Late in my high school career, I found a Saab 900 turbo sedan for sale on eBay. The bidding was only up to a couple hundred dollars; I had some cash from my first job and Target and decided to put a bid in. I won it for $350. My father told me to get rid of it as soon as I brought it home, so I hid it at the school auto shop and eventually sold it to a classmate after barely driving it. That felt like a missed opportunity, but a few years later I found another one on Craigslist for $500 that seemed to have few issues. Of course, I bought it, and finally got to experience one of these weird and wonderful cars for quite some time.
A weird and wonderful technical innovation thrown into a charming little sports car is exactly the kind of thing I’m into, which is why I’ve always been a big fan of the Mazda RX-cars. The Mazda rotary engine is a really interesting product; much easier to work on than a typical piston engine, while providing explosive power for its size with an astronomical rev limit. The 1st generation RX-7s depreciated pretty heavily in the 2000’s, and I’ve had a couple of them.
In 2006, I discovered the so-called BABE Rally, where each team had to purchase a vehicle for $250 or less and complete a maniacal cross-country road trip from New York to New Orleans (or, the Big Apple to the Big Easy, hence the acronym). Somehow, I convinced my parents to let me participate as a high-school graduation present and got two friends to come with me. So we started looking for a car; I had already developed an odd taste, so I demanded something more interesting than a Civic or Corolla. Then, one day, a running 1984 Renault Encore showed up on Craigslist. The asking price? $175. Thus began my journey of growing to love one of the most hated compact cars ever sold on U.S. soil.