Incredibly, Mazda sold nearly half a million copies of the first generation RX-7, making it among MGB and MX-5 as the most successful sports cars in history.

However, because its rotary engine lacked durability, very few RX-7s survive today, so it is a rare sight on the streets. I haven't seen it for many years.

Yes, in terms of exterior styling it might be a copycat of Porsche 924 - from the pop-up headlamps to the glasshouse rear window -

thanks to a sleeker, lower bonnet line that was made possible by its compact Wankel engine. Its shape was pretty aerodynamic, too, as its 0.36 Cd shows.  Mazda RX-7

It proved that the Japanese were good at improving Western inventions. Compare with the styling, the chassis was far more conventional.  Mazda RX-7

Mazda RX-7  Suspensions comprised of MacPherson struts up front and a live-axle assisted by Watt's link at the rear. All-independent suspensions had been found in Porsche 924

but the Mazda was much cheaper, so it had to compromise with a non-independent rear axle from the existing parts pool. Same went for recirculating-ball steering and drum brakes at the rear.

However, what made the RX-7 special was its 50:50 chassis balance, which was made possible by mounting its lightweight yet compact rotary engine completely behind the front axle.

The Wankel engine was not a direct transplant from the previous RX cars. It was improved again with better lubrication and new tip seals.  Mazda RX-7

Mazda RX-7  The latter were made by a new process in which electron beam was employed to crystallize cast iron

The twin-rotor 12A engine displaced 573cc each combustion chamber, so it was equivalent to a conventional 2.3-liter engine.

Later cars received larger (2 x 654cc) 13B engine with 135hp, and even a 160hp turbocharged 12A engine, but the latter was bounded in Japan.  Mazda RX-7

When the RX-7 made world debut in 1978, people were excited not only with its stylish appearance but also its high-tech engine and good performance.

Mazda RX-7 The Wankel engine was incredibly smooth at idle, and could easily rev to 7000 rpm like a Ferrari V12. Although it was never famous for mid-range torque

As a result, it beat everything else in the class according to stop watch. 0-60 mph was done in 9 seconds, half a second quicker than a European-spec Porsche 924, Mazda RX-7