“… artfully appointed to raise the aesthetic pleasures of driving …”
The 1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE was the last of the first generation RX-7s which had debuted in 1979, timing the market perfectly for a relatively low-priced and attractive sports car.
Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection and more power had come in 1984 with the 13B Wankel 1.3 liter two-rotor engine. Power increased from 101 bhp to 135 bhp—respectable for a relatively lightweight (about 2,500 pounds) sports car and dropping 0-60 times more than a second to slightly under 8 seconds. Mileage remained somewhat of the traditional rotary bugaboo that would eventually drive Mazda out of the rotary business: at 16 city/23 highway by the standards of the day not as good as the Nissan/Datsun 300ZX (19/25) or the Toyota Celica Supra (20/24)—both of which had more power.
By this time, the RX-7 had slid up-market. The GSL-SE’s base price was $16,125 ($35,000 in 2013 dollars) and this was before you added air conditioning or a sunroof.
I followed a first generation RX-7 for a while a few months ago and I was struck by how small it looked—smaller than I remembered these cars being. They were small, of course: 170 inches long (shorter than a modern Honda Civic coupe) and less than 50 inches tall.
RX-7s have fairly solid club support and maintain a reasonable presence in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1985 RX-7 GSL-SE in #1 condition is $9,700. As I write this in November 2013, there’s a Sparkling Black Metallic Clearcoat 1985 GSL-SE with 56,000 miles asking $6,500. Make mine Sunbeam Silver Metallic Clearcoat, please—I think light silver works best on these cars.