Welcome to the first instalment in our First Car series.
There is almost nothing as exciting as getting your first car. Everyone – even those with little interest in cars – remember their first car.
Getting the keys to your first car truly does feel like one of life’s great achievements.
My first car was a Toyota Cynos (known as a Paseo in some markets). Although the Cynos was hardly one of the great cars of automotive history, I’ll always remember it fondly.
But what if you are looking at finding your first car?
In this upcoming series, we are going to look at potential first cars and answer whether or not – in our opinion – they represent a good option as your starter vehicle.
When starting out on the car ownership journey, it can be tempting to try and get yourself into a “hero” car – a car you’ve always wanted.
But is this a good idea?
Our First Car series is aimed at helping you find a first car that is both suitable for beginner drivers and also exciting, rewarding and fun to own.
Although it might seem like a great idea at the time to go out and buy some crazy car as your first, in reality this often isn’t good practice.
You’ll have to spend a lot more money (both on purchase price and maintenance/repairs, as well as insurance) and although this might be a bit boring, you also need to consider safety. As a beginner driver, you are far more likely to be involved in an accident, especially if you have a fast and powerful car.
That being said, at Garage Dreams we are firm believers in owning vehicles you want and enjoy.
That’s why we are rolling out this series to help first time car buyers find vehicles that are both fun to own and drive, but also not too expensive or dangerous.
Today, we are looking at one of the most legendary Japanese vehicles of all time, the Mazda RX7.
Spanning several generations, the RX7 is what most people think of when they think of rotary engine cars.
In particular, it is the final generation of the RX7 (the FD) that is generally the most popular.
But is the Mazda RX7 a good first car? In this article we look at whether or not it is a good option for your starter car.
For our First Car series, we look at several key factors:
- Purchase price
- Maintenance costs and reliability
- Insurance costs
- Suitability for beginner drivers
- Coolness & fun factor
All vehicles in our First Car series will be assessed on these criteria.
As a rule, most first time car buyers won’t have a lot of money to purchase their vehicle with.
If you’re sitting on a large inheritance (or got into Bitcoin at a young age) then purchase price concerns probably don’t apply to you.
However, for the “average” first time car owner, the RX7 is not likely to be suitable due to its high purchase price.
The RX7 was expensive when new, and is expensive to buy now.
Values have been shooting up – as we discussed in our article on why Mazda RX7s are so expensive.
You will need to spend thousands to get your hands on an average example of an RX7 – one that might cost substantial amounts of money in maintenance and repairs.
Mint condition examples will cost into the tens of thousands now (obviously exact pricing does vary by country and/or state).
Long story short, it will cost you a lot to buy a Mazda RX7.
Do you really want to spend that much money on your first car? Can you really afford to? The truth is, probably not.
Maintenance Costs & Reliability
If you have read our Mazda RX7 buyer’s guide, then you will know that these are expensive cars to maintain and repair,.
You are going to have to budget a substantial sum of money each year to keep one of these beautiful beasts on the road and in good, working condition.
It is our view that the average first time car buyer will be ill-prepared and equipped for the maintenance and repair bills that will come with a Mazda RX7.
If you have plenty of money behind you, then this might not a problem. However, if you are starting out as a teenager/early twenties, then chances are you probably cannot afford the maintenance bills that are likely to come with owning an RX7.
Also bear in mind that due to the niche nature of the RX7 and its rotary engine, it is actually becoming more difficult to find some parts.
Finally, the RX7 will be expensive on gas – not ideal if you are planning on daily driving it.
Another cost factor that gets overlooked by many drivers (especially first time ones) is insurance.
If you are younger and less experienced behind, and especially if you are male, insurance companies will want to charge you an arm and a leg for covering you with a vehicle like an RX7.
In fact, you may even struggle to get insurance depending on your age and jurisdiction. If you do get insurance, be prepared to pay a lot and possibly even face some strenuous conditions and a high excess on your policy.
The RX7 is a car liable to be crashed, and a car liable to be stolen due to its high popularity and demand. Insurance companies will see a young, first-time driver as being an extremely high risk, and want to charge accordingly.
Prohibitively expensive (and possibly unavailable) insurance is another reason why the RX7 is not a good first car.
Another factor that is overlooked on occasion by first time buyers is practicality.
Having a practical first car is useful because you can:
- Keep it for longer (as it is more likely to provide utility as your needs change over time)
- Take your friends and family out in it
- Get more value for money
The RX7 isn’t a particularly practical car, being a “2 + 2” (and there were even some 2 seat only models made). Furthermore, the rear seats on an RX7 are only good for amputees anyway.
It also doesn’t have much boot/trunk space.
Basically, if you want a car for summer road trips etc, then you aren’t going to have the best time with the RX7.
Suitability For Beginner Drivers
As we alluded to in the section on insurance, the RX7 is also not a particularly suitable car for beginner drivers.
It is a powerful, rear wheel drive car (especially the twin turbo FD generation) with limited safety features.
Although it might seem very appealing to have a car like that to start off with, the truth is that this level of power and performance isn’t a good idea while you are an inexperienced driver.
There are many other fun, exciting cars you could purchase as your first car that are much more manageable as a beginner driver.
The RX7 is a hard car to handle – until you have built up sufficient experience and skill:
Coolness & Fun Factor
This is where the RX7 shines. There is no doubt that it is one of the greatest cars ever to come from Japan, and still looks as good (if not better) than it did the day it was released.
The RX7 FD is a truly timeless design, and you simply will not see cars like it ever again due to environmental and safety concerns.
If you’ve seen one in the flesh, you’ll know just how small the RX7 really is; this compact size helped to make it a great performer.
It is a “blast from the past” in all the right ways.
There’s also no denying that the RX7 is a huge amount of fun.
They are fast – even by today’s standards – with superb balance and handling. This is a vehicle that was designed and built to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911.
In this regard, the RX7 scores very highly. There are few cars on the market of any era that are quite so exciting and thrilling.
Conclusion – Is A Mazda RX7 A Good First Car?
In our opinion, the Mazda RX7 (of any generation, but particularly the FD which is the most popular and in-demand) is not a good first car.
RX7s are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, impractical, costly to insure, and probably too powerful and “demanding” for a first driver. While having an exotic, fast car sounds like a good idea when you’re young and learning to drive, unless you have a lot of money behind you, there is a high chance you’ll regret an RX7 as a first car.
If you’ve got the wherewithal to purchase one and store it away (with occasional use) then you’re probably on to a winner in terms of future classic value. However, as far as a genuine first car goes, the RX7 is probably to be avoided.
It is undeniably a cool, exciting and fun car. But this does not change the fact that an RX7 simply isn’t suitable for a first time car owner.
To finish, I conclude with a personal anecdote. When I was at high school, a kid in the year below me had an RX7 as a first car. It looked good when he first got it, but within six months it was in very poor condition owing to the fact that he hadn’t quite learned to drive it properly. Thinking back, it’s sad seeing a true “modern classic” like that fall victim to an inexperienced driver.
Ultimately, you are free to pick whatever car you like for your first car, but we strongly recommend that the RX7 isn’t a good choice.
If you were after a rotary engine car as your first vehicle, then an RX8 would probably be a better choice (simply because it is a lot less expensive to buy one, so you won’t have to worry so much about damaging it). You can read our RX8 Buyer’s Guide here, as well