When I was at high school in the mid 2000s and first getting into cars, here in New Zealand it was not uncommon for people to refer to the Mazda RX7 FD (read our buyer’s guide here) as the ‘Batman’, ‘Batmobile’ or even ‘Batty’ for short.
Even now, if you refer to a “Batty” most car enthusiasts in NZ who are fans of the 1990s/2000s Japanese performance scene know exactly what you mean when using that term.
But why is the RX7 called Batman by some? This is in a similar vein to the Nissan Skyline GT-R being called ‘Godzilla’.
In this short edition of Car Facts we aim to get to the bottom of this question and determine the origins of the “Batman”/“Batmobile” name for the RX7 FD.
It Looks Similar To The Batmobile
The most commonly-accepted origin story for the ‘Batman’ name is that the FD RX-7 bears some resemblance to the Batmobile from Batman movies/comics, particularly with the larger wing installed on the back.
In certain colours, it is hard to deny there is more than a passing similarity between the two cars:
Which is the “real” Batmobile, and which is the Mazda? It’s hard to tell, right? 😉
As such, it appears that the uncanny resemblance led to some choosing to refer to the RX-7 as the Batmobile or “Batman” and the name has stuck.
The Bathurst Connection
One other “origin story” we have heard is that the Batman name came from the RX7 competing in Australia in the 1990s at the legendary Bathurst circuit, specifically in 12 hour endurance racing.
During the production run of the RX-7 FG (read our in-depth history guide to the car fore more information) there were a number of ‘Bathurst’ specials produced over the years to commemorate Mazda’s success at the circuit.
From what we can tell, earlier Bathurst models mainly differed from regular RX-7s in terms of visual modifications (according to this forum thread, they were often basic spec cars but desirable due to the limited edition numbering)
However, in 2001 (right towards the tail end of RX7 production) Mazda released a JDM-only “RX-7 Type R Bathurst” which was a special edition of the already-improved RX-7 Type R.
This limited model – with only 500 produced according to Mazda’s own press release at the time – featured visual upgrades and also special height adjustable dampers.
There were, of course, more Bathurst models of different Manufacturing Years produced until the end of the RX7, but this 2001 model has the best info we could find, directly from Mazda.
But what has Bathurst got to do with Batman?
“Bathurst” as a word bears some resemblance to “Batman” – at least at the start – so it is feasible to see where the nickname might have come from, according to some people.
However, in our view the more likely origin story of the Batman name for the RX-7 is still from the visual similarities between the RX-7 and Batman’s Batmobile.
Conclusion – Why Is The RX7 Called Batman?
To recap, the likely reason for the Batman ‘nickname’ for the FD RX-7 is due to the car’s somewhat uncanny resemblance to the Batmobile from Batman TV shows/comics.
Although the RX-7 may not have rocket launchers and the like, it is certainly a bit of a weapon in its own right!
Remember that this nickname isn’t common in all countries, but certainly in New Zealand (where the Garage Dreams editorial team is based) it is not an uncommon turn of phrase and many car enthusiasts are well aware of what it refers to.
If you are thinking about buying an FD-generation RX-7, then make sure you read our comprehensive Mazda RX-7 buyer’s guide for more information on sourcing and inspecting one of these rapidly appreciating classics. With prices rising on these cars faster than the RPMs climb on one at full throttle, you want to make sure that you buy the right car for you!
We would also love to know if you have any more insight into the origins of the Batman name for the RX-7. Leave a comment below to start the discussion.