The premise of this weekly column is that it’s fun to search for cars on a limited budget. Many consumers find themselves looking in this price range, I’m here to help you car shop.
The only rule here is that RULES are meant to be broken:
- The car must be listed on www.CARS.com or www.AutoTrader.com, www.Craigslist.com, or www.Bringatrailer.com.
- It must be for sale by the time this article comes out.
- It must be under $5,000.
- It can be any type of car. Bonus points for enthusiast cars.
- It must be for sale in the United States (local in DC is best).
- Creativity (I know it when I see it) is welcomed.
- I’m open to submissions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s winner, a 1986 Mazda RX-7, is for sale in Silver Spring, Md., on Craigslist, buy here.
NOTE: Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware. This is not an endorsement of this particular car for sale. I have not driven it nor do I know the seller.
In a previous post I compared the Mazda RX-8 R3 to kimchi. If the Mazda RX-8 R3 is kimchi, then the first generation RX-7 (chassis codes SA/FB) is stinky tofu. Most enthusiasts dismiss the FB RX-7 as the forgotten, unloved, underpowered RX-7, but if you can get past its “stinky” reputation — the FB RX-7 is the a true automotive delicacy.
Most first-generation RX-7s have been sent to the crusher, with their daft rotary engine labeled as unreliable. That’s why if you can find a nice one, you will have unlocked the car world’s greatest treasure: a sharp designed, high-revving, lightweight, cheap, balanced sports car.
When Mazda introduced the RX-7 in 1979 it shocked the sports car world. Sports cars of the time were bloated by manufacturers attempting to meet new crash test standards. The RX-7 was the answer to enthusiast’s prayers because of it was affordable, and lightweight..
During its six year run, RX-7 had two different rotary engine configurations. The first was known as the 12A, a 1.1-liter rotary engine making 100-hp at 6,000 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm. The 12A could push the RX-7 to 60 mph in 10 seconds flat a good sprint, not a great one. But the small displacement engine allowed the RX-7 to have a near 50/50 weight distribution.
The 13B engine debuted in 1984 and it’s the one you want. It was available from 1984-85, displacing a mighty 1.3-liters. It made 30 percent more horsepower and torque over the 12A (135-hp at 6,000rpm and 133 lb-ft of torque at 2,750), and dropped the 0-60 time by two seconds.
Enthusiasts have focused all their attention to the FD RX-7 (1993-1997). Its twin turbo engine, Fast and the Furious credibility and sleek design have hypnotized folks into paying top dollar. The first generation RX-7 is listed on “John Phillips: Ten Cars That Most Surprised 10 C/D Editors,” stating the RX-7 has the ability to breathe life into the soulless sports car world. If you can get over the “stink” of the first generation RX-7, it should in your garage.
That’s why when I found this 1985 RX-7 on Craigslist for $6,000, I had to post it here. Even though it breaks one of my “unbreakable” rules, cracking the $5,000 limit. I was so enthused by this RX-7, I reached out to the owner to find out more. Roger told me that he purchased this RX-7 from the ORIGINAL OWNER and he has every service record. Having the total service history is super important when you are buying a 30 year old sports car. It had been sitting in a garage for the last 10 years, when Roger saw it at a garage sale and had to have it. I asked if it was the desired GSL-SE model, but he was unsure. It has been looked over by his mechanic and is in new working order. It has new tires, no leaks, new carburetor, new fluids, and a near perfect interior. It’s rare to find an RX-7 with such low miles (49,000) and in this kind of original condition.
Doing this weekly series of cars is tough, because each week I fall in love again. Like all the great sport cars of the past, eventually enthusiast will catch on and prices will go up.
Here are the pictures from Craigslist.