Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
Let's call this Wankel Weekend. Mike brought up all of these great rotary-engined cars that aren't Mazdas and are unavailable on the used car market. To counter that, I'm bringing up some rotary cars you can actually buy used. OK, they're all Mazdas.
That's no bad thing, however, because Mazda has built some really great and/or good-looking cars over the decades. Digging through the listings for RX-somethings has turned up some nice ones, even if it's limited to coupes in this face off.
Coupes, as in this 1974 RX-4 Coupe. One charming piece of old European and Japanese cars is the striking resemblance they seem to have to American cars of the same period – only like at 3/4 scale. I get strong images of early-'70s Mustang and AMC Javelin in the RX-4's design and that's a good thing.
Under the hood, of course, is not a thumping V8, but a creamy rotary engine, a 1.3 with 125 horsepower. A pony car for eggheads, then. It's kind of cool to look at, though, so I wouldn't mind just staring at it when parked.
The interior also reminds me of a '70s pony car with this white color scheme and recessed gauges. For 39 years old, it's decently clean, too (But the seller's inability to spell puts me off). Altogether, it's the sort of car that kind of looks like other American cars, but different enough that it could attract a lot of attention as you drive around. It doesn't shout, and I like that.
It's still hard to mistake a first-generation RX-7 for anything else on the road, though. Maybe it's because these shapes were pretty common on these roads and have long disappeared, but I find this very early 1978 RX-7 quite the head-turner. And, hell0, pop-up headlights!
While the RX-4 is a tourer in a rather American tradition, the RX-7 is more of a sports car and even though its little rotary doesn't have gobs of power (that would come in subsequent muscular RX-7s), it has smart power. This model in particular screams efficiency. Steel bumpers, none of the gold wheels or other adornments that marked later versions. It even has a glass hatch, so it's kinda sorta practical.
And this car is also extremely well preserved, not treated like the base version it appears to be. Eight grand sounds like a lot for an old RX-7, but it seems totally worth it for an original one like this.
With that, my Wankel would be an RX-7. Temptingly odd as the RX-4 is, I just have a soft spot for the rotary sports car. And it's such a shame they aren't being made now.