I sold the RX-7 today.
It had always been more car than I needed, and from the beginning my feelings for it were conflicted.
I got it from my father, who got it from his brother, who bought it as a project car. It had sat in a yard for nearly a decade before my uncle bought it. The family had bought it for their son and taken it away when the speeding tickets piled up. My uncle always loved to tinker and he had a grand time restoring it.
When it ended up in my hands, I was in need of a car—any car. I couldn’t believe my luck that I was getting something so cool. But I would soon learn that cool had a price.
I loved the deep, powerful purr of the engine and the way it begged to go fast, and faster still, on the freeway. I loved its clean, sexy lines and the way Wankel engine enthusiasts would strike up conversations with me. I loved the surprise of its roomy interior—the way it could always hold way more stuff than one expected. Dan and I took several road trips in it with bikes, gear, weekend bags, a cooler and ourselves. SUV? Who needs it?
But it was a cranky car. By both age (20 yrs) and design, it seemed that something always needed fixing, and nothing was ever cheap. Even replacing a simple hose clamp could mean trouble because of the persnickety pressure requirements of the engine that required such exact tuning that the car would have to be hooked up to a shop computer and re-calibrated each time something was done under the hood. If this step wasn’t followed, the engine would die on idle unless I kept my foot on the gas—a tricky matter when you’ve also got a clutch, a brake, and only two feet.
Over the years, I replaced a lot of things and had the car repainted. I would often run the numbers in my head and wonder why I didn’t just sell the darn thing and buy something cheaper and easier to manage.
But the RX-7 was cool!
Still, I am at heart a practical person and about a year ago I finally got tired of the high price of cool. I quit driving the RX-7 because the Corolla used less gas in a month than the RX-7 did in a week, and was also easier to maneuver and cheaper to maintain.
Months passed and the RX-7 continued to sit. I would sometimes go and crank the engine, but a lot of times I was too busy to check up on it. It got dusty. I felt guilty. And finally this summer, the battery died. No surprise there.
What to do with the car was the last item on my list of things to finish at the old apartment. I needed to get it out of there and I had no place to keep it here. I could either buy the RX-7 a new battery and fix the mechanical issues I was aware of, or sell it as is.
I’m afraid it was no contest. I don’t need a powerful car like that for the weekly grocery run, and a car like that needs to be loved, maintained and driven fast. Unsure what it was worth and with no particular inclination to invest any money in figuring it out, I took it to a local dealer that specializes in RX-7s. With a jump, it started right up, to the amazement of the mechanics. But I wasn’t surprised. That car sat in the New Mexico desert for a decade. It’s a survivor.
I was quoted a price and I turned over the title. My RX-7 will most likely be the head mechanic’s new project, since in many ways it’s in better shape than his own cars. But worst case scenario, it will be parted out to other people’s well-loved project cars. Either way, I’m satisfied with the outcome.
So farewell, RX-7! You were the coolest, crankiest car I ever owned.