Unique JDM

Mazda RX-7 Spirit R – The Unique JDM RX-7 Model

The standard Mazda RX-7 is a legendary car in itself, but there was something even better, a JDM model exclusively sold on the Japanese domestic market known as the Mazda RX-7 Spirit R.

The third generation RX-7 was launched in 1992 and is known as the FD or FD3S. This generation was to become the last RX-7 in the lineup and has become incredibly well-known for its peculiar exterior design and extraordinary-sounding rotary Wankel engine.

Despite only having a 1.3L engine, the RX-7 utilized a sequential twin-turbocharging system with one turbocharger providing boost from 1,800 RPM and the second turbocharger providing boost and full throttle at around 4,000 RPM. This setup allowed the RX-7 to produce between 250-276 hp despite its lack of displacement.

And while Japanese sports cars at the time were limited to 280 hp due to the ‘Gentlemen’s agreement’ there were other ways to improve performance. This was shown in the Spirit R which was a top-of-the-line performance model, only sold for the Japanese market.

Produced in a limited amount

The Spirit R was special in many ways. One thing that makes them so special is that they were only available in a very limited amount, in fact, a total of 1,504 units were only produced.

There were five different color choices, and out of the 1,504 the following colors were manufactured:

  • Brilliant Black – 172 units
  • Innocent Blue – 217 units
  • Pure White – 317 units
  • Titanium Grey – 719 units
  • Vintage Red – 79 units

Out of the entire production batch, about 50% were painted in Titanium Grey whereas only about 5% were painted in Vintage Red, making it the rarest color for the Spirit R.

Mazda RX-7 Spirit R – Vintage Red

Three Versions of the Spirit R – Type A, Type B, Type C

The Mazda RX-7 Spirit R was actually available in three different layouts known as Type A, Type B, and Type C.

The Type A was the two-seater version that came available with a 5-speed manual transmission, 1,044 Type A’s were produced.

The Type B shared all the features of the Type A, except it came with a 2+2 seat configuration, 420 Type B’s were produced.

The Type C is perhaps the least desirable of the bunch. This version featured a four-speed automatic transmission. 40 Type C’s were produced making it the rarest out of all the models.

Interior upgrades

The Mazda RX-7 Spirit R wasn’t just special in terms of rarity, it also featured a variety of different interior upgrades that the regular RX-7 did not come available with.

At a first glance what may catch your eye is the red stitching featured throughout the entire interior of the Spirit R which was exclusive to the Spirit R.

You would also notice the beautiful ‘Nardi’ branded leather steering wheel which also featured the same red stitching. This steering wheel was actually 10mm narrower at 370mm compared to 380mm in the standard model.

Various Spirit R logos and branding can be found throughout the interior such as the tachometer or floor mats.

Perhaps the most desirable feature of the Spirit R’s interior is the incredibly good-looking Red carbon Kevlar Recaro bucket seats which were unique to the RX-7 Spirit R.

Exterior upgrades

In terms of exterior upgrades, there weren’t really any extraordinary changes done to the Spirit R.

The most prominent difference from the standard model would be the gorgeous 17” forged BBS wheels which came wrapped in Potenza S07 tires – 235/45/R17 (front) 255/40/R17 (rear).

Behind the side indicators, a small ‘Spirit R RX-7’ logo can be found.

Besides the unique exterior colors available which we mentioned earlier, the Spirit R also came available with Red brake calipers.

Performance

The Spirit R featured the same 1.3L (13B-REW) rotary engine as in the standard model and produced at peak power 276hp @ 6,500 RPM and 314 Nm of torque @ 5,000 RPM. And because the Spirit R was a later model year it also featured various upgrades such as a 2.1 times larger airbox, 1.8 times larger oil cooler, and other small upgrades.

But let’s talk about what was unique to the Spirit R.

The two largest performance differences with the Spirit R were that it came with Bilstein shock absorbers along with a hard type torsion LSD which allowed the Spirit R to not only put the power down smoother but also handle significantly better.

Because the Spirit R was manufactured with the intention of being driven hard, Mazda provided the Spirit R with some 314mm (12,4”) drilled brake rotors which helped with cooling during intensive braking.

The Spirit R also came with dual oil coolers and a front under-body plastic diffuser/cover to better help with the airflow.

One way to truly know whether you’re faced with a ‘real’ Spirit R is the weight. An original Spirit R (Type A) weighs in at 1,280 kg whereas a standard RX-7 weighs in at 1,300kg. The Type B and Type C weighs in at 1,290 kg making the Type A the lightest of the bunch.

Price

Because of the limited amounts of Spirit R’s available the prices vary quite significantly. And while you could potentially (if very lucky) find a Spirit R for around $55,000 in okay condition most examples can be found between the $100,000 and $200,000 range.

Considering the standard model can be had for around $15,000 to $35,000 that’s quite a few regular RX-7 you can have for one Spirit R.

If you’re just after the driving experience it would be way cheaper to buy a regular one and modify it for a few thousand dollars.

However, if you’re searching for the authentic JDM experience, and want to own a piece of Japanese history, then the Spirit R is a great candidate. It will likely also prove to be a great investment if held for a few years.

E. Lindgren

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