This Snowmobile-Powered Mazda RX-7 Is the Weirdest Yet Coolest Thing You'll See Today

Mazda discontinued the RX-7 exactly 20 years ago as of 2022, but it remains one of the most iconic road cars built in Japan. And it's arguably the most celebrated rotary-powered production car. But someone decided the first-generation RX-7 would be better off without its original Wankel.
Mazda RX-7 with snowmobile engine 7 photos
Photo: Junkyard Digs/YouTube
Mazda RX-7 with snowmobile engineMazda RX-7 with snowmobile engineMazda RX-7 with snowmobile engineMazda RX-7 with snowmobile engineMazda RX-7 with snowmobile engineMazda RX-7 with snowmobile engine
While it may be an unusual decision, it's not unheard of. Look hard enough, and you'll find a few RX-7s that no longer rely on rotary power. But the fact that this 1980s coupe hides a two-stroke snowmobile powerplant under the hood is unexpected, to say the least.

No, this is not an April Fools' Day prank. This RX-7 uses an 800-cc (49-cubic-inch) engine from an Arctic Cat snowmobile to move around. Why would anyone do this to a classic Japanese rig that's a sought-after collectible, you ask? Well, I don't have the answer, but I think this build is so crazy it's actually cool (except for the botched rhinoplasty that acts as a hood).

Naturally, the swap turned the Mazda RX-7 into a completely different car. It won't start until you pull the cord under the hood, it makes a lot of noise, and it vibrates like crazy, even when sitting at idle. And it kinda sounds like a lawnmower. Is it fast? Well, let's say that it's not as slow as you think, and it makes for a fun vehicle if you like doing donuts.

But while the Arctic Cat under the hood is rated at 145 horsepower from the factory, a lot less than that hits the rear wheels of this Mazda. The dyno run that you can find at the 25-minute mark reveals that this RX-7 hits the ground with only 80 horsepower.

Where's the rest of the Arctic Cat's oomph? Well, apparently, the setup under the hood plus the fact that the engine mates to a CVT make about 40% of the power vanish toward the wheels.

Despite all that, it's an interesting experiment. And all the folks that take the RX-7 for a drive seem to have a lot of fun. And I'm not going to lie. While I'd love to see this Mazda restored to original specifications, I'd also drift the heck out of it. Because why not.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea profile photo

Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories