With age comes responsibility, wisdom, and many other admirable personal attributes. Also, the cars we wanted when we were too poor to afford them are totally affordable now! Go out and buy one, because let's face it, none of us are getting any younger!
For us, the ride of choice from an era gone by was a first-gen RX-7. We'd scoured the interwebz for some time and found countless examples of thoroughly ruined cars with homebrewed porting jobs, damage, rust, and all other manner of enthusiast and time-inflicted ailments. Finally, an OfferUp listing (of all places, right?) surfaced for a tired, but unmolested 7.
With 140,000-and-change miles on the clock, the car was a GSL-SE model with a fuel injected 13b engine, 5 speed manual, and limited-slip differential. While none of that may raise any hairs on necks, in 1984 those options were some seriously race-y hardware. Hell, it even had power windows!
We picked it up on the spot and subsequently treated it to a thorough scrub down, cut and buff of the pain, and a basic tune-up. The RX was a driver! The only problem, the stock seats were totally thrashed from 35 years of California sunshine. Leather flayed off their rusted metal skeletons and each plop into the driver's chair exhaled a plume of yellow seat-foam dust. To solve that problem, and as the first step of what would soon be a full restoration, we turned to our friends at Corbeau seats.
The first-generation RX-7 is a tiny car, with a slim roofline and the interior space of a roomy matchbox. This meant seat selection was going to be tight. Corbeau recommended an A4 model for comfort and compactness in the tiny confines of the Mazda.
"The A4 was designed so that the overall width and seat base height would make it a great fit in smaller vehicles like the Corvette, Mazdas, and Nissans," said Taylor McDougal of Corbeau. "Whether on the street, the track, or off-road, the A4 racing seat will enhance your overall driving experience. The A4 has top of the line injection molded foam and patches are strategically placed to protect your seat from abuse in the high wear areas. The A4 is harness capable and an anti-submarine slot can be added to accommodate a 5- or 6-point harness belt."
The seats fit with room to spare and the matching seat sliders saved time on installation. Follow along as we detail the installation and officially kick-off our RX revival!
With a quick tune-up and a fresh dollop of oil in the engine trans and diff, our RX-7 quickly became a driver. However, driving requires a place to position one's buttocks and the mass of peeled leather and dusty seat foam wasn't akin to that. Enter Corbeau and a set of their A4 seats!
Our RX-7 was all original, but it was definitely in need of a good scrub and a date with the buffing pad.
Finding a car that hasn't been hacked is tough. We thoroughly lucked out on this survivor RX-7, which was loaded with original documentation from the original owner, including the window sticker, manual, cartoony "What is a rotary engine and here's all the ways you can ruin it book." We even scored a legit Mazda factory service manual.
A hit with Chemical Guys cutting and polishing compounds, some sealant, and a healthy smearing of wax brought the paint from chalkboard grey to a level of shimmer that left all of us surprised. We couldn't believe how much it came back.
To install the Corbeau seats, we used a set of their direct fit sliders, which bolt into the factory locations for both driver and passenger sides.
While the original seats were out, we took the opportunity to install new carpet from Rock Auto. We placed the Corbeau sliders where they would mount and used a razor blade to cut out slots for the feat.
The seat-to-slider mounting bolts are pre-installed in the bottom of the A4 seats.
Install the bolts through the slider and into the bottom of the seat at all four corners to join the two assemblies. You will need to pull on the slider release and move it up and down to access all four bolts.
Next, set the slider into the car. We found it easier to attack the rear bolts first, then install the front.
Of course, the very last seat bolt gave way when we were torqueing it, necessitating the 35-year-old bolt hole be drilled larger, and re-tapped for a bigger bolt. While it's not a major problem, it's something that may be necessary when working on cars of this vintage.
The seats installed easily and looked right at home in the car. Their black suede finish is grippy and the clearance on all sides of the seat felt like stock. The bolsters will be a nice touch in the autocross and track days we are building the car for.
The A4 Corbeau seats feature pass-through slots for racing harnesses, which we plan to install as soon as our roll bar arrives.
We're racking up miles on the RX every weekend and loving the fully bolstered and extremely comfortable Corbeau seats. Next up it's time to hunker the car down by replacing the tired original suspension and add some serious grip with a set of Toyo R888 tires!