The Mazda RX-7 is an excellent drift car because of its rear wheel drive limited slip differential configuration, near perfect 50-50 weight distribution, light weight, powerful twin turbo 13B-REW rotary engine, low center of gravity, and sport tune suspension.
Youichi Imamura drove the A’PEXi sponsored Mazda RX-7 FD3S to a championship win during the 2003 D1 Grand Prix Season. Although all three generations of the Mazda RX-7 can drift, the FD or third generation is the most popular RX-7 for drifting. Within the FD generation, there are three series of RX-7s:
- Series 6 (1992 – 1995) This is the only group of the RX-7 FDs sold in North America. In Japan, Mazda sold the 6 Series RX-7 under its Efini brand name as the Efini RX-7. Series 6 came with 230hp and 200ft-lbs.
- Series 7 (1996 – 1998) All 7 series RX-7s are right-hand-drive. In Japan, Mazda decided to sell the 7 Series RX-7 under the Mazda brand name instead of Efini. The Series 7 was sold in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Updates include a simplified vacuum routing manifold and a 16-bit ECU that increased boost and gave the rotary engine an extra 10 horsepower.
- Series 8 (January 1999 – August 2002) The 8 series RX-7 was the final RX-7 built by Mazda and was only available in Japan. More efficient turbochargers and a revised engine bay allowed for improved intercooler and radiator cooling. The seats, steering wheel, front and rear lights were all changed and an adjustable rear wing was added.
The “Type RZ” variant included all the features of the Type RS, but boasted an even lighter vehicle weight of 1270 kg (2800 lbs). It also featured custom gun-metal BBS wheels and a custom red racing themed interior. Further upgrades included a new 16-bit ECU and ABS system upgrades.
The most collectible RX-7s are the last 1,500 built. Dubbed the “Spirit R”, these RX-7s combined all the additional features Mazda had used on previous limited-run specials. All 1,500 Spirit RX-7s sold within days of being announced and they still command amazing prices in the Japanese used car market.
In Japan, the RX-7 has been a popular choice for racing teams. In 2006, the RE Amemiya Racing AsparaDrink RX-7 FD3S won the Super GT300 class championship.
The RX-7 has appeared in the Japanese anime series, Initial D, driven by both Takahashi brothers - Keisuke and Ryosuke, Keisuke driving a yellow twin-turbo FD3S and Ryosuke driving a white FC3S. Also Kyoko, the girl that likes Keisuke, drives a black single turbo RX-7 FD3S.
The RX-7 FD has also been featured in every film in the Fast and the Furious franchise. In the latest Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, a highly modified Veilside RX-7 was featured as one of the stars. Veilside built three duplicate RX-7s for the film while the Tokyo Drift shop built three visual clones — including one destined for destruction using a Mazda RX-7 that appeared in both previous Fast and Furious films as its base.
A popular modification to the RX-7 FD is a Mazda 20B engine swap. The main difference between the 13G and 20B is that the 13G uses a factory peripheral intake port and the 20B uses side intake ports. Besides that, the 20B is a 2.0L 3-rotor engine only used in the 1990-1995 Eunos (Mazda) Cosmo. The 20B 3-rotor configuration can produce up to 550 horsepower and a top speed over 200 mph with aftermarket performance parts. Still, RX-7 enthusiasts maintain that the 13B engine can achieve the same level of performance as the 20B, but the difference is in reliability since the 20B engine can handle the higher horsepower more effortlessly.