10k: BMW M50 Power: 1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL

The first generation RX-7 (SA/FB built in Japan from 1978 to 1985) was a beautiful ballerina in the sports car world.  The RX-7’s lithe frame was propelled by an equally dainty engine – the Mazda rotary.  So, why would you take an RX-7 and power it with a cast iron block BMW inline-6?  It is like casting a Schuhplattler dancer in the lead for Swan Lake — she’ll be great at jumps, but the landings will be painful.  Find this 1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL offered for $8,000 in Hollywood, FL via craigslist.  Tip from Greg S.

In truth, the weirdo side of me sorta likes this swap, but putting a BMW 325i engine into the front of an RX-7 just seems odd.  First, why not pick the S50/52 which is the same size/weight and adds a bunch of horsepower (probably because the M50 was dirt cheap)?  Second, even with an alloy head, the iron block M50 is going to add significant weight to the front of the Mazda, which isn’t a good thing if  you enjoy the stock 50:50 weight distribution and balance of the FB.

This RX-7 is still a good looking car even with the 189 horsepower BMW M50 comfortably shoved under the hood — kudos to the seller for not putting a hood bulge (or bugle) in the hood or some silly BMW badge on the decklid.  With the additional few ponies from the headers the seller claims 200 wheel horsepower which makes this thing a bit of a sleeper.

Inside a garish sophisticated red interior greets the driver and reminds him that there was a time when auto manufacturers made brothel red cloth interiors.  A recent trip to an upholstery shop looking for a quote on fixing a few splitting seams in the Draken brought this to my attention.  The upholstery guy was nice enough to show me his catalogs of available UV resistant material and he said that the bright reds in cloth are a thing of the past and most OE cloth interiors are grey/beige/black/tan. 

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