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In the Garage: Mazda RX-7

This 1981 Mazda RX-7 owned by John Van

This 1981 Mazda RX-7 owned by John Van Gasteren is still in almost new condition, according to the owner.. Photo Credit: David Fluhrer

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1981 Mazda RX-7 GS owned by John Van Gasteren

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
When Mazda introduced the RX-7 in 1978, it was an instant sensation. Buyers waited months and would often compromise on delivery date, price, model, color – or all four – just to get their hands on one. Its popularity was easy to explain: good looks, taut handling, reliability, light weight (2,300-2,500 lbs.) and a 1.1-liter rotary engine pumping out 100 horsepower, all for a modest price tag. “This is an unmodified and well-preserved example of the first generation,” Van Gasteren says of his ride. “The original RX-7 set a new standard for inexpensive, but excellent-performing sports cars. As a result, most of these cars were ‘driven hard and put away wet’ (and/or became victims of rust) and very few survived in this condition.”

HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Van Gasteren bought his car new in February 1981. “MSRP was $9,095 when I put a deposit down in November 1980, but by the time one became available to my specification – ‘Maya Gold’ exterior color with no factory options -- it had increased to $9,495. Total price with air conditioning, which was dealer-installed, was $10,340.

WHERE HE FOUND IT
At a Wantagh dealer

CONDITION
“It is still in almost-new condition,” Van Gasteren says. “With just over 64,000 miles, it is completely original, including most of the paint.” He added Carroll Shelby wheels, new tires, Hella fog lights and an aftermarket sound system, but still owns the factory wheels and stereo equipment. He has all of the original paperwork, including the owner’s manual, maintenance book, window sticker, bill of sale and sales brochure.

TIPS FOR OWNERS
“If you own one of these first-generation cars in any usable condition, you should hold on to it for at least a few years,” he advises. “If you do not own one, this may be the time to buy. These cars have languished in the under-$5,000 price range for many years, but it appears they may now be beginning to appreciate, riding on the coat tails of the Datsun 240Z, which has already increased in value a great deal. I have seen predictions that these RX-7s could increase in value as much as four-fold in the near future.”

VALUE
Van Gasteren estimates his coupe is worth $6,000.

THE BOTTOM LINE
He says the Mazda has “earned a place” in his family because he has owned it for over 33 years and has cared for it “since day one, as you would any other family member.”

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