My Mazda RX7 - A Slow Goodbye to a JDM Icon

Having had over thirty cars since passing my test on a drizzly December morning near-enough five years ago, I have a strong understanding of how selling different cars can make you feel.


There have been some cars that I've been glad to see go, whether it be because of their problematic nature, or because they've made people close to me very happy. There have also been cars that I've regretted seeing go - the RX8 will always pertinent to this emotion, for sure.


But I have absolutely no idea how selling the RX7 is going to make me feel. I mean, if you had asked me this about two months ago, with the car having sat outside my house void of a dashboard since the beginning of May, I'd have told you that I was awaiting the day of sale with open arms - however, since the car passed its MOT three weeks ago, and having now been using it again, it's fair to say that my mindset is altogether less clear.

This is something that I'm terrible for, even when the cars in question are functioning correctly. I've not driven the Twingo for a few weeks and it tells, because every now and then I begin to wonder whether I should actually be keeping the car - which of course I should, and the next time I drive it I'll have a sudden epiphany and realise that, obviously, the Twingo has to stay. With the Evo, I seem to forget just how good of a car it now is to drive until I get back into it and fall in love all over again, every couple of weeks or so. I'm not sure whether it's something that happens to everyone, but with me absence does the exact opposite of making the heart grow fonder where cars are concerned.


Getting back into the RX7 on the morning of the MOT test was a strange feeling. It was like meeting up with an old friend that, although they live in the same village, you never seem to see. Everything felt just the same as the last time I had got out of the seat, with the exception of the car seeming to get a little smaller inside, and me seeming to have gotten a little fatter - no change there, then. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the drive there as much as I did, mainly because the car had sat reasonably still for about four months by this point - but therein lies the reason, I think, that I did enjoy it so much. Despite sitting for this length of time, and due to the nature of the issue that had taken it off the road in the first place, not being run much, the RX7 defied its reputation of fragility by driving all 28 miles to the test without a single hiccup - further to that, it went the extra mile by passing the MOT itself.


After the MOT, my plan was to rectify the small niggles with the car and get it sold. There wasn't anything too major to worry about - a worn out boot seal and rubber blocks causing a tailgate rattle, a sidelight cluster deciding to embrace a new life as a fish bowl, and a radio that didn't quite fit as snug as it once had, and therefore had decided to adopt the life goal of flying into my testicles upon hard acceleration.


But that didn't go well, because some primitive part of my brain had decided that while spending a few weeks sorting these bits out, I should drive it - and true to form, by driving it, I now like it again.


I think the thing that did it was taking it out for a proper drive in the countryside. In Cambridgeshire, we're not exactly blessed with driving roads, but it's possible to make do. For a long time, I had never had the guts to give the RX7 a good thrashing, because every time I did, something had happened that would make me worry for the health of the car. But now? Now, the car is running right. Now, the car is in a position for me to drive it in such a way that I can find out just what all the fuss is about, something that I had possibly failed to see previously due to being too blinkered by my love of the RX8 I mentioned earlier in the article - something that wasn't an issue now, as having spent a little time driving one recently, I may have been looking at that driving experience itself with the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia.


And it was glorious.


There's more skill involved to getting it right with the 7 when compared to the 8 - where the RX8 has a naturally aspirated linearity to the power and torque curves, the RX7 has turbocharging to add to the mix, and with a limited-slip differential that is, at best, playful, you've got a bit more of a handful to deal with. More of a handful, however, is no bad thing. It requires far more attention to cornering speeds and where to apply the power, you have to look further around the corner to make sure that you time everything correctly to get the best out of both the engine and the chassis - while it could do with a fair bit of modernisation in the braking and suspension department, the 20-year-old car really does still have the ability to shine on a winding B-road.


It was after one of these spirited drives that I pulled to the side of the road and couldn't help myself but to get some photos of it. After a few minutes, however, I found myself switching off the engine and sitting down to simply gaze at it. I seem to live life at such a pace these days that it's rare for me to have the time to simply look at something, but in that moment, the RX7 reminded me of why it's such an icon. The styling simply hasn't aged, in my opinion. While I find that the pre-facelift cars, with their aged sidelights and less aggressive front bumpers, have indeed felt the years pull away at their youth, the 99-spec cars look anything but old.


It brings some solace to the fact that the car spent months as a lawn ornament - because my god, was it a pretty one - and while it's tried my patience at times, nothing quite comes close to the way that this car makes me feel - and isn't that the most important thing?


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