The original RX-7 was a sports coupé. The compact and light-weight Wankel engine or rotary engine is situated slightly behind the front axle, a configuration marketed by Mazda as "front mid-engine". It was offered in America as a two-seat coupé, with optional "occasional" rear-seats in Japan, Australia, and other parts of the world.
The RX-7 made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list five times. In total, 811,634 RX-7s were produced.
- Series 1 (1979–1980) is commonly referred to as the "SA22C" from the first alphanumerics of the vehicle identification number. This series of RX-7 had exposed steel bumpers and a high-mounted indentation-located license plate, called by Werner Buhrer of Road & Track magazine a "Baroque depression."
In 1980 Mazda released 3000 special models known as the LS (Leather Sport). This package added an LS badge, full leather upholstery, sunroof, and gold-colored alloys. This model was only available in three different colors Aura White (1250 made), Brilliant Black (1250 made) and Solar Gold (500 made).