What it cost me to own a $500 car part 16

This is going to be a long one, lots of text, feel free to skip to the last paragraph if you feel so inclined.

So the car was pretty much done. It was a really nice stage one car and with the throttle fixed was pretty easy to drive. The 4.11 made it so gear changes were required every 20 mph or so and was a hoot around town at 3500 on the freeway, not so much fun. I did have to revisit the exhaust shop to add a turn down as shown in the exhaust vid because of excess fumes, and to be honest it still was pretty noticeable with the turndown.


Parents decided to sell the house I was working out of, so it was time to clean up and move out of the garage. I found a local storage place (as many of you can guess from some of the previous pictures) and stored the car there to work on a little bit here and there.

I even got a chance to autocross it. Handling wasn’t as awesome as I thought it was going to be. It understeered into corners, and a boot full of throttle made it understeer even more violently. The fuel pump wiring decided to fritz two runs in so I decided to call it off early and headed home.


I don’t know if that was the spark, but I started to not like the car. About a 1000 miles later I was feeling a bit depressed. The car really did look good, and I got lots of compliments and waves, but in truth something didn’t feel quite right. My heart was racing every time I drove it, but I couldn’t figure out if that was excitement or nervousness having done all the work myself. I convinced myself that it was just that it looked good, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.

I had now graduated Uni and I was making more than I ever had before (not very much in the overall scheme of things) and I wanted to try and see if I could get my real dream car, an FD Rx-7. I loved all the cars from that era, the R32 GTR, the honda NSX, but really the one that always never failed to drop my jaw was the smooth lines of the RX-7.


So I did what I thought was unthinkable. I put up a for sale ad. The posting was very descriptive and I outlined all the parts that went in and put what I thought was a reasonable asking price of 13k hoping for 10k. Unfortunately what became apparent was that there were two crowds. One who had the money wanted a really nice stock example, and the other wanted their own project or would bring up other 500$ cars on the market to try and negotiate.

That was pretty infuriating, didn’t people know that the brakes alone cost upwards of 2k, the engine rebuild also in that ball park and all that steel and time. Along with all the suspension parts and the 3 sets of wheels? Just to make it worse I had a friend who heard about my plight and put up his freshly painted stock Z for shits and giggles and had several offers to buy at the 10k price, and I knew that it was in way worse condition underneath (5 different colors under the body panels surface rust, sketchy wiring <-and you saw the wiring I did and I’m calling his sketchy), but people saw the shiny paint and were sold.


I even took to the RX-7 forums in hopes for a lucky trade. I had a couple interested individuals, but the gap seemed too large and the location of the cars made it difficult to really get a solid deal in the works. Who ships first, what about the extra money on top etc etc.

I decided I would finish up little by little. I found a reply to my posting looking for a bumper and talked to the guy. Found out he had a 2jz waiting to go into his car which was running a 7m. Then it sparked. What was so good about the RX-7? The rotary is indeed unique and the body looks killer, but the 240z also looks really good. The difference was the handling and power. Power. Power. Power.


As a goodbye present to a friend moving out of state I offered to take him on the back roads and let him drive, and to my surprise the car handled great. I made a few tweaks with wider lower profile tires on new rims and installing the ST rear sway bar and tightening up some bushings and bolts. Just turns out that I was a shitty driver and pushing the car too hard and upsetting the handling, he controlled it beautifully, every time it felt like it was going to slip he would ease off the power and we had a blast. The handling wasn’t bad at all and that means the other word kept resonating, and eventually ended up into one word. Turbo.

I figured out why I was feeling the way I was, I had originally wanted a different engine, but had to compromise. Even if I got the RX-7 I was eyeing a V8 swap, and if I was going to swap an engine I might as well break my cherry on a car I knew intimately.


I called around and got some prices that seemed ridiculous, so I decided I would have to embark on this journey myself a real DIY. I called up the guy and asked what he was planning on doing with the old 7m and the mounts and we struck up a deal.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 16

Time for a heart transplant!

Lessons learned:

If you aren’t the type to settle, build your car for what you envision from the beginning. Even if it isn’t the engine you want, build it to supply the engine you want etc.


Sit down and think of what you want, you might surprise yourself.

Craigslist giveth and it taketh away.

People who respond to a for sale price of a car of 13k for an offer of 3k or make on offer for the set of wheels have a special place reserved in hell.



300 - enkei 92 15x7+0

200 - kumho 225/50/15

100 - mounting/balancing

200 - 280zx turbo swastika wheels

200 - st sway bar

Subtotal: 1000

Total spent: 13285


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