Have you ever had a moment with a car? Just a brief couple of minutes in which you fell positively, uncontrollably head over heals for an automobile? I did one night in Hong Kong a while back, and now I can’t stop thinking about first-generation Mazda RX-7s.

Last Christmas, I flew to Hong Kong to visit my brother Mike, a geologist working in the rocky Special Administrative Region of China. On the flight over, and throughout the trip, I learned a lot about Japanese car culture by reading Ben Hsu’s book Classic Japanese Performance Cars.


One of my favorite chapters talked about how 47 engineers at a little former-cork company in Japan turned the quirky and troublesome rotary engine into something truly majestic. I am, of course, talking about Mazda, and one of the cars that brought the company into the hallowed halls of true automotive giants was the original RX-7.

Reading about the incredible history of the Japanese auto scene while simultaneously walking through Hong Kong and witnessing some of the most priceless gems I was reading about was a life-changing experience. I was seeing Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions, Nissan Fairlady Zs, Skyline GT-Rs, classic Toyota Celicas, Nissan Pulsar GTI-Rs and a whole lot of other things that really enhanced my appreciation for Japanese car culture.

But it was on the final night of my trip, as my brother and I headed towards the river to go fishing, that we spotted something that truly moved me. It was a first-gen RX-7 idling in front of a gas station.


That little 1.1-liter “12A” rotary engine sounded wonderful with its unique, revvy-sounding exhaust note, the paint job glistened beautifully in the gas station’s orange lighting, and the cute little popup headlights protruded from that wedge-shaped front and just made me melt.


This moment made it clear that I must some day own a first-gen Mazda RX-7. It’s no longer an “if,” it’s a “when.”

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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