The Truth About Cars » RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Mazda RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7-2/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809562 First-gen RX-7s aren’t uncommon in wrecking yards in the western part of the country, as demonstrated by this ’79, this ’80 with incredibly of-its-time custom paint, and this fairly solid ’85. In fact, I don’t bother to photograph most of the examples I see. Today’s ’79, with its brown-and-beige tape stripes, seemed worthy of inclusion […]

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01 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFirst-gen RX-7s aren’t uncommon in wrecking yards in the western part of the country, as demonstrated by this ’79, this ’80 with incredibly of-its-time custom paint, and this fairly solid ’85. In fact, I don’t bother to photograph most of the examples I see. Today’s ’79, with its brown-and-beige tape stripes, seemed worthy of inclusion in the Junkyard Find series, though.
09 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s fairly complete, the body is straight, and there’s no rust.
06 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s difficult to get these cars through the California emissions test, though, even with the not-so-stringent requirements for the 1979 model year.
04 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like the dash and the door panels have been pulled.
08 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPoor doomed RX-7.

The car you’ve been waiting for is waiting for you!

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Mazda RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/junkyard-find-1979-mazda-rx-7/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=522273 First-gen Mazda RX-7s aren’t difficult to find in self-service wrecking yards (we just saw this ’80 with Flashdance-grade custom paint and this fairly solid ’85), and so most of them don’t make it into this series. During my recent trip to California for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, I stopped at […]

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06 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFirst-gen Mazda RX-7s aren’t difficult to find in self-service wrecking yards (we just saw this ’80 with Flashdance-grade custom paint and this fairly solid ’85), and so most of them don’t make it into this series. During my recent trip to California for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race in history, I stopped at one of my favorite East Bay wrecking yards and found this utterly rust-free example of one of the few bright spots of the Malaise Era.
02 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomebody has grabbed the complete dash, but the no-doubt-Quaalude-saturated driver’s seat is still present.
09 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe 12A engine made just 100 horsepower in ’79, but that was pretty serious stuff at the time (keep in mind that the most powerful engine you could get in the ’79 Corvette made just 225 horsepower, and that the RX-7 of this period weighed less than 2,500 pounds). Sure, your grandma’s 11-year-old four-cylinder Camry will beat a ’79 RX-7 in a drag race, but the Malaise Era had different standards for cars.
07 - 1979 Mazda RX-7 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t often see gas struts on junkyard cars that still work— someone will buy these for sure!

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This Dorky Kid Is Really Cool, Actually http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/this-dorky-kid-is-really-cool-actually/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/this-dorky-kid-is-really-cool-actually/#comments Thu, 14 Feb 2013 14:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477386 “It fuel starves on left turns on about… seventy Ohms.” Now that is not something you hear every day about a “tuner car”, is it? DRIVE’s Matt Farah checks out a homemade contraption consisting of a late-first-gen RX-7 and a five-liter Ford V-8. (The old five-liter, mind you, not the Coyote mod motor.) “Never a […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

“It fuel starves on left turns on about… seventy Ohms.”

Now that is not something you hear every day about a “tuner car”, is it?

DRIVE’s Matt Farah checks out a homemade contraption consisting of a late-first-gen RX-7 and a five-liter Ford V-8. (The old five-liter, mind you, not the Coyote mod motor.) “Never a dull moment,” he says, and he’s correct.

The owner, Corbin, is a modern example of a recurring American character: The Kid In The Garage Building His Own Hot-Rod Car. Since we’re in 2013, he’s an awkward Asperger’s case hiding behind sunglasses instead of a James Dean wannabe with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his shirtsleeve, but the dynamic is the same. Built, not bought; invented, not acquired. Watching this video is a great way to wash the taste of the Magnus Walker hagiography out of your mind. Check it out, and leave a comment so the DRIVE team knows you’re watching.

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Mazda RX-7, with Incredibly 80s Custom Paint http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1980-mazda-rx-7-with-incredibly-80s-custom-paint/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/junkyard-find-1980-mazda-rx-7-with-incredibly-80s-custom-paint/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467493 First-generation RX-7s aren’t uncommon Junkyard Finds, even though the youngest ones are 27 years old now. However, not many full-on early-to-mid-80s custom paint jobs show up at junkyards these days. Here’s one I found in Denver last week. Purple, pink, and gold with pinstripes! With a 5-digit odometer, there’s no way of knowing how many […]

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First-generation RX-7s aren’t uncommon Junkyard Finds, even though the youngest ones are 27 years old now. However, not many full-on early-to-mid-80s custom paint jobs show up at junkyards these days. Here’s one I found in Denver last week.
Purple, pink, and gold with pinstripes!
With a 5-digit odometer, there’s no way of knowing how many miles this car traveled during its 32 years on the planet. 88,000? 188,000? 288,000? It seems pretty clean, given its current parking space, so the first figure could be the right one.
It’s possible that this wild paint job got sprayed on while Jimmy Carter was still in the White House, or perhaps it was applied five years ago. So many mysteries with a car like this!

28 MPG in an early RX-7? Ah, for the days when highway fuel economy was calculated at 42 MPH… down a steep grade… drafting behind a line of tractor-trailers.

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Mazda RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1985-mazda-rx-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1985-mazda-rx-7/#comments Thu, 16 Aug 2012 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456771 Back when I reviewed the final Mazda RX-8, I ranted on at some length about my envy of my RX-7-driving college classmates who were the rich sons of high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers and government officials. Still, except when I was shopping for a Mazda rear end for my 20R Sprite Hell Project, I haven’t […]

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Back when I reviewed the final Mazda RX-8, I ranted on at some length about my envy of my RX-7-driving college classmates who were the rich sons of high-ranking South Vietnamese military officers and government officials. Still, except when I was shopping for a Mazda rear end for my 20R Sprite Hell Project, I haven’t paid much attention to the many RX-7s I’ve seen in wrecking yards over the years. First-gen examples aren’t uncommon even today; here’s an ’85 I found in a Denver yard last week.
It didn’t quite manage to get to 150,000 miles. That speedometer looks more 2000s than 1980s; Mazda wasn’t as much into Mars Base-style instruments as the other Japanese manufacturers of the era.
The interior is worn, but not nearly as beat as most mid-80s cars I see around here.
The good old Mazda 12A Wankel engine.
You’ll find one in every car, kid. You’ll see.

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Capsule Review: 1993 Mazda RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 16:30:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456160 Bribery! While TTAC has a Get Behind Me Satan approach to the buffet-table and the press junket, we’re still mostly susceptible to the kryptonite lure of interesting cars. So when Mazda called me up and asked if I’d like to sample a little of their driving heritage in a blatant PR move, I huffily told […]

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Bribery! While TTAC has a Get Behind Me Satan approach to the buffet-table and the press junket, we’re still mostly susceptible to the kryptonite lure of interesting cars.

So when Mazda called me up and asked if I’d like to sample a little of their driving heritage in a blatant PR move, I huffily told them that I could not in good conscience be complicit in helping further burnish their brand image as a manufacturer of sporting products. I reminded them that I thought the Mazda2 too slow, the Mazda3 too ugly, the Mazdaspeed3 possessed of worse torque steer than a one-legged unicyclist, the cabin of the MX-5 designed for people with short legs and prehensile elbows, and that they didn’t even build a rotary engine any more, so what was the point?

Naturally, I said all these things in my internal voice during the 3.7 nanosecond pause before, “OohyespleaseWhencanIpickitupHowaboutnow?”

Who’s ready for some yellow journalism?


I was fifteen when the RX-7 bowed. Fifteen and land-locked up in the hills of Ryder Lake, a good half-hour drive from most of my friends. I’d been technically capable of driving for years, just not legally allowed to, and the prospect of my learner’s license danced on the horizon, as tantalizing as the ladies in Playboy Magazine- bzzt. Victoria’s Secret- bzzt. Sears catalog- ding!

Meanwhile, the industrious people of Nippon were building some of the hottest machinery ever to come out of that country: the last Samurai of the twilight of the Japanese automotive empire.

The NSX put Ferrari on notice. The 300ZX twin-turbo wanted to play hide and seek with the Corvette. The Twin-Turbo MKIV Supra strode the land like a colossus, and – were you a fan of Queen’s “Fat-Bottomed Girls” – there was always the all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4.

The Japanese had all gone completely supercar-bonkers: name a manufacturer and they had a heavyweight in the ring. And then along came Mazda and a slight *pop* was heard as my fifteen-year-old brain exploded.

Even now, even in this somewhat garish hue, this car is beautifully-proportioned. It’s old enough to drink (at least, in this country it is), and yet if the sheets had come off the first FT-86 concept to reveal this shape, everyone would have cheered lustily. After my couldn’t-care-less-about-cars wife followed it through traffic as I dropped it off, she remarked, “I can’t believe it’s not a new car!”

Me either, although this one shows evidence of being repainted. No surprise to ’90s Mazda owners, the paint on my old MX-6 certainly faded from Testarossa to General Lee.

Aside from the paint, it’s factory-fresh in basic trim, with the original lightweight 16” alloys and pop-up headlights. This car sat somnolent in the lobby of Mazda’s head offices in Ontario for some time and has just 20,000kms on the clock. Let’s show it some coastal hospitality.

Forget the modern exterior – the interior of this machine is pure 90s – it’s Ace of Basic, if you will. Cloth seats, cramped quarters and a dearth of amenities: the steering wheel doesn’t adjust and you only get the simplest of gauges. Luckily, I was easily able to install satellite navigation, and internet connectivity…

Everything’s operational! Apart from the mirror adjustment controller. And one of the speakers. And if you go around a corner too quickly, the radio head-unit resets itself and fills the cabin with raspy static. “The air-conditioning works!” as I was proudly told when I picked up the car – it does, but only in a Neville Chamberlain sort of way. Still, these are merely the flesh wounds of time.

And nothing compared to what might not be working on this gorgeous, somewhat temperamental machine. The explosive potential of what lies underhood is legendary: the twin-turbo rotary engine’s fragility makes Royal Doulton look like depleted uranium. I certainly hope whoever had this thing before me didn’t cheap out and fill it with regular.

I coddle the car through the first few miles, letting her get up to operating temperature. It really does smell like the ’90s in here – an unidentifiable plastic miasma that’s exactly like my old Mazda. It’s a whiff of the past, a techno variant of the horse-hair and vinyl that always gets the old codgers all misty.

The needle on the temperature gauge reads 3/4s from “H” – operating temperature as per instructions. It’s fifty klicks to my house, I gotta full tank of gas, half a working stereo, it’s sunny out and I forgot my sunglasses.

Hit it.

Listen kids, don’t meet your heroes.*
*- Unless your heroes happen to kick all 31 flavours of ass.

There’s an old Monty Python sketch which has John Cleese teaching a class called something like, Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit. At one point, Cleese shouts, “Come at me with that banana!” I come at Vancouver with that banana.

The FD-chassis RX-7’s brittle, sequentially-turbocharged 13b has 255hp (at least it did when new) and the car weighs just 2800lbs. It has a suspension designed with the help of 1990s supercomputers (wow!), a limited slip differential, four-channel anti-lock brakes and traction control in the form of four round black things called “tires” that provide traction. When they’re not too busy screaming.

The low-end power from the smaller turbo provides slingshot torque that has me questioning whether I should bother dipping into the big boost. Oh, go on then. The rotary noticeably pauses before the bigger blower comes online – somewhat alarming given the reputation and the questionable provenance of the fuel, but she pulls strongly, blitzing the onramp and howling through a tile-walled tunnel.

I sit low, snugged in tight by the bolstered seats and fixed steering wheel. It feels very much like a long-nosed Miata with a weirdly satisfying motor (the startup whirr is absurdly sci-fi), and it can and will pitch sideways if flung at a corner in a manner that’d have the entire Initial-D cast eating their improbable hairdos in envy.

It’s raw and elemental and whoopsy-daisy fast, and everything I’d hoped it would be. Every chance I get, I’m out there behind the wheel of Unmellow Yellow, attacking the undulating tarmac with- dear Christ in Heaven, am I out of gas AGAIN?

What killed the RX-7? Well, yes, the tendency to go through apex seals didn’t help, and neither did the astronomical price (this one cost about $45K new, which in 1990s money is approximately one hundred million billion dollars). What kills driving one around today is the fuel economy. Actually scratch that: you can argue that the RX-7 gets oil economy, but when it comes to its gasoline usage, you can’t really use the word “economy”. It gets fuel uneconomy.

In the short week I had it, this thing was costing me about $20 worth of 94 octane gas for every thirty miles of driving I did. The ‘vette I currently have is doing considerably better. Solution: swap in an LS7 for fuel-savings – that’s the kinda hybrid I can get behind!

Even so, the RX-7 provided a brief glimpse of a lost time. While the GT-R can be said to be carrying that world-beating torch for Japan, it’s the antithesis of the RX in many ways. It’s a different kind of dream to a different set of engineers – you might as well compare a katana to a cruise missile.

Expensive to buy, unreliable to own, costly to keep on the road and borderline dangerous in the wet.

In other words: utterly fantastic. I miss it.

Mazda provided the vehicle tested and insurance.

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New or Used: Ending 2011 with a Bang! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-ending-2011-with-a-bang/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-ending-2011-with-a-bang/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2011 18:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423909 Danny writes: I am looking to buy an RX-7 (FC) convertible. I currently own a hand me down 2000 Honda Accord V6 from my mother in law. this car drinks WAY too much gas. 20 dollars in 89 octane gas DAILY! my commute is about 50 miles round trip. but I always loved Mazdas my dad had a […]

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Danny writes:

I am looking to buy an RX-7 (FC) convertible. I currently own a hand me down 2000 Honda Accord V6 from my mother in law. this car drinks WAY too much gas. 20 dollars in 89 octane gas DAILY! my commute is about 50 miles round trip. but I always loved Mazdas my dad had a 1984 323 with a 1.3, a 929 with the V6. I grew up playing with FDs in Gran Turismo. now that I can buy a cheap used car I was thinking about an FC convertible. BUT the major problem that I have is my job, I work for a Chevy dealership as a salesman. The GSM and the SM fired a guy who bought a Toyota Corolla S brand new.

I don’t wanna lose my job but I LOVE the FC and will not buy anything else, I know rotaries are as unreliable as an iron duke but that doesn’t matter. I have access to a repair shop so free labor is there. the parts might be a problem, though i think there are plenty of them in my local junk yard. so please help me figure out my dilemma I Don’t want to drive that POS accord in the summer heat, because it has no A/C, brakes are almost shot.

Sajeev answers:

So let me get this straight…your POS Accord drinks too much gas and you want to replace it with the bastion of efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness: an old RX-7? Really???

You just complained about getting kicked in the stomach, and subsequently ask to get kneed in the nuts. Because someone who doesn’t want to fix a somewhat old Accord (even with free labor) and wants to buy an ancient RX-7 is asking for said attack on one’s crotch. I would say that you should wear a cup, but that won’t help. The knee will hit with way too much force to your crotch. I mean wallet.

I like the part where you mentioned your dealership fired someone for buying a Corolla. While owning a Corolla is (often) punishment in itself, getting fired over it is a good reason to get a lawyer. Obviously you have to document every interaction where said employee was harassed for their car. Print out emails, wear a wire, write a journal with all the details, etc. That could be kinda fun. And hey, we all know that salesmen do have fair bit of downtime after the holidays!

I’m not kidding, after getting fired for a similarly idiotic reason a few years back. Plus, now I know what to do. And I might even have fun with it, if it happened again. Regarding your severely misguided passion for RX-7s, I suspect you’ll only learn from your mistakes by burning your hand on the waffle iron.  Enjoy the pain, but try to find a kevlar-reinforced cup.

 

 

Steve answers:

At first I thought you were plain nuts. But then I saw your French email address and figured that unreliable cars may just run in your blood.

Yes, the Accord is a truly terrible vehicle… if you’re one of those who fears ‘overquality’. What you need is a car that has the turn stalk on the wrong side, a powertrain that’s guaranteed to break sometime around Bastille Day, and an interior that biodegrades over time.

I do know of at least 3 Peugeot 405’s that have remained untouched since I harvested them for parts back in the late 90’s. But you are hungering for power instead of pauper. What can moi offer you?

Well, I took my family to a bowling alley earlier today, and there in all it’s glory was a red 1975 Ford Granada with the Cleveland V8 engine. The vinyl red interior is still completely intact and the manager told me that it’s only been sitting there for four months.We call that ‘free pickins’ here in Georgia; especially since cars older than 1986 don’t require a title here.

This would the perfect car to bring to your dealership. Just rip off the Ford emblem, replace the ‘Granada’ emblem with ‘Grand Am’, and you’re set. Now onto the RX-7.

 

They’re cheap at the auctions. Dirt, dirt, cheap. You can get an inoperable one for around $1000 and then buy a nice spare engine at car-part.com. Ummm… well… forget that actually . There are no replacement engines for the last Gen RX-7. Murilee and his damned LeMons racers destroyed them all.

I’ll tell you what though. Go to Carmax and tell them of all the woes this cretinous Honda has inflicted on you. Whatever they offer, I’ll beat it by $200. Between now and then, look at Craigslist and keep abreast of what salvage auctions such as Copart and Insurance Auto Auctions have to offer you.

Good luck!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Down On the 1993 Hayward Street: Ripped-n-Stripped Victims http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-1993-hayward-street-ripped-n-stripped-victims/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-1993-hayward-street-ripped-n-stripped-victims/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2011 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410698 When scanning old negatives for the most recent installment of the Impala Hell Project series, I found these Ansco Pix Panorama camera shots that I took in gritty, grimy, industrial Hayward, California in 1993. They didn’t add anything to the Impala Hell Project story, so I’m sharing them in a separate post. The Fish Driver […]

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When scanning old negatives for the most recent installment of the Impala Hell Project series, I found these Ansco Pix Panorama camera shots that I took in gritty, grimy, industrial Hayward, California in 1993. They didn’t add anything to the Impala Hell Project story, so I’m sharing them in a separate post.
The Fish Driver Warehouse was not far from the site of the now-defunct Hayward Pick Your Part, a yard I’d been visiting since the mid-1980s, and the stretch of West Winton Avenue right outside the junkyard gates was a popular spot to yank parts off stolen and/or unwanted vehicles. Nowadays, with scrap metal prices so high, you wouldn’t see a scene like this.
A de-fendered first-gen RX-7 parked in front of a scissors-jack-suspended Pinto wagon. One thing hasn’t changed: old beater RX-7s still aren’t worth much.
I took this shot through the fence of the Pick Your Part holding area. Look, it’s a Rover P5! Anybody want to take a shot at identifying the ancient truck in the foreground and the sedan in the background?

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And the Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/and-the-winner-is-16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/and-the-winner-is-16/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2011 01:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402114 At the end of yesterday’s race session, it appeared that we had a Stealth-626-Supra battle for the B.F.E. GP win on laps. All day today, however, the Ghetto Motorsports Mazda RX-7 (winner of the 2010 B.F.E. GP, not to mention the LeMons Mountain Region championship) kept creeping up on the 1-2-3 cars. Late in today’s […]

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At the end of yesterday’s race session, it appeared that we had a Stealth-626-Supra battle for the B.F.E. GP win on laps. All day today, however, the Ghetto Motorsports Mazda RX-7 (winner of the 2010 B.F.E. GP, not to mention the LeMons Mountain Region championship) kept creeping up on the 1-2-3 cars.

Late in today’s race session, Ghetto Motorsports took the lead, grabbing the second-quickest lap time of the race in the process (the quickest lap was turned by the heavily-BS-lap-zapped turbocharged B18C-engined Civic of Casino Racing). When the checkered flag waved, Ghetto Motorsports had a little over a one-lap lead on the second-place car… and needed every bit of that lead, because its ignition coil crapped out right at the end. Congratulations, Ghetto Motorsports!
Note: For more B.F.E. GP adventures, check out Longroofian’s coverage over at Hooniverse.

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And the Real Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/and-the-real-winner-is-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/and-the-real-winner-is-8/#comments Mon, 25 Apr 2011 07:50:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=392876 The Index of Effluency, 24 Hours of LeMons racing’s top prize, goes to the team that achieves beyond all expectations in an unspeakably terrible car. That means, most of the time, something like an MGB-GT or Chevy S10. A 1987 Mazda RX-7, a pretty quick and reliable car in most cases, wouldn’t qualify for IOE […]

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The Index of Effluency, 24 Hours of LeMons racing’s top prize, goes to the team that achieves beyond all expectations in an unspeakably terrible car. That means, most of the time, something like an MGB-GT or Chevy S10. A 1987 Mazda RX-7, a pretty quick and reliable car in most cases, wouldn’t qualify for IOE status… under normal circumstances. In the case of the lunatic Texans of Team Sensory Assault, however, we’ve got a silk purse that’s been turned into a sow’s ear, then shot full of holes, fed through a shredder, and boiled in chlorine triflouride.

After about 10 LeMons races, Sensory Assault had managed to achieve Ununhexium Legend of LeMons status, mostly due to to antics such as their unsafe-n-insane LeMons Line-Lock and their exhaust-heat-operated rib-cooker. That didn’t mean that they did so well in the standings at any of their races, with black flags and busted RX-7 parts keeping them down in the celler of the standings, race after race. Adding a junkyard turbocharger to the car served to make the car even worse, a feat we didn’t believe possible. Their best performance, prior to the North Dallas Hooptie, was something like 39th place. This weekend, however, Sensory Assault managed to get their horrid pink hooptie into ninth place. Will they ever manage to do such a thing again? Probably not. For now, though, IOE glory is theirs. Congratulations, Sensory Assault!

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Capsule Review: 1993 Mazda RX-7 and The Finest In Men’s… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7-and-the-finest-in-mens/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/capsule-review-1993-mazda-rx-7-and-the-finest-in-mens/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367807 More than a few of you had a simple question (or statement) regarding my Infiniti G20 Capsule Review, namely, “Why didn’t you check the mileage of the dealer trade?” The answer is simple: I wasn’t even permitted to call other dealerships, much less arrange trades. At that particular shop, salespeople weren’t even permitted to see […]

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More than a few of you had a simple question (or statement) regarding my Infiniti G20 Capsule Review, namely,

“Why didn’t you check the mileage of the dealer trade?”

The answer is simple: I wasn’t even permitted to call other dealerships, much less arrange trades. At that particular shop, salespeople weren’t even permitted to see the final numbers at deals. We were intended to be “product specialists”, not wheeler-dealers.

In fact, our rather idealistic general manager believed in specifically hiring people with no experience in the industry. His boss, the dealer group manager, had deep roots in the buy-here-pay-here biz. The conflict between these two philosophies occasionally led to trouble…

“AND ANOTHER THING,” the group manager boomed in our monthly meeting. “NOBODY, AND I MEAN NOBODY, DRIVES THAT F***ING MAZDA RX-7 WITHOUT MY APPROVAL. YOU F***ING CALL ME IF YOU HAVE AN UP ON IT!!!! NOBODY DRIVES IT!!! YOU IDIOTS WILL WRECK IT!!!” What was he talking about? I was always half-asleep on Saturday mornings. We had an RX-7? I walked out to the lot afterwards and sure enough, it was up on a metal display ramp: a 1993 RX-7 Twin Turbo, dark green, 8,900 miles.

Where did it come from? Nobody seemed to know. The other salespeople gathered around the car. We were: two recent liberal arts graduates, one middle-aged former trophy wife and one twentysomething current trophy wife who would later on both become representatives for the local upscale homebuilder, a former yacht salesman, and a trim, impeccably preppy African-American fellow who had just arrived from the only Brioni retailer in Columbus, Ohio. The group manager hated our guts and loved screaming at us about how we were suburban candy-assed homosexuals.

Everything we did was wrong in this dude’s opinion, so he prevented us from doing anything. We weren’t permitted to truly work deals. We were not allowed to quote any price to the customer but MSRP. We couldn’t make dealer trades, we couldn’t even book cars into the detailing shop without manager approval. The store had two sales managers, a general manager, and this “group manager” who worked in Louisville but made a monthly trip up Route 71 to scream at us. They “did the work”. We were expected to be like the shoji screens around the cars: upper-middle-class set dressing.

I was ambivalent about the job, to put it mildly, so the moment I saw this RX-7 I started out figuring out how I was going to get behind the wheel. In terms of raw acceleration, it would be the fastest car I’d yet driven, not that much slower in the quarter-mile than my tired old Ninja 600R. It was sexy. Years later, Jeremy Clarkson would call it the “Japanese E-Type”, and that’s a fair description.

After some thought, I decided on the simplest approach. Since everybody knew that death and fury awaited anyone who drove the car without permission, it followed naturally that anybody seen taking the car off the rack would be assumed to have permission. I therefore went back to the key box, grabbed the appropriate tag, and ten minutes later I was beeping the horn at my house as my seventeen-year-old brother ran out the door towards me.

“Dude,” I said, “let’s thrash this bitch”. For half an hour, we zipped around our square-mile subdivision like crazy men. I floored the throttle and the brake on entry to each corner, as I had read was the practice of the late great Mark Donohue, and exited each one sideways and smoking. Sure, we were doing fifty miles per hour at the most, but it was awesome fun. Then my brother had an idea.

“I should drive.”

“Why not?” I replied. After all, he had six months’ of experience driving a 1993 Jetta. After a few false starts and one very slow-speed bump up a rounded-off curb, he had the hang of it and was going crazy. We were looking at somebody’s lawn through the windshield, totally crossed-up, the tach bouncing wildly around, beeping, buzzing, when BANG! something went wrong. The Mazda coasted to a halt, smoking.

“That’s gotta be bad,” he said. We swapped places and I started the car. It ran, but it was slower than my 1990 Fox and it was smoking copiously. I dropped him off and considered my options. Nobody had actually seen me take the car off the rack. It was possible that nobody would see me put it back on. It was even more possible that nobody would see me pull it into the detail shop. I called Chauncey over.

“Hey man, a bird shit all over this thing.” Chauncey looked at it.

“Where?”

“How should I know? Group manager says clean it, I didn’t look.” That was enough for Chauncey, who cleaned an already clean car and drove it slowly up the ramp. If anybody saw him doing it, they didn’t seem to care. We were not encouraged to take an interest in the operation of the dealership.

I walked up to the front desk in what I believed to be an extremely nonchalant fashion. Our new salesperson was industriously composing a letter to be sent to his contact list of over 600 Columbus bigwigs. He’d created this list one whale at a time as he humbly measured our city’s bankers, judges, and newspaper owners for their 52S three-pieces. It was a killer contact list, believe me. Not a single five-figure loser on it. He walked away to answer the call of nature and I looked at the screen.

Dear [NAME],

My name is (blah blah) and I have recently left (name of clothing shop) to work at (name of Infiniti dealer). As you are aware, I have been associated with the finest in men’s clothing for over a decade and have now chosen to bring my unique perspective to the world of luxury automobiles….

Quick as thought, I replaced “clothing” with “pimping” and stood back to admire my handiwork. Wait ’till he saw this! This was so good, I decided to retreat to a nearby couch and watch as he walked up, scanned the letter…

…and hit PRINT. Six hundred letters, all on creamy paper stock chosen for the occasion, started to roll off the printer. Well, to misquote Harry Chapin, another man might have been sorry, and another man might have been regretful, but another man wouldn’t have replaced “clothing” with “pimping”. I hopped on my Ninja and went out for the second lunch of the day.

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Perennial Wankel Woes Holding Up New RX-7 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/perennial-wankel-woes-holding-up-new-rx-7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/perennial-wankel-woes-holding-up-new-rx-7/#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2010 22:02:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341092 A few weeks ago, I wrote about Mazda’s new RX-7, scheduled for release in 2011. Well, that now looks unlikely. In fact, Mazda have put the release date as unknown, ushering the wankel warrior into the dreaded category known as development hell. Autocar reports that the development of Mazda’s new RX-7 is plagued with problems. The […]

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Poor Felix... (courtesy:citroenet.org.uk)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Mazda’s new RX-7, scheduled for release in 2011. Well, that now looks unlikely. In fact, Mazda have put the release date as unknown, ushering the wankel warrior into the dreaded category known as development hell. Autocar reports that the development of Mazda’s new RX-7 is plagued with problems. The RX-8 had problems with fuel economy and high oil consumption and the Mazda engineers are no closer to solving them with the new RX-7. They could solve the problem by adding direct injection, but that’ll drive them into another problem. The DI components would make the RX-7’s engine weigh more than the current 13B motor, an outcome that would be in direct conflict with Mazda’s vision of cutting 100kg from all its cars in the next five years. Other problems, include lack of mid-range torque and trying to get the current engine to reach their target for maximum revs. Couple these problems with Mazda’s sales dropping 19% and the prognosis doesn’t look good.

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