25K-Mile 1981 Mazda RX-7 Is Today's Bring a Trailer Auction Pick

1981 mazda rx7 gsl 5 speed
25K-Mile 1981 Mazda RX-7 on BaTBring a Trailer
  • The first-generation Mazda RX-7 is perhaps the last overlooked vintage Japanese sports car.

  • Come for the quick and quirky rotary power, stay for the great handling.

  • This example wears all the 1980s brown you can handle and boasts ultra-low miles, and its online auction ends on Tuesday, February 27.

With the Toyota 2000GT a million-dollar blue-chip collectible and the Datsun 240Z a long sought-after classic, vintage Japanese sports cars are having their day in the sun. That glow extends right through well into the 1990s, with the likes of the Toyota Supra and Acura NSX. Looking for an overlooked gem from the land of the rising sun that's not yet from the land of rising prices? Have we got a wedge of glorious brown for you.

1981 mazda rx7 gsl 5 speed side
Bring a Trailer

Introduced in 1978 as the replacement for the giant-killing Mazda RX-3—which broke the original Nissan Skyline GT-R's 49-race winning streak—the first-generation RX-7 is a tiny powerhouse of a car. Eclipsed in popular imagination by its two descendants, especially the ferocious twin-turbo Gen 3 model, this earlier rotary-powered sports coupe is quick, agile, and feels far faster than its modest power rating would indicate. This 1981 GSL model up for auction on Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos) appears to be an excellent example of the breed.

1981 mazda rx7 gsl 5 speed rear
Bring a Trailer

To drive an RX-7 is to understand why Mazda was so dedicated to the rotary engine. Rotaries are compact, light, and run as smooth as double cream. In the GSL, the carbureted 1.1-liter 12A twin-rotor engine made 100 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque, and here it's paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Don't be fooled by the barely triple-digit rating, as the first-generation RX-7 tips the scales at under 2500 pounds. Further, this is a car from the people who later invented the Miata. Mazda knows how to do more with less.

1981 mazda rx7 gsl 5 speed engine
Bring a Trailer

Everyone remembers the 1980s as a sea of neon colors, Nintendo, and Hammer pants. In reality, if you experienced the early 1980s, you probably have memories of brown wall paneling, brown crockery, brown corduroy pants, brown... everything. This 1981 Mazda is brown too, but of a golden hue called Maya Gold Metallic, and it's fabulous. Inside, there's brown leather (or vinyl—the upholstery seems to be a matter of debate).

1981 mazda rx7 gsl 5 speed interior
Bring a Trailer

There's no reserve on this car, meaning it might be the bargain you're hunting for. Having been owned in New Mexico and California, it's a dry-climate car, and the low 25K miles on the odometer is ideal. Fluids, fuel lines, and other aged-out items are said to have been replaced, and overall the condition looks excellent.


The auction ends on February 27. This tidy little vintage Japanese sports car is going home with someone. Maybe there's a rotary-shaped hole in your driveway just waiting for it.

You Might Also Like