In the ‘70s, Mazda had an ad campaign saying that while other cars go boing, boing boing, Mazdas go Hmmmmmm. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe RX2 hails from that era, but its updates might just make you go boing!
A Syclone blew into town yesterday, and like any major weather disturbance it made a mess of things. Or maybe it was just a mess, it's hard to remember. Either way, with its nonexistent HVAC, it was neither a hot nor a cold wind that blew, but, by your determination, blow it did, and 65% of you sent it spinning off into Crack Pipe history.
Spinning is also the claim to fame of Dr. Wankel's invention, and in the 1970s nobody tried to spin the rotary's benefits of smoothness and power more so than did Mazda. One of the first of that company's Wankel warriors was the Capella-based RX2. A direct ancestor of today's 6, the RX2 rolled off the cargo ships from Japan powered by a 120-bhp 12A two-rotor Wankel. That engine managed to move the 2,315-lb car from zero to sixty in a reasonable-for-1971 11.5 seconds, whilst humming all the while.
There's a pretty good joke about a penguin whose RX2 breaks down on an extremely warm day. While waiting for the gas station mechanic to diagnose the problem he cools off with a tasty ice cream from the Foster's Freeze across the street. Being a penguin, his stubby wings have a tough time hanging onto the cone and he gets vanilla all over his face from the rapidly melting treat. Returning to the mechanic he asks, Did you find the problem? The mechanic looks at him and says, It looks like you blew a seal. The penguin, realizing his creamy countenance, turns red and stammers no, no, no, it's just ice cream, really!
The bane of all early Mazda rotary owners, not just the penguins, were blown apex seals. The tips of the triangular rotors would degrade more rapidly than even Mazda anticipated, sending compression into the basement and leaving a tell-tail trail of blue smoke following many a car back in the day.
Today's 1971 RX2 comes to us not with that apex seal clubbing 12A under its hood, but a more seal friendly 13B turbo instead. Thirteen may be an unlucky number in some cultures, but in the case of Mazda rotaries, it's like a winning lottery ticket. And in the case of this much modded RX2, that pressurized 13B might be just the ticket.
The engine isn't the only modification on this car, in fact there's nothing of the driveline left that's original. The Clutch is by Clutchnet, and the Mazda gearbox has been swapped out for a Celica five speed. Out back this RX2 rests on a Chevy 10-bolt rear axle, on the ends of which are Wilwood 5-lug brakes. The seller doesn't say if rear end is the robust eight and a half-inch ring 10-bolt, or one of the weak-as-a-kitten-fart 8.2s, but whichever it is that bow tie back end should be able to handle the two hundred and whatever horsepower this turbo twin rotor must be putting out.
Inside, there's a six-point cage and surprisingly a full interior, although we don't get to see any of that in the Craigslist ad. What we do see is the shiny new paint and some Weld Draglites which are kind of love ‘em or leave ‘em rims. The rest of the exterior is free of any douchebaggage, and the 3-inch exhaust pipe ends not in an egregiously large fart can, but in a subtle muffler and chrome tip tucked discreetly under the valance.
One thing that's not discreet is the asking price, which for this RX2 is a gotta' think about that $16,000. Considering that last week we saw a pristine Porsche 928 with an asking price of just two-grand more means this Mazda may not be exactly priced for impulse purchase. That being said, this does appear to be an extremely well sorted and tastefully modified example of what is admittedly a pretty cool car, which is why $16,000 for a nearly 40 year old mass production Japanese car isn't automatically crackpipalicious.
Or is it? What do you think about the potential of dropping a sweet sixteen on a forty year old non-virgin? Does that price make this RX just what the doctor ordered? Or is that a prescription for disaster?
UPDATE: The seller is double dipping - check out the eBay ad for this RX, with lots of pics, here. H/T to fujii13 for the link!
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