Digestible Collectible: 1989 Mazda RX7 GTUs

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 1989 mazda rx7 gtus

Mazda just can’t quit the rotary. Magical spinning Doritos are such a significant part of their DNA that, in spite of overwhelming evidence against the Wankel existence thanks to its appetite for fuel, oil, and apex seals, they keep a team of engineers developing it.

In theory, the rotary is the perfect engine for a sportscar. Lightweight, rev-happy, and reasonably powerful — exactly the attributes needed for a lithe corner carver. Back in the late ’80s, just as another enthusiast-focused Mazda was coming on the scene, a special edition RX7 was released. Rather than tape stripes and excess frills, this one came stripped of excess weight, and loaded with performance goodies.

The 1989 Mazda RX7 GTUs helped commemorate the dominance of the RX7 in IMSA’s GTU series. Basically, the car was a base model, naturally-aspirated RX7, with big front brakes from the Turbo, and a numerically-higher rear end ratio on a limited-slip differential. A little lighter, but a good bit quicker than the regular car. Around 1,100 were built over two years.

This one has been lightly modified and fitted with a rebuilt engine that has been street-ported for probably around 50 more horsepower than stock. The odometer has around thirty-five thousand miles showing, which can mean death for a Wankel, as seals will dry out if the car isn’t driven regularly. The recent rebuild should have taken care of that. I’m not much for the stereo upgrades, as they add unnecessary weight, but I’d imagine a built-up rotary and the short rear end mean highway cruising is a bit loud.

At $12,500, it might be a bit much for a modified limited-edition car, but there are so few of these that it the price may be right. As it turns out, I’ll be in Cincinnati this weekend. I may need to check this out.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Nov 04, 2015

    I've been trying to find one of these for years, in STOCK condition. Price is insane and it's been molested AND left to sit.

  • Craiger Craiger on Nov 04, 2015

    I've always found the C4 to be simple and honest, with a little bit of 80s nostalgia. Can anyone comment on the wisdom of picking one up today as a DD?

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.