It was somewhere in the middle of the last winter when I finally had to admit that my ongoing Mini project would take considerably more time to finish. Soon I found myself heading out for another ride that I could drive in the meanwhile. I restricted my search to rear-wheel drives from the 1980s. I focused on cars in excellent condition, but allowed only a small budget of a few grands. Needless to say that I finally had to strain my budget.
To pick and choose
First, my attention fell on the BMW E30 family. As long as you’re not stuck to the special editions like the M3 or its little brother the 318iS, you’ll easily find plenty of reasonable offers. But let’s talk straight: all of them are just bland copies of their famous brothers. As long as you peer to the top of the line they will always remain second-class. In this regard, a convertible seemed to be a tenable compromise to me, but after I viewed one in very doubtful condition, I ultimately realized that one of the really desirable E30s was out of budget.
I decided to crawl the market again. Rather accidentally than intentionally, I stumbled over a Mazda RX-7 from the first generation. This car wasn’t on my radar ever before and back then I hadn’t seen any first generation RX-7 in the flesh. With nowadays less than 100 of them left in Germany this comes at no surprise.
But the notion of a true sports car built around the rather unconventional rotary engine instantly convinced me. Beyond any question, this was exactly the sort of car I was searching for. The only downside: it is fairly difficult to source a good one in Germany. Therefore I extended my search to abroad and hit pay dirt in the Netherlands. I could find two promising offers and agreed with the respective owners to view the cars soon. The next Saturday, Johannes picked me up early in the morning and we set off to the region around Eindhoven.
Heading down to the Netherlands
The first car we were going to view was a red RX-7 from 1979, the first year of production. Johannes and me were both surprised how damn small this car actually is. Patrick, the owner, was extremely helpful and the RX-7 was in sound condition, but some things would have to be done. Back then I didn’t expect these things to be a big deal, but I was searching for something to drive right away as I still have the Mini project keeping me busy.
The next option was a blue RX-7 from 1981. Still the first generation, but a facelift introduced some upgrades such as bit more power and disk brakes all around. Tomas, the owner, presented the blue RX-7 in excellent condition. Although the car is nearly 40 years old, it looks like it had left the showroom yesterday. Only the muffler was leaking. Tomas took me out to an insane test drive and this finally convinced me to take this one.
Back home with my new Mazda RX-7, I tackled the formalities to license the vehicle. Most importantly I had to fix the muffler. Usually a rather simple task, but I horribly underestimated how difficult it is to source replacement parts for this car in Germany. The situation is only slightly better in other European countries. The only reliable market is in the United States and it took almost two months to solve this issue.
Finally I got the license plate and I was able to drive the RX-7 for a season now. There is plenty to say about the driving experience in a rotary-driven sports car, but the few words left in this post would not live up to expectations.
So stay tuned and read more about this in one of my next articles.