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The Mazda RX-7's 40th Birthday Makes Us Clamor For A Rotary Revival

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Three generations of the RX-7. One for the RX-8. How about an RX-9?

In 1978 Mazda launched the first generation RX-7 rotary-engined sports car, immediately helping the Japanese automaker further establish its driver's car reputation. The MX-5 Miata wouldn't debut for another 11 years. Today, Mazda is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original RX-7 (codenamed FB) as well as the second and third generation models, all of which have achieved icon status. Back in the 70s, global automakers were dealing with a global fuel crisis, forcing them to cut back on powerful, V8-engined sports cars and muscle cars.

Example: the Mustang II. So Mazda figured the high gas prices also presented an opportunity. The result was a smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient sports car. One of the many good things about the RX-7's rotary engine is that its design allowed it to be mounted lower and further back, resulting in better handling.

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Sure enough, it was an instant sales hit, selling some 470,000 units before the second generation 'FC' turbocharged RX-7 arrived in 1985. In 1992, the third and last generation 'FD' RX-7 debuted and remained in production until 2002. The RX-8 replaced it the following year. Car and Driver also placed the RX-7 on its Ten Best cars, five times over the years. The RX-7 also competed in motorsport and won, as just one example, the 1981 24 Hours of Spa. To celebrate the RX-7's big 4-0, Mazda produced a cool video highlighting all three RX-7 generations. Now, how about an RX-9, Mazda?

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