Sister’s death sparks life-too-short purchase

After cancer claimed his sister, he realized it was time to buy that Mazda RX-7 he’d always wanted. So he did. Now it belongs to his son

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My Classic Car
Sister's death leads to realization that life is short and it was time to buy that sports cars | Hillenaar family photos

In 1997 my Sister Yvonne passed away after a year long battle with lung cancer. I decided at the age of 41 that life was too short and I was going to do something for me.

For years I had put off buying a sports car. Something always came up that was more important in day to day life.

It was after my Sister passing away that I decided to get a sports car. No more waiting.

Mazda has been handed down to son, and replaced by a Honda S2000

I always wanted a Mazda RX-7 with the high-revving engine and sporty looks. But I always ended up buying something sensible for everyday use.

I found a red 1989 RX-7 GX in Toronto. It was non turbo. In decent shape but needed some TLC and a paint job. Over the years we put a fair amount of work and money into keeping her maintained.

We had the rotary engine replaced after 4 years of ownership with some 168,000 miles on her. We ordered a brand new engine from California from Mazda and had the dealer in Kitchener install the engine and new clutch at the same time.

I joined the West Pennsylvania RX-7 Club in Pittsburgh the nearest club I could find. Our son Chase loved accompanying me on these RX-7 meets all over the Eastern US. It was a perfect way to make our father son bond even stronger.

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We even bought another 1990 RX-7 for parts and Chase spent the entire summer carefully removing all of the spare parts from this parts car. We still have all of those parts now. Over the years we have also bought new parts from companies like Mazdatrix in the US worried that at some point parts would no longer be available.

The car became an heirloom and after Chase graduated I gave him the ownership and keys to the car as a graduation present in 2007. It has remained in our family all these years in memory of my sister. It has brought us many years of happiness and wonderful memories

I purchased a 2007 red Honda S2000 in 2008 to replace my RX-7. It too remains in our family. Both are extremely fun to drive with their high-revving engines and light weight.

— Paul Hillenaar, Ayr, Ontario, Canada

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I too have a 1990 GTU RX7. Only 100 made. Black in excellent condition. I also have a 2004 S2000 red with 30000 miles. Like new. My toys.

    • Hi George
      GTU had the light weight aluminium hood off the convertible right?
      We purchased one to put on Chase RX-7 but haven’t put it on because the repaint might not match the rest of car
      You have two great choices
      Maybe I will see you at one of the S2K meets

  2. I was always a big fan of the 1st gen RX7. But the 3rd gen car is also attractive because of the power and speed capabilities. It is so fast!

  3. Epic father/son story. How many of us have waited too long to own our dream-fun car(s). I have a 1980 1st gen RX7, a car I wanted as a youth and have had since 2001. I feel 22 yrs old every time I get into (or even look at) it. Time machines indeed. Kudos Paul.

    • Thanks Stu
      I drove the first gen when it first came out
      Great car
      That made me want to get one many years later
      Enjoy your drive

      • Great story. Love the father/son thing. Never drove later RX7 models, but had a good friend in Indianapolis that inherited his folk’s pristine first gen RX7 in a medium metallic blue over black back in the go-go ’80’s. Had a Jeep CJ5 all jacked up then, & we traded once in a while.
        A sweet, somewhat tail-happy lil car that one always “blinked” the hideaway lights when meeting another, much like the Jeep wave. A car that made one smile, no matter what.
        ☮️
        Ryan Corman
        Fargo ND

  4. i was 15 when my father bought a 66 ford galaxie 500 2dr fastback in Nitemist DK Blue. I remember thinking it looked like a Mustang’s Father. It had a 352 4V duel exhaust 250 HP motor. In the 70’s my father let me drive it and the oil light started to come on and flicker off. Stupid me thought it was a short in the system. So much for idiots reading a idiot light. The motor ran badly after i took it on the highway for a few miles. The Arab oil embargo made gas go to $1.50 fro 65 cents if you could get it. my father decided to junk this perfect looking car. i never got over that episode in my life and grabbed a rust free one in 2017 with a 390 4V. Wow what a nice car! i am so happy that i righted a wrongful episode in my life…

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