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The RX-7 is a unique and misunderstood car, with fiercly devoted owners. If you are considering purchase, reading these next few posts from the TeamFC3S (Second Generation) mailing list should provide the final amount of persuasion. Reprinted with permission.
From: Rob Hammond
Message: Well...I hate to do this, but I guess I'll tell you all of how I became a rotary nut :)
Back when I was about 9 or 10, I cant really remember, I saw those generic pictures of that mysterious rotary engine, with the different colors depicting the various phases of the otto cycle. As 14 rolled around, I knew I could not drive a rat-trap, and the family Caddy was coming my way if I didnt get moving and find a car. So I enrolled in the corporation (a.k.a. McDonalds) and moved up in the world. For 2 years I saved up, and knew I could buy a nice car with the $6K I saved.
Then one day, while I was reading thru Popular Science, I came to this section in the back that focuses on older technology and when it appeared. It has machines that came out 100 years ago, 75, 50, 25 years ago, etc. As I browsed through them, I saw something that completly changed my whole view on used cars. It was a section entitled, "50 years ago, rhe revolutionary Wankel rotary engine". Right about then all those fuzzy pictures of a triangle and different colors came back, and it all made sense. What I had seen years before was what would be powering my car tomorrow. It mentioned that it had been featured in the Mazda RX-7 for almost 20 years now, and I was hooked without even seeing one in real life.
Then I saw it. An 89+ N/A at my job. I gawked for about an hour (and got paid a whole 6.25!) and was in love. Every thing I could expect and more. The lines, the sound (I waited till he came out) and the whole car was too much. Then I spotted a 3rd gen from about 100 yards away the next day. I wont get into that :)
A few weeks later and 2200 dollars shorter, I had an 88 GTU. It was silver, and had its own "character traits", but I loved it none-the-less. It sat for 6 months until I could legally drive it (guess my age?) and here I am. I feel I am one of the reasons that no one should go to a dealer. If a 16 year old "ace mechanic" with a Haynes manual and a Craftsmen set can tear their engine down to the block, and have it all go back without a hitch, its possible for anyone to do it.
So thats my story....
Thanks, I've always wanted to write this.
Rob Hammond 88GTU--Wants a turbo now, Dale made me soooo jealous.
From: Jerry Harding
Message: If we're all going to tell stories.......My Mom had an '88, or was it '87? heck I can't remember I was too young (I was born in 1982). I can remember riding around in that a few times. It gets better though. When I moved to Tampa to live with my Mom and new step-dad in 1991, one of his friends was in the market for a new car. I got to go along. We went to one of those giant car sales at the old Tampa Stadium. The car my step-dad's friend picked out was an RX-7. It was a 91 model year. We took it for a test drive around the parking lots (trust me, not at normal parking lot speeds though). He bought the car. After he had many fun years with it, he was in the market to buy another new car last year. He chose a BMW 328i vert. He sold the RX-7 to my step dad for $100 (they were best friends, it was originally going to be that he just gave the car away, but my step-dad wouldn't stand for that). Two days later, my car blew a rod (1992 Hyundai Excel....good stuff), and the next day the RX-7 blew its engine (can't remember what happened). The car went in for a rebuild and 2 weeks later and a lot of bargaining, it was mine. The first time I started that car I was hooked. I couldn't get enough. I was driving all the time. So that's my story.
From: Chris Meadors
Message: My first actual experience with a rotary powered vehical was only 2 months ago when I got my RX-7. But my facination goes way back.
I guess it was year after I graduated from high school. I was hanging out at the local pet shop talking about cars. The owner of the shop was talking about rotary vs. reciprocating engines. He was using the imperical method of questioning those present. He asked things like, what do the tires on your car do?..rotate. What do the axels do? Rotate. What does the drive shaft do? Rotate? So why would you want your power plant to be using reciprocating motion? What is the point of having serveral chunks of steel accelorating in one direction, only to stop, turn around, and go back in the oppisite, just to stop again?
Well that set off the spark in my head. I found myself talking to my dad, who had always worked on cars as I grew up, and had plenty of stories to tell about driving. I asked him, "why aren't all cars rotary powered?" Told me of the reliability problems with their engines, but also told me about Mazda spanking all cars in their class the first few years they raced rotaries, until the officials deceided that they had too much of an advantage and put restrictions on them to the point where they were less than equal to the cars they were racing against.
I was having that conversation with my dad the night before he took me to the airport, I was moving to Florida to go to school. While living in Fort Lauderdale I started dating a girl that had this beat up looking hatch back. It was a faded charcoal/purple color. Horrid. The thing bearly idled, but the few times we rode on the highway, it really scooted.
Keep in mind I knew of the rotary engine, but not what cars Mazda had used it in. So I dropped out of the art school in Florida and moved back to Maryland, where I started attending a community college just so my huge student loans I got after only 6 months wouldn't come do so soon. At the community college I studied Computer Science and Math. In my Calculus, one of the chapters had a picture of a first generation RX-7 sitting on a salt flat. In that chapter we learned to calculate the area between two curves. One problem in the chapter had us compute the volume of the combustion chamber of the RX-7.
I think it was that point where I deceided I wanted an RX-7. The car looked nice in the picture, but more importantly the engine was so unique, so techy, there was no way I couldn't love it, you had to use Calculus to figure out the displacement, that was so cool.
I looked around on the Internet, and found tons of great sites, run by people who seemed to be huge fans of the car. I also discoved that there were 3 different body styles over the years. I liked the first gen. from my math book, and the thrid gens. were freaking sweet, but there was no way I'd want one of those second gens. they were just too boxy looking. So I started looking at prices, I discovered that I wasn't going to be able to afford an RX-7 with my current job. So I just kept doing the school thing, until I graduted and got a better job.
I didn't have too much money, but I figured I get a loan to buy a car if I found one. Not too much later a 1990 showed up on a local car lot. I went to look at it, but the owner of the lot just asked how I was going to pay for it. I said I'll try to finance it. He told me to go to a bank and find the money and once I "had my ducks in a row", I could come back a talk about the car.
I said screw him and started saving up my money. Once I had enough money saved up to buy just about any stock RX-7 I could find on Autotrader up to a 1993 model, maybe a rough 1994, I started looking around. Mostly I read FAQs on the Internet about what to look for when buying a RX-7. I also read about common problems, and how to fix them. So searching Autotrader, I found a couple of cars not too far away, but reading the descriptions there was something I didn't like. And the convertibles kept catching my eye.
There was one convertible on Ohio that really sounded good. I called the guy up. The first thing he tried to do was warn me about rotary cars, saying that they are different than most engines. I tell him I know all about them. Anyway, I agree to meet him halfway in Pittsburg, PA. I ride up with my mom just encase I do want to buy the car. I drive the car around Pittsburg for about 45 minutes. Stopping here and there for me to look at things on my checklist. I figured my checklist of items would have scared the guy, but he stood behind the car as being in very good shape. For the most part I agreed with him.
I worked out a deal with him, and drove home with the car. So far I have been very happy with the car. It does have its little problems, but it is very drivable and for the price I probally couldn't have done much better, and I'm sure I could have done much worse. Plus if the car didn't have problems, what would I work on?
I called up my ex-girlfriend from Florida the other day and asked what type of car she had. If you hadn't figured it out, it was an RX-7, and 1990. She had gotten rid of it in the mean time, after the transmission went out. If I had known what she had, I might not have left her. :P
From: Jeff Wozniak
Message: Everybody seems to have this "nostalgic" story about RX-7's and how they've always loved them... My story is nowhere even close. When I was 9 years old, I broke my leg in a go-cart accident. It wasn't my fault and my parents sued the person responsible. Well, 7 years after the accident, the lidigation was finially over and I recieved my settlement: $10,000 cash. The year was 1991 and seeing as how I just turned 16, I was itching to spend my new found wealth. I searched the paper everyday until I finally saw a 86 SE for sale with 16,000 miles.
At the time I didn't know what an RX-7 was, but it sounded sporty. So I went up to look at it. When I got to the subdivision, I found a beat up brown RX-7 sitting in this driveway. I looked at the rear and it said "RX-7" on it, so I figured this had to be the place. My first impression was what a piece of junk! It had the molding falling off, rust along the bottom, and it was puke BROWN! Anyway, I walked up to the car and the first thing I checked was the odometer...It said 140,000miles! I was completly confused...The ad in the paper said 16,000 miles. So I looked up, and low and behold I was at the wrong house! Across the street sat a garage kept sunbeam silver RX-7. It turns out that the car I origionally saw was a first gen that needed a lot of lovin...
Anyway, I bought the 86 with cash a week latter for $7800 and its been a match made in heaven ever since!
From: Brule, Matt
Message: I guess I came into rotory very differently then all. I was 12 and used to race R/C cars at the local track. I blew out the engine in my 1/8th scale truck and was on the market for something new and cool to give me an edge on the rest! Behind the counter sat a nice little rotory. "What in the world is that thing?". The guy showed me around the motor saying it had far fewer moving parts then the average glow engine and that there were parts available to actually rebuild it rather then just buying a new one every time. I was on my 2nd engine of the year due to some major bad luck, and well, the races were every weekend. It took 2 days to get the thing in and running properly so I didnt get a chance to do a good breakin. Anyhow, the rotory was fast, it had very predictable power so I could stiffen up the diffs to make up for the lack of low end power.
8 years later I was shopping for a new car, my 318i had a small electrical fire causing 16k of damage. They rented me a Grand Prix GT which turned out to be a decently quick car. Going down the i95 just outside of baltimore I was doing about 100-110 when this silver thing shot past me like a batt out of hell. I floored it to try and be his tail through the traffic. He not only out accelerated me by a long shot but could move between lanes which what seemed like the slight touch of the wheel. It was a 3rd gen. I gave up the chase and flew back to Ottawa 2 days later.
When I got home, the guy accross the street had this red car out front with a "for sale" sign. Thats when I picked up my 91 N/A, and have never looked back!
From: Erik Smith
Message: My first rotary experience was in 1992 when I saw a TV show on the discovery channel about the wonders of the rotary engine. I knew nothing about cars, but the rotary made sense. They never said what cars had them so I asked my Dad and he said he thought Mazda used them. The next day at school I made my friend open the hood of her 323 so I could take a look, but it did not look very rotary. A couple of years later I had a brand new 1994 Eclipse and my friend had a mint 1979 RX-7 with 20K miles. Every night he and would have some kind of race. I am talking 17 year old ignorant driving, 7K drag launches, +120mph races on the Washington DC 495 beltway. My car would usually win, but the 7 was just much cooler. It was small, rear wheel drive, and so quiet at idle you could not tell if it was on. When I got to college I saved for a new car. I could not decide between a 300ZX, Supra, or a 7. I drove a 300ZX and a Supra and they were all right. I was quite interested in the digital dash of the 300ZX. Then I found a 2nd gen 7 that I test drove in the rain. When I shifted from 1st to 2nd I spun the tires and almost went in to a guard rail. I knew I would get a 7. I soon found one and have not regretted it in 55K miles.
I want to buy a new rotary, Mazda are you listening?
From: Carolyn E. Blake.
Message: My RX moment isn't so long ago or so life-long as the other stories I have been reading. I'm having my first experience now. Up until last June I had only barely heard of an RX. We were a typical family with me managing the house and hubby taking care of the cars. All I knew about cars, and cared to know, was keep the tank full, does the stereo crank, and does the AC freeze me enough. Last June my 21 year old son, the youngest, was home and researching cars on the net to choose one for himself. He kept going on and on about the RX and pressing me..."Mom, you gotta' get one of these cars!" And I'm thinking, what do I need a sportscar for? But I was ready to buy myself a new car (my last one was a Toyota Corolla) and one showed up in the paper. So off we went to look at it.
I will never forget that moment when the guy opened his garage door and my
eyes first fell on my Black Beauty. My heart began to pound and all
rationality went out of the window. My hands were shaking as he handed me
the keys for a test drive. The feel of the black leather seat hugging me as
I started it up, the instant acceleration with the slightest push on the
accelerator, the beautiful rumble of the rotary engine...It was love in an
instant. I drove it home within that hour, and my obsession only increases
every day. Not too long after, I changed oil for the first time in my life.
My husband stood by the RX laughing at me, saying there was one sight he
never expected to ever see...his 53 year old wife's feet sticking out from
under a car.
From: Josh Ross
Message: Just FYI, this is a great thread. Thanks for starting it. Anyway, I can't really give to much history since I am only 20 and have been driving for all of about 3 years [wow, it seems like so much longer] but here goes: When I was a senior in highschool I started shopping for what car i wanted. I am one of those people who, within reason, gets what he wants with price being a second consideration. So with some respect to my price range i started shopping a round for a car I wanted. My friend had an 87 supra and I liked it so thats where i started. After some research I narrowed my search to 2nd generation supras, 300z's, and Rx-7's. The supras were proving to be a bit out of the price range and I liked the sevens more than the z's. Then I decided I had to have a back seat, even if it was tiny, this limited me to non-turbo's and so the search was on. I looked at some very GHETTO cars [metalic green with red velvet interior :) is one that comes to mind] before I found one in decent shape.
The car I ended up with had a purple exterior with red door jambs and
engine bay, was slammed [I could barely get my shoulder under it] had a
nice 2.5": full exhaust, and as I affectionatly call it a whore house red
interior. The car ran great untill someone cut me off on the freeway and I
put the excelent brakes to use. I managed not to hit the person, but
because of a broken strut I spun and was hit headon. After that i knew I
had to have a TII, now I do. I have a goal of 350 RWHP and a budget near
Pistons, who needs em?
From: Adolph Finley
Message: It all started for me as a kid growing up in Southern California. I remember the Mazda commercial spots on TV about the "Mizer" which looked remarkably like a RX-3 but the really cool feature in this car was an interior roof mounted control panel. As a kid, something so goofy was considered cool to me.
In the greater LA area, the import car scene back then was mainly an underground phenomenon. We're talking around 25 years ago or so. I remembered the DISTINCTIVE SOUND of the rotary engines exhaust most notably and recognized that this was no common, average car. Around this time the "pocket-rockets" in urban LA where Ford Pintos, Leland/Mercury Capri's (European V-6's), Chevy Vega's, Datsuns, Triumph TR-6's, Fiat variants,Toyotas and VW's. These cars were all built to what would be considered extreme levels for that time. There were a slew of shops that specialized in tuning these cars. I didn't mention the American muscle cars because they were just about everywhere and rather common.
The rotary stood out in my mind the most for it's uniqueness. I grew up around people who ran & cruised these cars as hard as they wanted to despite the gas crunch of the mid 70's. After reaching my adolescent years, I bought my first rotary car. This was after buying a couple of "boingers" which had been severely whooped/spanked in "traffic light trials"(uh..hemm).
This experience reinforced itself in a form of a 1973 Mazda RX-2 coupe,12A streetport, jetted stock carb, 13"x8" "stretchies" with chrome trim rings,roll bar, etc. This lead to a later purchase of a 1971 R-100 and to where I am today. The owner of 4 rotary powered cars: Another 73 RX-2 (4 door), 2 FB GSL's and one FC3S.
Like the "Mr. K" Nissan Dream Garage TV commercial from a few years back, the following would be my preferred collection: S 110 Cosmo Sport coupe, R-100, RX-2,3(SP),4,5(Cosmo) 1978 Savanna RX-7, 77 REPU, FC3S drop top, FD3S of course JC Cosmo (better than a Lexus 400 SC IMO) Did I leave anything out? Oh that little dog, the Jack Russell Terrier, was cool too.
I've been bitten by the bug and haven't been the same since. The fun starts above 5,000 RPM (depending how it's ported & modded of course).
ADee-B-Me (A. Finley)
"you were just pist-on buy a rotary."
From: Dale Thomas
Message: Ok, my turn :-) Back in 1975 I was a young amateur road racer and I was tired of either riding my production bike to the track and or towing a trick little one rail aluminum trailer behind my '73 Capri. Mini trucks were "in" so I went looking for one. I was dating a girl that lived in Livermore and as I was driving by Ozzie Davis mazda, I saw a cool looking mini truck with flared fenders on the show room floor. I pulled into the lot and was walking around the truck checking it out and the salesman starts his spiel, I said let's go for a ride and he just tossed me the key and said he couldn't leave because he was the only one there. hehehehe the fool :-) I got around the corner and stuck my foot in it, HOLY SH!T!!!! this thing is FAST! Hey, what's that buzzing?? oh, I see :-) I pull up to a light and what pulls up next to me? A 240Z :-) At that time I hated those things so I throw a rev at him. He laughs. The light turns and it's on! He got me in first cause I went up in smoke. Time to get serious. I put a race face on and made perfect shifts. we were even through second, I banged third and got a nice little chirp and it was all over from there :-) He turned onto a side street so he wouldn't have to look at me laughing at him. I took it to a big parking lot so I could see how good it spun doughnuts. Hmmmm, not bad :-) After about a half hour I figured I better bring it back before the cops come looking for me. I pull in to the dealership with a big grin on my face and a half hour later I'm taking all my stuff out of the Capri I just traded in and putting into my new Rotary pick-up :-) I drove that truck across the country about 15 times and beat on it every chance I got. I even spun it a couple of times. I kept that thing until two years ago when I traded it to Bill at B&B racing for the motor that's in my '79 now. I'm thinking about buying it back :-)
Message: It's funny because my story is somewhat similar in the sense that I didn't really know what a RX-7 was all about at first....
I live near John Duff (formerly of Peter Farrell Supercars), and I used to drive by his house all the time. Of course, at the time, I had no clue who lived there... I just liked the cars. I always saw several different 'sports cars' in his driveway, and I used to drive slowly past his house every time to see what he had there on that day. I found out that they were RX-7s and started looking into them. I figured that if one guy had so many, they must be something special.
So, I did some research into them and decided to look for a 87 TII. I was also considering a 89+ Supra Turbo but they were more expensive and seemed like more work to modify. I really didn't know too much about the glorious wankel at the time, or the awesome handling that I probably would have missed out on in the Supra, so I'm glad I went for a RX-7.
I've still got that 87 TII, and drive it to work most days! I still cruise by that house once in a while... when I'm out looking for some curves... and I always slow down to see what might be there on display.
Message: I am sitting here an wondering a bit, I always remember my first experience in a rotary powered car, mine was fabulous what's yours????...so here it is...
(Hope I don't start some crazy thread)
It was quite a few years back I was 13 yrs old and my cousin had just got his 12a auto first gen, I begged this guy for weeks to let me drive his car I was amazed by the sounds it made and how quickly this thing would spin to 7-8k rpm's. This was a few years before I could even get my DL, My Dad taught me how to drive stick when I was 12.
Finally after tormenting my cousin for 3 months he let me take it for a spin on an old airfield not far from home. I made about six runs up and down the landing strip and I was smiling from ear to ear for weeks, I was bitten by the Rotary bug baaad.
I moved away from home and went back for a vacation a few years later and my cousin still had the same old first gen, however under the hood it was a totally different beast. He had done a manually conversion and dropped in a bridgeported 13b, that thing did not idle below 2000 rpm, it had the distinct braap..braap..braap.. idle and was pretty loud. I did not drive it but got to ride in it and that sucker was faaasst.
Since then I have always wanted an RX-7 and got 1 and now 2.
I still want a first gen with a bridgeported 13b...just for fun.
Message: This all started out back in the early 90's. I used to hang out with a group of guys who were heavily into high performance (import/Japanese) cars. I start out with a white 1987 CRX DX automatic (yuk - Mom paid for it!) as my first, new car. I liked the lightweight, tossible nature of the car, but I hated the FWD layout with the torque steer. My friends and I hung out and talked about all the Japan cars - Skyline GT-R, Silvia, 180SX, MR-2, Supra, FC, FD, Lancer - turbos of course! The majority of that stuff was not available. What was available was pretty expensive, with the exception of the FC. The other option was the AE86 or Corolla GT-S (1985-1987) or "hatchi roku"; problem is no turbo, and it could only handle about 200hp before breaking parts - this has been proven by another friend who used to NOS these things.
In the meantime, I managed to find out what hydroplaning meant - spun and totalled my '87 CRX after some rain. I almost ended up with a brand new 240SX back then, but the saleguy was too stupid. He held up the sale too long, and I managed to snag a used white 1988 CRX automatic (again!) from another car dealer; mom was still paying for it.
My first FC happened so fast, it was all a blur. A friend on mine said there was one in the local Buy&Sell (Pennysaver/free newspaper) that was a turbo, but it didn't say it was a turbo. There was a picture of it, and it cleared showed the hole-in-the-hood. We went down to check it out, and I had that same friend even test drive the car - I couldn't even drive a stick back then! He said the car drove fine - cool. Next thing I know, we were working out a deal for a trade-in on my CRX for the FC turbo. The price was kinda high ($8,995) on the FC, but they were offering $5,600 on my CRX, so it kinda balanced out. I had to convince my mom to sign the papers for the CRX over, and she was kinda pissed - one, because the car (FC) wasn't white, and two, it wasn't an automatic (she couldn't drive it). I drove her nuts for the next 2 hours begging her to sign everything over - eventually she did. What was attractive on this FC was the sunroof had NO rust on it - this made the drool factor go way up. Before I knew it, I was signing papers and giving up my CRX...
It was one helluva day that I was able to own my first FC. I never drove the damn thing myself...I never really drove a stick before...and I'm trading up to a car that had (literally) TWICE as much horsepower than my old CRX. You all know the feeling when you first feel that new-found power... I managed to stall the car about 10 times over the 5 miles to get the car home. I finally managed to get good enough in a couple weeks to not stall it at all - talk about humbling learning experience. And to think this was a STOCK turbo FC!
Since then I've owned 2 more turbo FC's...never owned an NA, and I only got to drive my roommate's NA a few weeks ago. And, as they say, the rest is history... :)
===== Ted Koseki K2RD Racing Development firstname.lastname@example.org http://k2rd.freeservers.com/ email@example.com Founded since 1999 http://rx7.foci.com/tkoseki "No excuses..."
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