The Mazda RX-7 is one of the greatest, most celebrated cars ever to come from Japan, particularly the RX-7 of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Famed for its gorgeous looks, tight handling and powerful 13B twin turbo rotary engine (at least for the popular FD/third-generation), it is a car that has withstood the test of time, and prices are now climbing rapidly on even tatty examples – learn more here about why Mazda RX-7s are so expensive these days.
Designed to compete with cars like the Porsche 911, the rotary-powered RX-7 FD is a true “JDM icon” and collected many awards and accolades during its time, such as featuring more than once on Car and Driver’s best car lists.
It isn’t one of those cars that was unloved during its day and then the public developed an appreciation for it over time – it was good from the day it first rolled into Mazda showrooms in the early 1990s.
If you’d like to learn more about the RX-7 FD, then read our detailed model history and buyer’s guide here, which contains a wealth of information on finding, inspecting and buying a good example.
Most of the RX-7s ever produced were intended for the Japanese Domestic Market – i.e. for sale new in Japan.
As you will no doubt be aware, cars made for the Japanese Domestic Market are right hand drive (i.e. the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car and you drive the car on the left hand side of the road)
But are all RX-7s right hand drive?
In this short edition of Car Facts we take a look at whether or not all RX-7s came in right hand drive (RHD) configuration.
Long story short, the RX-7 was sold in both right hand drive AND left hand drive configuration, across all of its generations from the late 1970s to the early 2000s.
Provided you had the cash and lived in a market with a Mazda dealer network, you could walk into a dealership and purchase a factory left-hand drive RX-7.
For example, here is a photo of the interior from a factory US-spec RX-7 FD:
This is in comparison to the Nissan Skyline GT-R, which was only ever sold as a right hand drive car. For various reasons the Nissan Skyline was effectively illegal in the United States, and so Nissan did not see the point in doing substantial re-engineering to make it left hand drive for sale in the American market (there would have been substantial modification and compliance work required to allow the Skyline GT-R to be sold new in America).
A member on the RX7 Club website has done a good job at trying to piece together how many models were produced for sale in America (where they came in left-hand drive).
There were also some left hand drive models produced for other countries where LHD cars are the norm, e.g. Germany and France – although the majority of LHD models did make their way into America.
It is believed only around 1200 examples were sold into Europe, through the official Mazda dealer network (NB this also includes RHD examples sold into the UK).
One interesting fact to note is that after Germany and the UK, the country that bought the RX-7 FD in the highest numbers was Greece, where their vehicle tax structure favored the rotary engine. Considering that Greece is a fairly small country with lower incomes than Germany and the UK, this is no mean feat from the Greeks!
Basically, the RX-7 was designed and engineered to work well as both a left hand drive and right hand drive car – as opposed to the Nissan Skyline GT-R which was engineered only to be RHD, with conversions requiring quite a bit of modification to the driveline.
In this regard, the RX-7 is similar to many of the other Japanese icons of the 1990s – like the MKIV Toyota Supra – that were available in both LHD and RHD configurations.
Recap – Are All RX-7s Right Hand Drive?
No, not all RX-7s are right hand drive. There were a number of Mazda RX-7s produced in left hand drive configuration as well.
Many examples were built with left hand drive for sale new into America and other markets, such as those in continental Europe. The majority of LHD models went to America, with European markets constituting a much smaller number of total sales.
Towards the end of production of the RX-7 (late 1990s/early 2000s) Mazda basically went to making right hand drive models only, primarily for the domestic market. In part this was driven by the fact that the RX-7 struggled to meet increasingly strict emissions standards in America during the 1990s, as well as the fact that sales were not particular strong due to high sticker prices – you can learn more here about how much the RX-7 FD cost new.
If you are interested in buying an RX-7 FD, then read our buyer’s guide and model history. There is a great wealth of information on finding, inspecting, buying and maintaining your dream RX-7.
Outside of the FD generation RX-7 (third generation) there were also left hand drive examples of the first two generations as well, with the cars being sold new into LHD markets like the United States.
Have you got a genuine left hand drive RX-7? If so, we would love to hear your feedback and ownership experience with your car.
Leave us a comment below to get the discussion started!