The Mazda RX-7 is one of Japan’s most iconic cars. Unfortunately, this is one iconic car that the Philippines never had the chance to see locally, unless of course you count these truly enthusiastic few who brought in these cars to the city streets via the grey market. Grey market cars usually don’t get manufacturer support in terms of after sales and parts, but that isn’t the case at all for these Mazda RX-7 owners.
The Mazda RX-7 is known for its revolutionary Wankel “rotary” engine, wherein instead of using cylinders to combust fuel, the engine has an eccentric rotary design in order to pressurize the fuel and air mixture. The great thing about the rotary is that, just one rotor is enough to simultaneously achieve the entire combustion process of drawing air, compressing the fuel-air mixture, and then pushing the exhaust gases out due to the triangular shape of the rotor. As a result, rather than packing at least three cylinders in order to achieve the same amount of work one rotor is already enough, making the engine very compact, whilst producing a lot of power for such a small size. A rotary engine can just be one-third of the size of a piston-driven engine yet still have the same amount of power.
Unfortunately, it also has some disadvantages. Since the engine housing has vastly different temperatures in each separate chamber, different expansion coefficients of the materials lead to imperfect sealing. As a result, the engine often becomes overlubricated and has a tendency to have a poor combustion behavior that results in bad fuel economy. Due to the resulting unburnt fuel in the exhaust system, emission regulations are also difficult to meet, and these factors have become the nails into the coffin of the legendary Wankel engine. There is hope though, as Mazda has hinted at intentions of creating a successor fitted with Skyactiv Technology in the future.
Another drawback is something that’s pretty famous (or infamous) for this type of engine: worn apex seals. This is something that can easily be avoided with proper maintenance, of course. These apex seals are placed at the tips of the rotor since their purpose is to create a seal to complete the combustion processes inside each chamber of the rotary engine. It’s these apex seals that make contact within the housing case of the rotary engine, and this is also part of the reason why rotary engines need a lot of oil for proper lubrication. Eventually, these apex seals get worn out, and if they aren’t replaced in due time, this can cause damage to the engine in the long term.
Apart from the engine, the Mazda RX-7 proved to be a pleasure to driving enthusiasts and tuners alike. The legendary sports car has a large loyal following, due to the unique nature of the powertrain, as well as the car’s sublime driving dynamics. What I found surprising is that there’s apparently a good number of these rotary-powered machines here in the Philippines.
Meeting with Mikko David, Press and Customer Relations Manager of Mazda Philippines, he says how the Bermaz Auto Philippines Inc. team is mainly composed of car enthusiasts. Just like any other car manufacturer or distributor, they are in the business of selling cars, but that’s where Mazda’s similarities with other manufacturers end.
The relationship between the brand and the customer should not end when the papers are signed and the car has been released. As a matter of fact, that’s where the intimate relationship between the brand and its customers should begin. As a brand that mainly caters to driving enthusiasts, Mazda Philippines is very keen on the community that its car owners eventually create. The brand is very supportive to such club meetings and gatherings, just for the sake of keeping the community alive. It is a normal occurrence for one car club to eventually disband because of reasons ranging from politics to financial lapses. For Mazda Philippines, the brand’s mindset is that, if you are creating a car club, it should be about the cars and not the highest number of members or influence. That point has firmly been displayed at last Saturday’s gathering, because these RX-7 owners do not not consider themselves as an official car club.
Truth be told, their “club” doesn’t even have officers. They just simply gathered this July 7, 2018 (07/07/2018) to celebrate “7’s Day”. Every 7/7 (or July 7), RX-7 owners around the world bond together to celebrate the joy and companionship that their cars have led to. In the end, the cars are what brought them together, not the politics, the fame, nor the influence and the number of followers. These enthusiasts and owners chatted the whole afternoon, discussing their cars, parts, and any issues that they may be experiencing from their well-kept babies.
And speaking of issues, this is where Mazda truly sets itself apart from other manufacturers. Since the people behind Mazda Philippines are car enthusiasts themselves, people such as Mikko David and Steven Tan truly know what their customers and enthusiasts want. During the gathering at Butamaru Ortigas, he announced that if any of these owners need to look for any spare parts, they can directly contact their team, and they will get in touch with their parts manager. As long as the parts they’re looking for are still in production, they will offer them to these RX-7 owners at an extremely fair price.
“Why the need to go to great lengths to support these owners?”, I asked Mikko David. He gladly says to me that Mazda Philippines wants to continue nurturing and giving their support to these enthusiasts who continue to keep the Wankel engine alive. It’s no easy feat, nor easy on the pockets of these owners who continue to pour in their passion to keep these legendary sports cars alive through the years.
It’s an answer and the kind of support that you definitely expect from a car enthusiast. Clearly, the team behind Mazda Philippines know what these people want, and that’s important if you want to have loyal customers and an intimate fan base. More than just the cars, a manufacturer that shows compassion to its customers and fans is what will keep them from switching to other brands.
With that level of support from a car manufacturer, it’s no surprise how happy these Wankel enthusiasts were during the gathering.
Now that’s a story truly worth sharing.