Some cars just have it. The classic shape that defines a generation, the technological breakthrough (or flaw), or even the heritage behind the name itself. Yet, from the Chrysler Airflow to the Porsche Carrera GT, no one assumes it’s a classic when brand new, it’s a title that is earned.
When we’re talking the ’90s-00s, one acronym took the world by storm and transformed a generation: JDM.
Japanese Domestic Market sports cars were all the rage, taking the fight to established brands like Porsche, BMW, and Ford. They became cult classics in franchises like The Fast and the Furious and were the pearls discovered by the millions who played Gran Turismo and Need For Speed.
They were as ostentatious as they were fast and while some became mired in infamy (looking at you, Mitsubishi 3000GT), one did everything with such elegance, it’s hard to not consider it one of the best of the era.
Yes, the Mazda RX-7 FD beautifully represents the time period. The third-generation model, featuring the iconic 13B-REW twin-turbo rotary engine in a mid-front engine design, was quintessentially Japanese. Designer Yoichi Sato crafted the exterior with a subtle elegance; no need for huge aerodynamics like the Nissan Skyline or Toyota Supra. It achieved near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution. And it was light, coming in at around 2,500 lbs. The result was a car that could slice through a track layout faster than a laser scalpel.
It’s no surprise the FD became such a pillar of the drifting community, where style and grace are as important as power and handling.
But the world is different now.
Safety ratings bloat minimalist concepts. Rotary engines are complicated and regarded as inefficient. Even Mazda itself must prioritize a crossover over a halo vehicle to stay in business.
It’s a lesson we toil with. Unfortunate, yet through all of this, we remember the finest products to survive through adversity and what they represent to their eras: The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Declaration of Independence, even the Space Shuttle.
And now, one future classic that replaces “future” with “present.” Here’s to the Mazda RX-7 FD.