Race, Daily, Restore: Tenth Anniversary Editions

Today, our theoretical conundrum features a trio of 10th anniversary specials: the 1988 Mazda RX-7, 1980 Datsun 280ZX, and 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. A decade in production is not all that remarkable for a model line, so the somewhat lame nature of these limited editions is probably par for the course. All of these aspired to sporty-ness and performance, though the Mazda is quite a bit less malaise-y than its two predecessors. All three were also marketed as desirable, limited-volume collectors’ editions.
Your job is to tell me which of the three you would:

  • RACE – build into some sort of dedicated racing machine (not street legal) for your choice of competition — any legitimate, sanctioned form of motorsport: road course, rally, drag, LSR, Baja, etc.;
  • DAILY – have as your sole street-registered car, for all your commuting and general transportation needs.
  • RESTORE – do a museum-quality, factory-correct, frame-off restoration, then add to your collection, but not drive on the street.

Your choices should be accompanied by your persuasive justification, or at the very least which choice you felt most strongly about.

  1. Assume that you’re given these three vehicles outright, so there’s no acquisition cost, but the cost of race-prepping, maintaining, insuring and restoring them will be on you.
  2. Assume the cars are in “average condition” for their age; neither junk nor in flawless condition.
  3. These are your ONLY three cars. You cannot factor in any other cars you might actually own, e.g., “I’ll daily the MR2 because I have a van I can take the kids in…” Likewise, you can’t sell the restored car to buy another vehicle.
  4. You must assign one of the cars to each category. You can’t say, “I’ll race my street car,” or “I’ll drive that one for a season then restore it.”
  5. You can’t half-ass a car you don’t like, such as theoretically racing Lemons or doing a “20-footer” cosmetic restoration.

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18 responses to “Race, Daily, Restore: Tenth Anniversary Editions”

  1. robbydegraff Avatar

    Race the Trans AM, Restore the RX7, Daily the Z. Love the old ads.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Restore: The Poncho. Have you seen pricing on late 70’s T/As? Insanity at it’s finest. Plus parts are probably the cheapest to come by.
    Daily: It may be the most fickle of the 3, but I do love me some 2nd gen Rx7
    Race: I’m weird, I know, but I don’t care for the 280Z (or 240Z or 260Z or 280ZX or a Z31 gen 300ZX. Now a Z32 era 300ZX, oooooh baby, but I digress) so I’ll thrash and trash that fugly Datsun. Maybe figure 8 racing, or demo derby just to make purists weep.

  3. Alff Avatar

    Daily coke dealer Z, race torqueless wonder, restore last fist pump of mullet pride.

  4. fede Avatar

    Daily the Trans Am, because I’d love a muscle car for the street…
    Restore the rx-7, it’s the most significant (wankel!) and probably the hardest to maintain (wankel!)
    Race the Z, since I prefer the trans am for the street, and the Z probably is a better base (better handling?) for a race car.

  5. 0A5599 Avatar

    Restore the Trans Am. The days of $600 driver-quality 2nd generation F bodies have apparently ended.
    Race the 280ZX. Because Paul Newman.
    That leaves the RX-7 for the streets.

  6. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

    Daily the RX-7 and insurance fire the other two.

  7. theskitter Avatar

    Race: Normally I am an advocate of physically smaller, lighter, delicate racing cars. Today is not that day. Give me the big displacement, easy power, meaty tired Trans Am.
    Daily: All of these are terrible dailies. The RX-7 is the least terrible.
    Restore: I considered the Cadillac a few weeks back as a couch to sit in front of a movie projector. Maybe I’ll use the Datsun as a driving simulator.

  8. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Good lord. I’d daily the RX-7 because even I, a man who has worn Star Trek: TNG socks with Birkenstocks sandals, couldn’t bear to be seen in that Trans Am. The Black Gold Dong Machine is second place for dailyable. The RX-7 is the best-looking of these even if it is cocaine-chic.
    Restore the Trans-Am just so I can stick it in the waaaaaay back of my collection. Like, in the barn. (Does this violate Rule No. 5?) Someone will pay money for it… eventually. It’s more likely than the others to appreciate in value.
    I’d race the Datsun because racing Datsuns seems like the obvious thing to do.

    1. wunno sev Avatar
      wunno sev

      why do old car ads always show a hand waggling the stick around in a completely unnatural way

      1. Alan Cesar Avatar
        Alan Cesar

        The shifter grab is intentionally wrong. Notice the key is turned to “ON”, not START. The innuendo is dripping off the end of this… ad.

        1. wunno sev Avatar
          wunno sev


  9. outback_ute Avatar

    I wonder why the 10th anniversary TransAm was in 1979 – wasn’t Pontiac paying attention?

    1. salguod Avatar

      First Firebird was in 1967, first Trans Am was in 1969.

  10. Sean McMillan Avatar
    Sean McMillan

    I’ve dailied a 280zx and it was pretty fun even though it was completely clapped out, rusty, loud and occasionally on fire, so I’d daily that ( with an extra fire extinguisher on board) race the Mazda, restore the firechicken.

  11. Ed Avatar

    Restore the Trans Am, daily the RX-7 and race the 280ZX. I’ve wanted a 10th anniversary Trans Am since I saw one at the dealership when I was a kid.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    Daily the Trans-Am. I always liked Trans-Ams. I don’t know for a fact, but it’s possible my first car ride was in a ’74 SD-455.
    Race the Datsun …because I had an Autobot Transformer that was a 280Z in car mode.
    Restore the Mazda I guess?

  13. crank_case Avatar

    I don’t get the restore option in these articles? I mean I get restoring, but I could never do all that work to a car, then never drive it on the street. A car that isn’t driven, isn’t a car, it’s expensive furniture. It’s just an anathema to me. I could understand restore and keep for sunny days alright.