For $1,995, Wake Up Rip Van Wankel

Mickey's Malt Liquor is an acquired taste, but its wide-mouth bottle makes shotgunning them a snap. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe RX7 is a wide-body, but will its price and non-runner status leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Mazda was on the ropes in the mid ‘70s. Sporadic gas shortages ($0.62 a gallon!), and strangling emissions standards made the decision to hook their wagon to the Wankel engine's star seem foolhardy at best, and corporate suicide at worst. They needed a saviour, and just as things seemed to be at their darkest, they found two in both the piston-packing GLC, and the best home a rotary ever had - the RX-7 sports car.

The RX-7's debut came out of nowhere and its position as a cheaper, but just as potent competitor to the Porsche 924 solidified its success. Today's IMSA-channeling widebody '79 RX-7 might be solid, although in its dormant present state, taking it out for a test drive will require downward slopes and a tail wind. Popping the Z-28 be-scooped hood reveals the reason for that, as the 12B rotary powerplant residing there lists aft-ward like Quint's boat after Jaws ate him.

For $1,995, Wake Up Rip Van Wankel

Being a tail-dragger is quaint if you happen to be a Piper Cub, but when you're Mazda drivetrain, it can only mean bad mojo. Not only is the twin-rotor resting at an angle more appropriate for rescuing Chilean miners than sending power back to the GLC-shared live rear axle, but the car's lack of a radiator is going to mean all your Prestone's going to end up on the garage floor. So it's not a runner, but much like last week's project Pantera, this whale-tailed Mazda is rife with possibilities.

For $1,995, Wake Up Rip Van Wankel

Down there where the 12A is currently tilting at windmills is a space roomy enough that the thought of dropping in a larger, higher horsepower, motivator wouldn't be considered Quixotic. An LS1 will, and has, fit beneath the sloping hood of the SA RX-7, providing much more push than that of the 100-hp 12A. Alternatively, you could keep it all in the family and keep the 50/50 weight distribution by replacing the 1.1-litre with a larger, and perhaps more turbocharged, 13B. That would put close to two hundred ponies between those fat front fenders, making sure the car walks the walk.

Or, you could just get that 12A running and drive the car like that. At less than 2,300-lbs before all the bodywork, 100-hp would sure feel like a whole lot more. And inside you might feel like it's I Ass-Cones the ‘80s what with the simple dash and bulky Recaro seats. The passenger side looks good to go, while the condition of the driver's highly-bolstered bucket is indicative of why you should never try and light a fart while sitting in your car. Recovering the seats, and a new carpet set - plus a general cleaning would be all it takes to make this Mazda habitable once again.

For $1,995, Wake Up Rip Van Wankel

Okay, so it needs either an engine rebuild, or a new motor, and even hobos wouldn't take up residence in the interior, but the wide-body looks good, and with fewer than 88K on the clock, the car's probably still a reasonable base for whatever you want to do with it, plus the rear wing will serve as a handy pushbar for getting it home. And all that could be had for $1,995. Typically, for that kind of cheddar, you'd be getting a car that not only doesn't run, but also looks like it fell out of a dog's ass, with faded paint, and usually one pop-up permanently pointed skyward. Here, you're getting a car that your neighbors would be proud to see ensconced on your front lawn for the next couple of years. Hell, they'd stop by asking when you were going to get it running, not so that they wouldn't have to see that eyesore, but so that you could take them for a ride. It looks like it'd be that much fun. But is it a Lincoln-short of two-large fun? Would you consider paying that much for a stationary artwork like this? Or, for that price, would you punch the snooze alarm for this Rip Van Wankel?

You decide!


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