Corvette ZR-1 vs. Mazda RX-7
The Corvette ZR1 was produced from 1990 through 1995 and is regarded as one of the greatest American performance cars of all time. The Mazda RX-7 FD3S was offered in the US from 1993 through 1995 and although they took very different routes, these two mid-90s sports cars have developed a legendary status in the automotive history books.
The 1990 ZR1 used the already legendary status of the Corvette combined with help from then-GM subsidiary Lotus to make a true American supercar. This began with the ZR1-exclusive LT5 engine, featuring a unique 32-valve, dual overhead camshaft cylinder head design on an aluminum 5.7L block – making an awesome 375 horsepower. The look of the ZR1 was enhanced by a wide rear end with a square tail lights, 11” wide rear wheels and a third brake light mounted atop the back glass, rather than between the tail lights.
The Corvette ZR1 was one of the highest performance vehicles available in the world and it still holds records today but in a price segment with competition from all over the world, the ZR1 was a tough sell for dealerships and in 1995, the ZR1 production came to an end.
The Mazda RX-7 existed well before the FD3S version of the car debuted in 1993 but when the curvy RX7 rolled out in 93, it was all about performance. Gone were the watered-down, low performance engines of the previous generations and in their place, a 1.3L Wankel rotary making 255 horsepower with the help of a twin sequential turbocharging system. Along with that unusual (by American standards) engine choice, the 1993 RX-7 featured a refined suspension setup that helped it handle along with some of the top performing cars in the US market. Along with offering more power than previously available RX-7 models, the FD3S twin turbo engine came with a growing aftermarket to help the 1.3L rotary make big power.
The new RX-7 was small and light, making it more nimble than some of the heavier performance cars on the market but like many performance cars of the time, the 1993 RX-7 carried a hefty price tag. There were very few options in the US market and with an MSRP of $32,995, the RX7 cost almost twice as much as the 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra but cost less than the base 1993 Chevrolet Corvette.
Many traditional American performance enthusiasts had a hard time swallowing the $32k+ price tag of the 1993 Mazda RX-7 and the $58k+ price of the 1990 Corvette ZR1 but both of these vehicles has acquired legendary status and in their era, they were among the best performing cars in the world. The Mazda RX-7 FD3S outperformed many of the typical performance cars of the day, like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, but did so for a premium price. The Corvette ZR1 also offered big performance for a premium price, but the ZR1 laid claim to being one of the absolute best performance cars in the world...and it still does today.