Mazda RX-2

Here’s my answer to the meme.

We lived in suburban Baltimore. Roads and traffic and new expressways. It was 1975. I had a job, made pretty good money, and wanted my own car. I was 17, coming into my senior year. I had several hundred dollars and I had been looking around.

I found a 1968 Mustang. Red, never wrecked, paint looked good. V-8, 4 speed. My memory is they wanted enough money that my dad would have had to co-sign the note. He refused. He said the car was too old, would need too much work, he probably said more, but by then I wasn’t listening.

So he went looking. He knew someone at the Ford dealership, and they had taken a 2 year old Mazda in trade, and wanted to move it off the lot. It was a metallic blue four door sedan. A small imported box. Wanting a car of my own bad enough to accept almost anything, I went down to take it for a test drive.

Mazdas had a rotary engine, and this one was coupled to a 4 speed manual gearbox. It started up easily enough and since I was a known quantity because of my dad I took it out alone. I could handle a clutch okay, and went tooling along thinking what a dull little car it was and how was I going to tell my dad no when I decided to take it out on the Baltimore beltway.

KAZAAM!! I put my foot in it in second gear, hit the shift to third and at the top of the ramp had to slow down because I had been going 90 miles an hour in third gear and accelerating. I eased off, rode around a little bit and took it back. I thanked my dad for finding me a car, we went down and bought it. He didn’t drive it for several weeks until he borrowed it one day when his was being serviced. He came back in smiling and said, “Well, I see why you like it, it gets right up and walks the dog, doesn’t it?” I tried to shrug it off, but I figure he saw right through me.

So here’s my answer to question 1. My first car was a 1973 Mazda Rx-2, metallic blue, with about 40,000 miles on it and it looked new. Rotary engine. Man, it’s a wonder I’m here to tell the tale. They were raced, both 1/4 mile and oval track, and they are still popular in New Zealand and Australia.

Question 2. The rotor seals failed the following spring, there was a recall on them, so it might have been me, but it really might have been a design flaw. I swapped the engine myself, with one out of a junkyard wreck. It was my first major car repair and it deserves a post in itself. It took me most of a week, and at the end of it I owned some tools, and had an idea how to install distributors, align a clutch, and all the other various things that have to be done to get a car back on the road. That was the worst of the things that broke, and after that I was ready for just about anything.

I drove it to Ocean City, Md. with friends a few times. My best friend and I cruised in it on the weekends, and he still talks about it when we get together. It was the car I owned it when I met my wife, it is the car we dated in. Good times. The windows down, cruising some country roads with the radio turned up, sure of my immortality.

Question 3. I left it behind when I joined the Marines. It still ran, but I had taken most of the life out of it. It would have needed a major overhaul. It sat at my parents for months. I drove it when I went home on leave, but didn’t take it with me. They sold it for about what the motor was worth and it passed out of my life. My pictures were not to be found, but here’s the Wiki link and pic.

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