The Mazda RX-7 is one of Japan’s most legendary and beloved cars.
Praised at the time of its for its sublime balance of speed and handling (as well as futuristic looks) the rotary-powered RX7 FD remains one of the most desirable Japanese cars ever.
Prices have soared in recent years, as we discussed in our article on why RX-7s are so expensive these days.
But what does RX7 stand for? In fact, what does “RX” mean in general for Mazda cars?
What Does RX7 Mean?
Conventional wisdom is that RX7 stands for “Rotary Experimental 7” – sometimes “Rotary Experiment 7”
Others have said that RX can mean “Rotary Export” or simply “Rotary Sport” (we will get to the “Sport” part shortly).
When you consider that MX-5 stands for “Mazda Experimental [project number] 5”, it makes sense that RX7 would stand for “Rotary Experimental 7” – this continues with the same theme (the MX-5 was an experiment in trying to build a lightweight, “pure” sports car in a similar vein to the Lotus Elan)
Mazda Sport – X Marks The Spot
Another explanation that some have given is that the RX in RX7 stands for Rotary Sport.
Obviously “sport” doesn’t start with X, so how could this be the case?
Basically, the claim is that Mazda uses a series of letters and numbers to denote their models (they aren’t so big on giving them normal car names any more – compared to the 1990s and early 2000s when there were vehicles like the “Sentia”).
X in a given Mazda car usually denotes a sport model. For example CX (as in CX-5) meaning “Crossover Sport”.
However, we think this is a weaker explanation considering – as stated above – that MX-5 originally meant “Mazda Experimental [project number] 5”
Conclusion – What Does RX7 Stand For?
The most likely explanation is that RX-7 stands for “Rotary Experimental 7”.
By the time the RX-7 rolled around (even the first SA generation, and definitely the FC and latterly the famous FD generation) it’s possible to argue that rotary technology – or at least Mazda’s application of it – wasn’t so much “experimental” any more.
However, considering that the name had been used on previous, mass-production rotaries like the RX-3, it made sense to continue with the trend.
Make sure you read our RX-7 Buyer’s Guide for more information on sourcing yourself one of these beautiful and increasingly rare cars.