Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. We've had a real Mazda shortage around these parts, probably because the early rotaries tended to blow out the apex seals and/or suck gas and thus didn't weather the decades quite as well as their piston-engine competition. There's been an '81 RX-7 (plus one non-Wankel '82 Mazda) and that's been it until today. I've decided to go deeper into the 80s to enable more RX-7s to qualify for this series, because they were great cars on the street (and on the racetrack) and deserve our respect.
Sure, it was a nightmare to make the Wankel pass America's ever-toughening smog standards (and let's not even mention the complexity of the later RX-7 Turbo's emissions gear), but the power-to-weight of that little engine was nuts. The '85 GSL weighed a mere 2,345 pounds and went pretty well with 101 horses. However, the following year was the debut of the Honda CRX Si, with 91 horses driving just 1,865 pounds. Sure, the Honda had front-wheel-drive, but the Mazda was suddenly looking a bit heavy.
This car's owner must be treating those apex seals right, because I see it on the move frequently. A 23-year-old daily driver with a Wankel!