Friday, July 17, 2009

Leif and the Mazda RX-7

When Leif was a senior in high school and trying to decide where to go to college, he wasn't enthused about all the application paperwork and also not very enthused about spending four more years in school, yet he wanted to go to college and knew he needed to get his degree. He didn't know what he wanted to major in, which made picking a school all the more difficult. In the end he decided to apply to only three schools, a university in Maryland he chose because it was near where his high school love from Puerto Rico (K.) was going to school, and the two Kansas flagship universities, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. We had told both our sons we would provide an in-state university education for them, but if they wanted something more expensive, they would have to figure out how to finance the remainder through scholarships or loans.

Sometime during this process, Leif discovered a used Mazda RX-7 for sale for $5000. He wanted it badly. The car connoisseur had found his dream car . . . at least the one he thought might be within reach. He was fascinated the the rotary Wankel engine and the car was stylish, rear wheel drive, and fast. When he came to us wanting this car, his dad made him a deal that if he lived at home and went to KSU, he would get him the car, since there would be a very substantial savings in having him go to school in Manhattan and live with us over paying for a dorm room, meal plan, and transportation to and from Lawrence. He would need some kind of transportation anyway. Leif agreed readily. He wasn't committed to a particular school or going away to school, and he really wanted that car.

I wasn't enamored of this deal. Although would enjoy having Leif with us longer, I felt that it would be better for his development if he left home for college. Whether that really would have been true, we will never know. We can never go back to find out whether doing something different would have resulted in a better outcome.

I think he got this car before he finished his senior year of high school, and he drove it to school. What an awesome change from the old Maxima station wagon! Leif was tall, slim, and good looking. With his long hair, he looked like a guy who should have been on the cover of romance novels. In those days, he was also a fashionable dresser, and he was fond of wearing his long brown leather coat. He also got his first job at Idleman Telemarketing, and had his own spending money, which he quickly used to get himself a cell phone, long before they were common among adults, let along high school students. He must have seemed like a very cool dude.

Leif had this car for about four and a half years, I think. During that time, he finished high school, completed nearly three years of college, got married, and managed to have an accident with the car. I think the accident happened in the first year he had it. According to him, he was out on Fort Riley Boulevard near what was then the Holiday Inn . At the traffic light there, someone got in his way and he had to swerve, resulting in him smacking the car into the pole that held the traffic light. Luckily for him, he was not hurt and the car was repairable. The insurance paid for it and he had it painted a dark green instead of the dark blue it was when he got it. The paint job was an improvement because the original had some problems on the roof, as I recall.

Leif loved that car, but as he got deeper into debt and wanted to keep the motorcycle he bought (the Yamaha) and the old Ford 150 truck he had purchased, he finally sold the RX-7 to a man who was then his brother-in-law. I don't know whether he ever got the full purchase price from B., since he sold in on a personal contract, but he did get the majority of the money. He vowed that he would have another RX-7 someday, and when the RX-8s came out, he vowed that he would get one of those, and eventually, he did. Of all Leif's cars, I don't know whether this one or the RX-8 was his favorite.

Surprisingly, I haven't found any photos of the RX-7 among our photos or Leif's. I can't imagine that we didn't take any. I managed to come up with a kind of composite photo to give an idea of what it was like, but it's not good.

The photo above show Leif as he looked in August 1993 just before he started college. It was taken on the Caribbean NCL cruise we took. The car photo is similar to his RX-7.

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