Mazda Mania

David's Mazda Barn

It is amazing to think of how much of an impact our early experiences with certain cars can have on us for the rest of our years. If your first car was a ’57 Chevy, than chances are you will always have a special place for the same. For me, it was an ’87 Mazda RX-7 and ever since then I’ve been fascinated by these rotary-powered lightweights. When David M sent us an email about his collection of Mazdas, it struck a cord with my inner 16 year old and brought back some good memories (and some not so good memories). He has collected a number of rare and interesting Mazdas, but rather than ramble on, I’ll let David tell you about his rotary obsession right after the break!

Mazda parts cars

Last week someone posted pictures on Facebook of my place in San Antonio, Texas and I thought I would share this with everyone myself before a bunch of misinformation gets put out there. First, I am an Active Duty Soldier and have been for the last 23 years. That may explain some of the lack of action and accumulation of dirt. This is my barn and it is the result of an accumulation of over 20 years of collecting. Could I be called a hoarder? Yep. I come by my disease honestly! When I was growing up in the ’70s my Dad had a yard full of wrecked C1 and C2 Vettes. I literally cut my teeth on a socket wrench and by the age of 7 was trying to tell dirt track racers how to tune their engines. In 1978, that all changed when my Dad sold all the Vettes and we moved to the Suburbs, however my love for building cars never changed. When I grew older (notice I didn’t grow up) I wanted to build cars and I had to find my own niche that I could afford. I only collect one type of vehicle and that would be my niche, Mazdas. In addition to the vehicles that are pictured, there are boxes of parts, racks of tires and rims, stacks of engines, transmissions and body panels. 

Mazda Yard

To dispel any rumors, yes the property is for sale. No the cars do not come with it. In fact, because we are packing for moving, the place is a little messy right now. We have already identified a couple of potential new locations to move the cars too, but are still looking. This is not a business, it is my hobby and some would say passion. The reality is while there are individual cars out there that are very well restored, but there isn’t a collection of these cars in one location in the U.S. and I want to change that.  One of our good friends in Europe, Walter Frey, has an excellent collection and we wish to emulate his in some ways.

Dave's Project Mazdas

We have been buying some and selling some, but always trading up to ones that are more unique or in better condition. Our current core collection consists of about 40 cars that are either being preserved as is or being restored. I have no doubt that many people will see junk, as these aren’t their thing. That’s ok, they are my thing. Some will say that all they see are a bunch of cars with dust and dirt on them. Yes, that sounds about right. There are lots of people out there that want to restore a car and then there are those that have already a restored car. The second group knows that you really don’t want to start the restoration until you have acquired most of the needed parts. While we are well on our way, we still need some very specific parts. The last and most important part of restoring a collection like this is to not start a restoration until you have all of the documentation you need to get it done right.

#33, #88 and custom roadster

So what do we have?  We have Mazda R100s, RX-2s, RX-3s, RX-4s, Cosmos (Series 2), Rotary Engine Pickups, and RX-7s. How unique are some of the cars we have? There is RX-7 chassis #33 believed to be a “Field evaluation vehicle” it’s the earliest known RX-7 in private hands (Mazda does own chassis #7). There is also RX-7 chassis #88 believed to be a “pre-production vehicle.” This car came with a unique story. It had been imported from Europe sometime in the ‘80s. This could be true as there were magazine articles in Europe in 1979 and 1980 and it appears to have been used for press evaluation. Another unique piece is a 1983 Pacific Avatar, these were custom convertible RX-7s built by Al Dooley. There is some debate about how many were made but the number seems to be less than 300 from 79-88. Two of the 1974 RX-4s coupes are within the first 100 produced and within 10 units of each other. Also, two of the 1976 Cosmos, chassis numbers 109 and 111, are identical twins. We also have a 1976 RX-3 coupe that was one of the last 20 off the line before the 77 styling change known as the RX-3sp. We have a complete, but basket-case 1978 RX-3sp with the Special Appearance package and it even has the original rare cold air intake.

Outside David's shop

Other cars we have include all 4 years of Rotary Pickups, a one owner 1972 RX-3, three J-spec Right Hand Drive 1979-80 RX-7s, a J-spec Right Hand Drive 1976 Cosmo AP. We also have several vintage race cars as well. We have a 1972 RX-2 SCCA GT-3, 1973 RX-2 IMSA, 1973 RX-2 SCCA ST class, 1977 RX-3sp SCCA ST-2. These cars are in various stages of reclamation or restoration. In addition to the special ones above, here are others that are part of the collection (all Mazdas obviously): 1971 1200 Wagon, 1970 1000 Pickup, 1973 and 75 RX-3 wagons, 1975, 76 and 78 RX-4 wagons, a whole passel of 1976-78 Cosmos, and a bunch of 1979-91 RX-7s. The lists above don’t take into account all the parts/raw material cars outside.  Please understand the cars outside would have all been crushed and these parts lost forever had we not stepped in.

1977 RX3SP SCCA ST-2

Seeing all these Rotary powered cars brought back some fun memories and kind of makes me want to get another one! What would guys think of us getting a RX-3 or RX-4 for the next BarnFinds project? I know they aren’t the coolest cars out there, but they are definitely unique and you don’t see them very often. Maybe we could put together an RX-4 wagon as a rally support vehicle and chase around some much more expensive machinery this summer. It certainly would be fun to hit the open road and possibly get a chance to meet some of you guys as we travel  around!

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Comments

  1. Don Andreina

    Thanks for sharing, David. As I’ve mentioned before, my attitude is; owner’s cars, owner’s rules. I don’t consider collections like yours ‘hoarding’ in any negative sense. Well done on preserving vehicles that were considered japcrap not too long ago. I personally love the non RX7 variants you’ve gathered, but each to his or her own.

    Josh and Jesse, an RX3 or 4 is massively desirable at the moment. Not that its all about $ value, but an R100 went for mid 5 figures at auction here in Australia a few years ago. With parts support from David, and the massive following worldwide for rotaries, this would be a great project for BF. And, no, I don’t really want to see you put one in a Pacer wagon. Great article.

  2. Jeff

    Wow. Love the IMSA and SCCA-spec cars. Those are super desirable, I’m sure. Frankly, I aspire to this type of collection some day – and the space to tinker!

    Thanks for sharing.

    -Jeff

  3. David

    I used to work at Mazda and rebuilt the engines. I owned an RX-3 that would clean the clock on a lot of small block chevy’s. Too bad that so many rusted away. They are great little cars and a ton of fun.

  4. Wiley Robinson

    Great story and I’m glad to see somebody say something positive about someone who collects large numbers of cars. These people often get portrayed in a bad light but in fact, they are the people who provide the whole hobby with spare parts, project cars and save the rare ones when they are just old unloved used cars.

    • Horse Radish

      Awesome ! well written and I whole-heartedly agree.
      David, thanks for sharing,
      For whatever reason you collected these cars is all good with me.

    • Tim H

      I agree. Now all we need is some positive stories about filppers, then we will have learned!

  5. Dolphin Member

    I’m glad to see that David is open and enthusiastic enough to write about his collection, despite the risk that some readers might call him a horder. Unlike some people with large collections/accumulations of cars, some featured here on BF, David has headed off all the possible misinformation and speculation, and has given everyone the facts up front. I’m guessing that even if rotaries aren’t their kind of engine there will still be lots of readers who can understand David’s passion and appreciate his comments about it. I’m certainly one of those.

    This is a very interesting entry, and to be honest, I’m a bit envious that I don’t have the space and whatever else it takes to have something like this myself…altho maybe on a slightly smaller scale. Anyway, all the best with your move, David, and thanks for this really interesting BF entry.

  6. Scott R Bosés

    Wow. All that and it includes Cosmos too! Everyone seems to be writing about those Cosmos right about now! Good on you for saving all of these cars! How many people will ask about buying some now? What if anything are you looking to sell. Would you give us a list?

  7. David Meditz

    Thanks for the positive replies guys it is really appreciated. I felt that this was the right place to explain myself and if anyone would understand you guys would. Am I willing to sell some yes. We do end up catching some cars that I don’t really need but are headed for the crusher and we try to ensure that they get adopted. I don’t want to push too much here but please look for me on facebook (just look up rotarydave) or send me an email rotarydave@aol.com. And for Josh and anyone else the parts are out there it just takes some digging. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4115903736532.2146410.1251387891&type=1

  8. Danger Dan

    This is fantastic! The first car I ever got on my own at age 16 was an Rx-4. I promptly burnt the dizzy cap doing donuts at the horse racing track. The warning buzzer was going off and I ignored it, thought nothing of it. The contacts were smeared all arounf the inside. That was the greatest little car and I will love them till I croak- thank you for this great entry. Made my day.

  9. Jeff V.

    Great article & collection of passion. First impressions do last, I grew up with a motor-head dad, his car was a 63′ Impala SS283 floor shift, buckets. His uncle bought/ordered new a 67′ Camaro SSRS427 console auto, buckets. My first car in HS was a 67′ Mustang fastback 390GTA, 2nd was a 70′ Nova SS350, 4spd. 3rd was a 70′ Torino 429CJ. Passions take precedent over logic sometimes but the feeling is priceless. Todays muscle car prices have me just looking and dreaming. I do fulfill my passion keeping up my aged 96′ Jaguar XJR Supercharged, thank god I have a great experienced neighborhood shop/mechanic that helps. David has a very envious amount of space for his passion, thanks for sharing.

  10. Old Bobby Friendship

    Good for you, Dave! Keep up the good work. Excellent article.
    I’ve had a couple of Mazdas over the years – fine cars.

    All the best to you and everyone here from the UK.

  11. Mark E

    I’m still chewing crow here, pardon me. I saw ‘largest Mazda collection’ and was ready to rip into the comments but after reading everything I have to admire and commend David. I’d be willing to put his collection up as the largest Mazda collection in North America anyway. I know of several Mazda collections, especially one in Japan, that is more diverse but this certainly has to be the largest I know of. This story is another good illustration of the kind of people that make this hobby great!

  12. Juan C. Lopez

    Nice collection David, been following you on Facebook, any 77 or 78 RX3, also 76-78 Cosmo. Thank You for your Service.

  13. paul

    I went to the F1 in Austin with a friend who lives in Corpus so I am familiar with the area,San Antonio was very nice & was where we stayed, don’t worry about rust it doesn’t rain ( for anybody unfamiliar with the area ) & the dust, well I guess you can’t get away from that in that part of the world, think of it as car cover’s from the sun. Great story & good cars/ sports cars….Doesn’t everybody on here wish they had a bone yard for what ever they collect, I sure do, not to mention the space .

  14. krash

    “First, I am an Active Duty Soldier and have been for the last 23 years”…David M.

    Hey David…..Thanks for serving our country for over two decades….and thanks for interesting story…..

    You’re the president/founder of your own “Rotary Club”.(rim shot)….

  15. Alex

    Great story and a great collection. When I was a toddler I did my teeth cutting on the handle of a craftsman 14mm wrench while my dad worked on a yard full of vw’s. My first word was screwdriver(or something closely resembling). This stuff gets in your blood. And the owner is not a hoarder so much as a custodian of the history of these cars. I wish him nothing but good fortune when the time comes to slow down his life and begin the restoration of his dream cars.

  16. Jim Klinzing

    I love it. Since my first rx7 i have loved them. Its nice to know someone has saved these cars from being destroyed. Start a museum. Id be there all the time!

  17. jim s

    great story. i would love to have that many cars and parts, but can’t. glad you can. always loved driving a mazda rotary, wish i had bought an RX7 when they came out. i see a miata in one of the pictures, i think. a madza rotary as the next BF project would great fun.

  18. Doug M. Member

    Great story, Great logic! Especially, if/when what you are storing was just about to be crushed in some cases! ANYTHING you do from that point forward is better than the crusher by a long shot!!! Great collection…. “at-ease, and carry on!”

  19. 67RebelSST

    Thanks for sharing this great collection. I always loved the RX-7. These are all worth saving in my book. You can go to any car show and see Cameros and Mustangs but any number of your cars would draw a crowd because it would be the only one there. Showing up in my 67 Rebel SST convertable does the same thing people don’t knoqw what it is and are drawn to it. goood luck on finding your perfect property to house your wonderful collection

  20. Shilo

    Wow I LOVE RX-7’s!!! I had four growing up. Went to the SCCA races and watched them race. This is awesome you are saving them.

  21. tommy mcnaught

    Excellent Story and superb collection,Thanks for sharing it with us.

  22. Bruce r. Colbert

    Anyone identify that yellow car on the right in the third picture @?

    • David Meditz

      The yellow car with the stripe (looks black is actually blue) is a 1976 Mazda Cosmo

  23. ConservativesDefeated

    Wow! Just wow! The dedication it takes, not to mention the time management when you have a career, like David does, is mind boggling.David deserves nothing but props for his work. Having said that I don’t think I have the mental or time management facility to stay on top of a situation like his. He clearly does.

    And of course those of us who read BarnFinds understand completely his viewpoint which he so articulately stated.

    Everybody needs to take a chill pill on the “hoarder” thing. Who cares?

  24. ConservativesDefeated

    One more thing ..not being a Mazda guy I might like the F1/F100 Ford? whose green tailgate is sticking out to the right in the first picture.

    I could see myself with acres of early Ford trucks scratching my head and wondering what to do next!

  25. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I just subscribed to the newsletter and this was the first story I received – and what a great story it is! I’m glad that you are following your passion and that you have a very lofty goal in mind for what you are doing. Good Luck!

    My personal experience with Mazda is that my engineer Dad always liked to have a car that was a little left of “normal”. He picked up an RX-4 wagon (I can still recall the “Rotary Wagon” badges) at the same time I got my driver’s license. I had a blast carting my buddies around in that, not really realizing how special that vehicle was. I still have a special spot in my heart for that vehicle.

  26. Mark Lawson

    Of everything you have (and you have a LOT of cool Mazdas!) I have always lusted after a Pacific Avatar. What a gorgeous adaptation of an already beautiful car. I am not merely jealous–I COVET that car!

    Thank you for your service, David!

  27. Morey987

    As a fellow rotor head this made my day! I’ve owned 8 rx7’s myself all first gens and I still can’t get enough. 9k rpm burnouts and doughnuts all day long.

  28. josh

    man what i would do for that Daytona fb.

  29. Paul G

    Great write-up, and like many other’s have stated, “Thank-you for serving our Country”
    Best of luck with your move.

  30. RickyM

    Well done David for saving Mazdas that would otherwise have been crushed. You have done what all of us would love to do and create a collection and make your mark in the history of that Marque !
    Good luck with your move and hope you have room for the Mazdas.

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