“Jinba Ittai - The oneness of horse and rider”

For the love of all that is rotary

With DTV I am going out to find the interesting and unique car stories on and near Vancouver Island. This gorgeous 1993 RX-7 is situated in Sechelt, BC. Owner Justen Z

1 - What was your first car?
My first car was a 1988 Mazda Rx-7. It was non-turbo, white with white wheels, dark blue interior and a base model. Would have been great if it had been a turbo model but because it was a base model it had less weight and less electronic pieces to go wrong. One thing about the car I will never forget was I had the exhaust straight piped and after I sold it I was sitting outside at a coffee shop with my wife when I heard something and looked over to her and said “God that is a loud car” about 15 seconds later I saw my old car drive by to which she responded “I told you it was too loud”. I thought to myself, “Hmm so that’s why I could never have a conversation or listen to music in there”. If you’ve ever owned an N/A rotary and opened up the exhaust you’ll know what I mean you feel like an F1 driver every time you step on the gas pedal. It was an awesome sound and made cars much faster than it think twice about wanting to race but my wife was definitely right too loud.

2 - If you could have it back would you?
I don’t regret selling it only because I sold it after I bought my 1993 25th Anniversary Twin Turbo Mazda Rx-7, which looks and performance wise is three times the car. If you haven’t heard of the 25th Anniversary model that is because it only came out in Canada and was an R1 model with cruise control and some special 25th Anniversary badges. I have never been able to find out from Mazda how many were made. However I do feel bad for the guy I sold it to because he didn’t own it for more than I few months. During the night one night, someone smashed the window and lit it on fire - not because of something he did but a beef with his older brother. A very sad end for a good car with lots of life left in it.

3 - Where in the world is your perfect road trip, why?
I would love to drive the Oregon Coast and head all the way down to Las Vegas. It would be great to peruse and/or race on some of the race tracks along the way.

4 - If you could have any car in the world on that trip what would you choose?
I would take my 1993 25th Anniversary Twin Turbo Mazda Rx-7 because it’s still a great looking car that will keep up to almost anything built today. This is also why I struggle to replace it. I personally feel the design has aged better than any of its competition at the time (supra a close second but the pop up headlights on the Rx-7 put it over the top). I’m sure you will read this and say a rotary! Aren’t they really unreliable? To that I say when done right and properly taken care of it’s just as reliable as anything else. My 1988 Rx-7 had over 200,000 kms on the original engine and one of the biggest problems on the 1993’s was the complicated vacuum system for the sequential twin turbos. This is why mine are now non-sequential and proper tuning smooths out the power band giving a great handling car the engine it loves. The car has been around for a long time now and there is a lot of information and parts out there to help it be the best car it can be.

5 - What’s your favorite drive on the island or west coast?
My favorite drive so far is the stretch between Sechelt and Earls Cove. The reason behind that is because it isn’t a very busy stretch and the road runs along the ocean and through mature forest. It is just a beautiful drive.

6 – Why do you have the car you own now?
My first car having been the 1988 Mazda Rx-7, while I loved this car as a rotary engine fan, the 3rd generation Rx-7 is the car to own. It has all the right stuff going for it (if you already like the engine, then that’s a plus too): perfect weight distribution, great handling, light but well built, beautiful, rear wheel drive, smooth shifter and good aftermarket support. The challenge is finding one that someone hasn’t already ruined. Stock ones have some trouble too so you need to find one that has been modified but hasn’t been painted some awful color. Tricky part is most of this good advice was discovered after I already bought mine and owned it for a few years. My search started on the internet of course and there were a few ok choices but in the end I decided to get the 25th Anniversary 1993 Mazda Rx-7. It was the most expensive of the bunch but had a somewhat fresh engine, moderately fresh turbos and had the 99 spec adjustable spoiler. The car was in Calgary and I was in Prince George which is about a 9 hour drive through some mountain ranges. The car was for sale at an exotic sports car dealer in Calgary. I booked my flight and flew over to Calgary to purchase the car sight unseen. Knowing now what I know about Rx-7’s and tuner cars in general, I would never have bought the car sight unseen. I hadn’t even driven a sports car with a turbo before but I was going to attempt to drive a rear wheel drive sports car with summer tires on it over mountain passes near the end of October.

Looking back I was an idiot who got incredibly lucky. I brought a friend along since we were going to be driving through the night and we arrived just after closing time. I thought to myself this is nice they are staying open late for me - awesome. I met the owner and the salesman and we took the car for a quick test drive. It was fantastic! The moment I felt those turbos spool up I was sold. The car didn’t feel its age; it was sharp, tight and for me a rocket ship compared to my 1988 Rx-7. After the test drive I went back inside and was looking around at the Ferrari's, Lamborghini's and Porsche's when I stopped to talk to a shorter older gentleman wearing a Ferrari jacket who I thought must be the salesman’s grandfather or something. He asked what car I was purchasing to which I excitedly told him “oh the 1993 Mazda Rx-7 over there I’m driving it back to BC tonight; he replied “that is a great car - too many of those have crashed”. So I asked him “what are you buying?” Thinking that he was going to say “Oh I’m just waiting for my son to finish up”, boy was I wrong. He replied “I’m just waiting for my truck to arrive I bought that Ferrari F50 over there. I own a race team in Colorado and we come up to Canada to by the cars because of the low dollar. This is the third one we bought this trip.” I quickly realized this is who they were staying late for, I just happened to be here on the same night as him. He went on to explain some changes he was going to make to the car. A while later after all the paperwork was done and my friend and I were getting into the car I realized someone buying a Ferrari F50 thinks what I bought is a great car. I thought that it was cool but he was probably just being nice. I’ve owned the car for over 10 years now and I’ve had my troubles with it. I’m positive now that the Ferrari guy was being serious because when the rotary engine and this chassis are both done right you really get what Mazda was trying to do with it. It is a car that engages you to be a better driver; it wants you to brake later before the corner and push it harder through the corner; it wants to go faster because it can. It is hard to explain how right it feels to try to push it to its limits; I have never had another sports car push me to be a better driver. I know it sounds cheesy but when Mazda says “Jinba Ittai -The oneness of horse and rider” God damn they were right.

Mike - Unfortunately time didn't allow for a drive video, but I'll be revisiting the RX-7 in the summer.

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