My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead

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My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

It was late Friday afternoon, and the '78 beater began making a horrible grinding sound from the front passenger wheel. Inspection of the brake rotor showed horrible wear, so I assumed the pads had worn down. I bought a set of replacement pads and took the wheel off to replace. What I found was that the front passenger hub had roughly 5MM of play, causing it to rub the caliper bracket. Obviously bad bearings. Being close to 6PM on a Friday night, I gave up and spent the evening drinking and watching "The Time Machine" (the 2002 version).

On Saturday, a few calls to various parts stores turned up a place that had the inner and outer bearing in stock, as well as the seal. By 3PM, I had my bearings. Unfortunately, leave it to Mazda to turn a 30 minute job into a weekend of hell. Those who have seen the lower caliper bracket mounting bolt on the 1st gen RX-7 know exactly what I am talking about. My mistake was that I followed the instructions in the Haynes manual instead of just removing the strut. The Haynes was pretty convincing in that you could use a wrench to remove the bolt with the strut and steering arm in place. Such is what I wasted my time on until nearly 5PM Sunday.

After trying numerous weirdly bent 14MM wrenches and a custom (ground) socket and even grinding away the metal surrounding the nut, all I had succeeded in doing was frustrating myself, wasting 16 hours and rounding off the nut. At that point, I gave up. I have a lot of patience when it comes to car stuff, but I had reached the end of it. When I found myself looking for an oxygen tank for my torch, I decided that I had already gone too far and I would just dump the car off at the mechanic Monday morning and let them deal with it. I was secure in the knowledge that I am perfectly capable of replacing a wheel bearing, and it would not be an attack on my manhood to pay someone else to do it while I went to work. Some females might disagree.

This morning I dropped the car off at the mechanic and went to work in my mom's 1990 Olds '88. A few hours later, I received a call from the mechanic. They would have to take apart most of the front passenger suspension to get the bolt. "Fine" I said, since I was more concerned about getting the car fixed then the cost. An hour later, he called again saying that he would not fix the car. It was too unsafe to be on the road and he would not be responsible.

When I saw the car on the lift, I could do nothing but agree. Those who have seen my beater will attest that it has a...small...rust situation. Well, what I saw was just plain scary. The rear suspension was being held on purely by luck. The rear wheel wells were virtually nonexistent. The frame was swiss cheese. Located where the front torsion bar mounts used to be, and indeed where there was frame before was nothing but a rust hole. Drivers door is about to fall off, and the brake master cylinder failed in the mechanic's parking lot. All 4 struts were leaking. Tranny mount was basically gone, and I could literally see the interior carpet through some of the holes in the floor.

The car is dead. It is not safe to drive and it is a wonder that I have not already died due to mechanical failure. Currently it is parked in my driveway, to be parted out when the warm weather comes.

I am not very worried. I have put 35,000 on the car since I bought it last December, with the only repairs being a clutch master and slave cylinder and a set of snow tires. The car has served me well, and my only concern right now is finding another beater in a timely manner. It is still sad to loose a car, even if it just a beater. The 1st gen RX-7 has charm, and pure feeling about it that you don't understand unless you have owned one. Even my poor example still had all the elements of this. Regardless, I hope to one day (perhaps by the end of this summer) own a 1st Gen RX-7 in good shape. Thankfully, I can still clear away the snow, open the garage door and gaze at my '86 RX-7 in it's winter home.

May you rest in piece, my '78. In death, you help other RX-7s live.

Comments From Others

My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Did you drive it home? I would have, forget towing, too much work.

(Editor's notes: Drove it home.)

My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Sunday, November 25, 2007
my rx -7 broke down and i am pissed off
My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
i have the love for my 85 rx7 FB my time to love this car came the day i rode my friends 81 "Rotary" special edition that has the lettering on the back in plain view black and red "Rx - 7" i thought these cars were made for chicks to drive and so much shit i talked about the car but yet never drove one, nor have i ever had a ride in one and one night i asked if i could get a ride to some where for a party, the car had a 13B street ported engine the body was modified some so it was sweet lookin on the outside and the next thing i know riding down the road he takes off from a red light thri the entrance to the interstate and zooming thru we're at bout 100 - 120 in no time i instantly fell in love with how fast the car can take off and suddenly alas! i bought me a 1985 mazda rx7 GS base model, ever since i cant stop driving one i've become a true rotary head like any other. :) so yeah i know how you feel about that, btw was that 78 a RHD?

(Editor's notes: Left hand drive, thankfully.)

Bill Maecker
My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
ahh, sad, yet poetic thoughts. i agree, they have a 'feel' to them, even when upside down with the engine still running, a wonderful thing. (the next 3 cars stopped and we all flipped it back over, straightened things out, restarted and drove away before any authorities arrived, thank god. (noone was hurt, or any wrongdoing envolved...) good thing for peresence of mind to turn the key off while upside down... here's a question- ever hear of someone driving an RX7 in mid winter(february), driving 8 miles and losing power to where they have to stop? i've bought one (89) and that's the story- but- of course, the mechanics assume the engine lost compression and died- which does not make sense to me, considering the inner workings of these ingenious little motors. what devices or systems could make a wankel engine lose power while driving, engine warmed up, cold outside??? thanks buffalo bill

(Editor's note: In situations like this, a compression test is the first thing to check. Assuming compression checks out, it may be that an injector has stuck open. It is very rare, but produces a symtom exactly like this.)

My '78 RX-7 Winter Beater Is Dead
Friday, March 07, 2003
Never taught of a brand new car (i.e. the Make you like)? Troublefree, never stuck aside of the road, top driving security... I know your answer is NO because I remember at your age, I was overhauling my 1600 BMW engine and it was the thrill of my life. Hey happy Birthday sorry if I'm late :)
This part of your site is very interseting, it reveal the way you think in real life. By the way, thank you, I'm very honoured to be a "2 Stars Member" instead of an apprentice. Bye now, André

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