Classifind Cut: 1976 Mazda RX4 – Sold?

Dec 2020 | Classifind Cut, Classifinds, Malaise Monday

January 17, 2021 Update – we just noticed the listing “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” We’re sorry that this one got away, so feel free to reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

When it debuted in the U.S. for the 1974 model year, Road & Track magazine added the rotary-powered two-door hardtop to its “Ten Best” list in 1975.  An affinity to easily rust combined with the unique Wankel powerplant prone to seal wear makes these cars a very rare sight today.  On the rare occasions when we do come across one, we’re surprised at the seller’s asking prices as none of our usual syndicated sources provides pricing for these cars. Our latest example is this restored 1976 example originally listed in December 2020 on Craigslist in Newark, New Jersey with an asking price of $18,000. With no comparable data to know whether this price is high or not we’re just listing this car as an FYI.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1976 mazda rx4 automatic power steering air condition redone to original spec, asking $18,000”

Do you have any knowledge on whether this RX-4’s price is in the ballpark?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Classifind Cut: 1976 Mazda RX4 – Sold?

    Another Malaise Monday car I used to own. Ironically, I owned one of these, a 1974, immediately before the Opel Manta listed today (had both in the early 1980’s when I was a graduate student).

    This was the first Japanese car I’d owned at the time (not because I didn’t want one and didn’t try, but the first one I found that I could afford on a student’s budget). I thought I scored a deal, a 1974 RX4 with about 50k miles at the time, and the all-important manual transmission. Mine was dark metallic green, with an oh-so-70’s avocado green velour interior.

    It was also my first Wankel car, though not first rotary. My first Wankel experience was several years before, as a college student I found a leftover new 1975 Suzuki RE5 rotary motorcycle that started a life-long love affair with the spinning triangles. I loved that bike so much, I thought the passion could continue with the RX4.

    Eh…. not so much. It was smoooooothhh like all Wankels are. It was well-built and fun to drive – except for the notorious early Wankel problems. Mine certainly had them. At 50k miles, the engine was worn out. Hot restarts were hard, and more problematic were cold starts – it would spew out a 3-story house size cloud of blue smoke, every time. It also burned about a quart of oil every 75-100 miles, or more. These were the days long before the internet, so getting information took a lot more effort and time than just a few clicks on a smartphone. I eventually learned all about apex seals and premature wear.

    It got to be embarrassing to drive. I would get such dirty looks from everyone because of the blue fogs (especially the parents of my girlfriend at the time, whose opinion of me as a miscreant only deepened when they saw me start the car). As a poverty stricken grad student, there was no way I could afford an engine rebuild, and living in a dorm couldn’t even begin to think about doing it myself. The gas mileage was also shockingly (to me) bad at around 14-17 mpg, but probably spot on for a worn-out Wankel of the time. So, the car left after a relatively short stay – to be replaced by a 1975 Opel Manta, which was much more satisfying (if less exotic).

    The value of this is hard to place. The earlier RX2 and RX3 are much more highly sought after by rotary enthusiasts. They rarely come up for sale (not many left), and when they do sell for breathtakingly high prices even for projects. The RX4 is nowhere near as desirable, because it’s seen as the heavier ‘luxury’ version. There is almost no information in the ad about the car, such as, is the engine the original, or has it been replaced (which most have by now because of difficulty finding parts for the originals). 37k miles is probably 137k, which means something has been done to the engine. The automatic also doesn’t help the value.

    I’d go out on a limb and venture the purely personal opinion that the price seems high, for an automatic and unknown engine. If it was actually a provable 37k miles, the price could be right, for someone, but I would bet it might take a while to find the proverbial ‘right buyer’. If it’s a swapped engine and 137k miles, something in my gut tells me low teens might be more the ballpark.



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