Car: Mazda RX-7 Type R
Owned since: 2011
Previously owned: Mazda MX-5 Mk1 (x2, modified), Toyota MR2 Mk1s x3 (modified/standard), Nissan 200SX RS13 (modified), Suzuki Ignis Sport (standard)
"I probably first saw RX-7s in the 'Turbo Dreams' videos when I was at school - me and my best mate were really into JDM cars as his dad owned a MkIV Supra TT. These videos were of the Florida street racing scene; mainly Supras racing each other but also a couple of 3000GTs, some bikes and a lone red RX-7 which just looked so different to my young eyes. I would draw them at school instead of listening to the teachers and over the years that childhood fantasy never really went away. When I was 15 I went to a local 'cruise' (like a chav, yes) and some particularly dodgy bloke offered to sell me his battered yellow FD in the car park. I tried every trick in the book on my old man but he just wouldn't lend me the cash."
"Then in 2011 I was finally at a stage in my adult life where I could afford and insure one - they were at the very bottom of their price scale and with only a £4K budget I managed to secure a low-mileage, grade four import Type R. I'd done all my research, spent weeks reading about the pitfalls of rotaries and had a shortlist of eligible cars to purchase. But I bought literally the first one I went to look at and it broke down two miles into the journey home. That moment I saw my other half's head hit her hands I knew I'd made the right choice."
"There are things I would like to think I would do differently if I were to go out and buy another, but I get a little bit giddy when it comes to buying new cars which is why I usually end up with fairly terrible examples. The only car I've ever bought properly was one of the MR2s, a pristine, low-mileage and totally original car that had been garaged all of its life. I reluctantly sold it to a friend after two weeks as he was desperate for his first sports car. Within 24 hours he had put it backwards into a ditch and written it off. There's a lesson in there somewhere - probably to buy with your head and not your heart. With rotaries, I would say either to buy one that's been compression-tested or buy one knowing that you will rebuild it. Probably the latter."
Things I love:
"I love everything about it. Genuinely. I love how it drives first and foremost, it's like a big MX-5 essentially. Very grippy, well-behaved, sharp, predictable and forgiving. Also the sound it makes is so unique for a car like this, even at idle. I love that nobody knows what car it is and that every time I fill it up, strangers will go out of their way to strike up a conversation up about it. Most of all though, the way it looks.
"On a sunny day, seeing the shadow of the car alongside you while you're driving really shows off the curves and lines of the thing. At night, being slung low into the seat with the high doorline, sleek drop of the bonnet and the loud exhaust drone it makes you feel like Batman; a feeling that only increases when you step out of the cabin and look at it. The whole car is theatrical and every part of it makes you feel like the star in your own film, in a way that I've never experienced with any other car. I get to drive a lot of supercars at work of all ages and none of them excite me in the way this does."
"There's no two-ways about it, the car is pretty high maintenance. Oil changes need to be religious and being a black car it stays clean for about 15 seconds. It has to be warmed up and down properly, so no getting it out of the garage and then turning it off. When I was using it daily, it sometimes became a bit of a chore. The noise can make you less popular with the neighbours too - I used to get up at 5am for work, so would turn the ignition on and coast away from the house until I got as far as the neighbours I didn't really care about."
"In terms of cost to buy, these cars have been appreciating steadily over the last couple of years as most have. What set me back £4K in 2011 would likely set me back £12K in today's money, not that it makes any difference to me as I'll be buried in it. It's not outrageous appreciation when you look at something like a Ferrari 355 or Honda NSX over the same period, but it has put them out of the reach of many people and I think the price will continue to go up as fewer and fewer are being put back on the road.
"If you do an online search for Type Rs at the moment, only 20 are showing as being registered. As far as running costs go, well it's not cheap. I average about 9mpg at the moment, though the car does need mapping so I'm hoping for roughly double that. That's whether you're driving like an old woman or at full-throttle, so it's a double-edged sword. The car will only run on high-end fuel and premixing with oil (like you would with a two-stroke) is recommended for longevity, even if the OMP is still working as a failsafe. Then there is the rebuild side of things, which for most probably won't be an issue in the short/mid-term but is worth bearing in mind."
"I've been all over with it and at one stage the car was my daily. I want to take the car across Europe and into Mallorca so I can blast up and down the Northern roads there, which are undoubtedly my favourite on the planet."
"The next big thing for me at the moment is replacing my broken Apexi ECU with a Haltech and getting it mapped by someone who knows what they're doing. After that a respray and some minor bodywork to get the car looking mint again. Then just to keep enjoying it!"
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