Here's What Happens When You Spend $3000 For Two Of Japan's Greatest Cars

The first-generations of the Mazda RX-7 and Honda Civic are among the most important cars in Japanese automotive history. But when you buy a $1,500 beat-to-hell, 30+ year-old example of each of those cars, other adjectives start to surface.

In this episode of Roadkill, Finnegan and Freiburger each have $1,500 to spend on a foreign car that will race in the Ultimate Street Car Invitational in Las Vegas. Finnegan buys a 1974 Honda Civic, and Freiburger shows up with a 1985 Mazda RX-7—both absolutely fantastic cars.

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But of course, the two cars the Roadkill guys bought weren’t exactly the best examples. Right off the bat, the Honda’s battery terminal falls off in the middle of a test drive, cutting power to the engine. Then the little hatch’s park brake gets stuck, and finally its engine blows up, leaving Finnegan stranded. Even the replacement motor, installed by Roadkill’s faithful readers, had major issues, ultimately disqualifying the car from the race.

The RX-7 actually wasn’t too bad. Sure, it wouldn’t start in the beginning, and it had quite a bit of metal in its transmission oil pan, but considering what a shitbox the Honda was, overall the Mazda seemed to hold up just fine. It probably helps that it was a decade newer than the Honda.

Photo: Motor Trend Channel/YouTube (screengrab)

The first generation Honda Civic was the car that cemented Honda’s place in the mainstream car market. Its success resulted from its high fuel efficiency (particularly in the midst of a U.S. oil crisis), exceptional reliability, good looks, and fully independent suspension that made it an absolute hoot to drive.

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The Mazda RX-7 was also a legend in its own right, helping keep Mazda afloat during tough times thanks to its low price-tag and high performance limits that gave even the big dogs from Porsche and Datsun run for their money.

While it’s sad to see these historic automotive gems reduced to shitboxes, it’s also pretty cool to see them being raced like the gods intended. Even if they don’t make the podium.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio