Spannerhead Dot

Underrated Lookers:
The ’86-’91 Mazda RX-7

January 27, 2012 by Matt

Mazda RX-7 RX7 FC 2nd Gen Generation Red Turbo II 2

Overshadowed by Mazda’s later, stunning, 3rd generation rotary-powered sports car, the ’86-’91 2nd gen plays an aspirational role for many owners. Much like its contemporary from Toyota, the ’86-’92 Supra, the 2nd gen RX-7 lives in the shadow of its faster, better-looking and far more potent sequel.

That said, the FC, as it’s known, is quite a handsomely-penned car in its own right. The Porsche 944‘s shape inspired the Japanese designers, and while the 2nd gen might not be quite as baroque and sultry as its counterpart from Stuttgart, the similarities proportion-wise are evident. Notable differences include a lack of an actual quarter light for the Mazda, and its unique headlight treatment that allows flash-to-pass while the high beams are still stowed. The Japanese car features less surface detail than the 944 as well, but it displays a taut and confident—if not overly interesting—profile.

Mazda RX-7 RX7 FC 2nd Gen Generation Red GTU GTUs

Several details in particular stand out to me: The strong “keystone” of a C-pillar, the ever-so-slightly flared wheel arches, and especially the minimal thickness between the top of the front arch and the beginning of the sheet metal’s turn inward toward the hood. That last detail visually lowers the front end and gives the car an especially agile, grippy appearance.

No, even if its lines doesn’t deserve the admiration of the FD’s, the FC is a cohesive, attractive and often overlooked shape, one that I wouldn’t mind in the least to be seen behind the wheel of.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring cars whose design I find appealing, in contrast to mainstream opinion. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Mazda, Rotary, Underrated Lookers


  1. K Fox says:

    I was wondering when you’d get around to covering an FC… They are good looking in their own right, as well as quite fun cars also.

    K Fox

    • Matt says:

      Agreed. I will admit I cheated a little bit—the article covers the whole 6 years of FC production, and both pictures I chose were of the ’89-’91 “facelift” cars, with their much nicer color-keyed rub strips and gorgeous taillights. Though an ’88 Turbo II, with the polished, 7-spoke sawblades is very nice too.

      They are great cars. My best friend owned an ’86 GXL for years and let me borrow it for a few days while he was out of town. Most direct steering I’ve ever experienced in a car—the car literally rotates as fast as you can turn the wheel. I loved it.

  2. John D says:

    I stopped reading when you basically said it’s inferior to the FD in every way. But that’s coming from a former FD owner… ;)


    A little known fact is that I almost bought a FC for Kristi back when we lived in Carrboro. While knowing that I would probably never be satisfied with one myself, I did think it was an appealing car and was looking for an excuse to own one without giving up the FD. Kristi liked the idea of having a convertible FC to scoot around in…but we came to our senses and realized it wasn’t the best use of our money at the time. (Sadly enough that’s the exact reason I got rid of the ’69 Camaro. That’s simply a case of common sense getting in the way of our dreams. But, overall, I’m sure it’s better that way…)

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