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September 23, 2019

The Hurricane RX-7

You know you have a keeper wife when she agrees to drive into a hurricane’s path to retrieve a project car.  It all started earlier in the week when I placed a bid on a nice looking bronze, 1979 Mazda RX-7 GS.  I placed a low bid on the car because the owner said it needed a clutch.  Well I won, but it had to be picked up in seven days and Hurricane Dorian was heading our way!

I have wanted a 1979 RX-7 since I was a freshman in college and my best friend purchased a brand new base model, sunrise red RX-7.  He always had cool cars but I loved that car and drove it whenever I could talk him into lending it to me.   The RX-7 had a revolutionary high-revving rotary engine that was an absolute blast to drive.

Well, I convinced my wife that if we left immediately we could get the car and be back before the hurricane arrived.  The only problem was that we would be in traffic with the people evacuating from the storm.   My plan, and peace offering, was to drive first to Gainesville to visit our daughter and get some gas before we headed back to the coast where I feared fuel might be scarce. 

Unfortunately, irrational panic had literally gripped Gainesville and everyone in town had decided that they needed a full tank of gas in preparation of a storm that was still several days away.  By the time we arrived, nearly every fuel station in town had run out of gas.  We had a few tense “I told you so” moments before I finally found a gas station on I-75 that had a long line but still had fuel.

After a nice meal and visit with our daughter, we headed toward the east coast to get my new project.  I had enough gas to get to my destination so I was really only worried about traffic.  Fortunately, traffic was light, gas was plentiful, the weather was good, and except for a few mechanical issues with my trailer, it was a fairly uneventful and pleasant drive.  Plus, the RX-7 was actually nicer than we expected!

We returned a day before the hurricane was forecast to hit Lakeland, so I delivered on my promise and the wife was pleased to be home before the storm (that thankfully spared Lakeland.)  The best part was that the clutch issue was very minor and I had the car running and driving the same day we retuned.  All in all, it was a very lucky trip!