers, big factory radiators, 3 catalytic converters, and air pump to address this and the emissions problem. Funny thing is these are still trouble spots. The oil line leaks, clutch fan no longer works, and water jacket blows, are examples of this. Next thing you know you need a new engine because it is blowing out coolant. It is imperative that the oiling and cooling system is kept in good shape in these cars. They are more sensitive to these failures than piston engines.

(2) Flooding. This will leave you stranded and will eat several batteries and starters in the process. It happens when you start the car, then shut it down without it properly warming up. There are lots of discussions on this topic, but it is definitely annoying. You basically have to purge all the fuel by removing spark plugs, cranking several times to purge fuel, reinstall plugs, crank again, etc.. There are detail procedures in several websites, but anyone owning a 2nd gen will know what I am talking about. This is definitely pathetic in the age of sure fire fuel injection.

(3) Clutch pilot bearing. This needle bearing has no inner race and actually rides on the input shaft of the transmission. As a result, if you ride the clutch a lot, then it will eventually fail and you won't be able to shift into gear. I blame this on bad design of transmission. It would have been actually more reliable to put a bushing in there instead (as other manufactures do) or better yet put in a real bearing.

(4) Hard shifting transmission/bad gears. Again bad design. This applies to all non-turbo transmissions. Mazda basically carried over the transmission from the 1st gen (a lighter car) without a new redesign. You can tell because there are a lot of similarities like same input shaft diameters and same needle pilot bearing. Well when you use a design meant for a lighter car and use it on a heavier car, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that there will be problems down the road. Let's just say that the transmission needed work before 100k miles. Note this is a separate issue from the pilot bearing one.

(5) Electrical... stuff like Logicon and CPU can be on the fritz due too bad solder joints.

(6) Window wiper intermittent no good due to a bad relay. This can be a problem because state inspections require them to work at all speeds (stupid law).

(7) Bad trim. The window sill trims tend to rust. The inside overhead trim cracks.

(8) Sucks up a lot of gas. Engine is again inefficient. They say it'll get better with the upcoming Renesis engine, but we'll see.

Conclusion: You would have to be an enthusiast to put up with the many quirks of RX7s.

General Comments:

Car itself is good, but I question the drive train reliability. The bad transmission design did not help either.

Once it is running it's very fun though. Not for a non-mechanic however unless it has very low miles.

Can't compare to a old piston engine in terms of reliability and practicality. That is also why you see people converting these things with V8s. Rebuilding rotaries are not cheap either.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th January, 2003

5th Aug 2003, 16:08

It sounds to me like this poor fellow has purchased a junk car, which is going to be trouble from the start. Wankel rotary engines are extremely reliable if they are properly maintained. My '88 GXL presently has 159K miles on it and is still running quite well, has never over heated, gets 25 mpg consistently on average, and has never had a transmission or clutch problem out of the ordinary (the clutch was replaced). I have yet to own a "boinger" that is as reliable and trust-worthy as my "7" and I have owned Fords & Chevys to top of the line Cadillacs. I go on a trip, I'll take the RX-7! I know I will get back without being towed or fixed!