30 June 2023

Canberra to host 45th birthday party for iconic Mazda (and even the Japanese ambassador has RSVP'd)

| James Coleman
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Mazda car show

7’s Day celebrates the iconic rotary-powered Mazda RX-7. Photo: Justin Bush.

You’ve probably never heard of the Wankel engine (stop giggling, this is serious), but you’ve certainly heard of the cars it powered, and next weekend, aficionados will assemble to sing its praises. Even the Japanese Ambassador will make an appearance.

Kazuhiro Suzuki from the Embassy of Japan will be among the special guests at Canberra’s 7’s Day, Sunday, 9 July.

ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tara Cheyne and ACT Greens member Johnathan Davis will also be attending the ‘Mazda event of the year’, designed to celebrate the iconic Mazda RX-7 sports car while also raising money through snag and drink sales for Menslink.

It’s organised by proud RX-7 owner Rob Taylor in honour of a series of events that unfold across Japan every 7 July (you can see what they did there).

“For the first Canberra event in 2018, I basically put a post out on Facebook saying I’m going to be out with my RX-7, and anyone who wants to join me is welcome,” he says.

“We had about 15 cars turn up. Since then, it’s grown exponentially until last year, when we had about 50 come, including a couple of guys from Sydney.”

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The RX-7 bloodline runs from 1978 to 2002, starting when Mazda took the rotary engine they’d perfected in the Cosmo Sport and shoehorned it into the front of a two-door coupe body. Shows like The Fast and the Furious, Fast Getaway II, and Initial D took care of the rest and turned them into cult icons.

Rob’s is a 2002 Bathurst R model, commemorating the 12-hour race of the same name in Australia, where the RX-7 was victorious for three consecutive years (1992 to 1994). Despite the badge, it was never officially imported here and was only limited to 500 units for the Japanese domestic market.

“I got into them, funnily enough, by watching Initial D when I was younger,” he says.

“One of the main cars in that series is a yellow RX-7, and this came up at the right time and the right price, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ve gotta have it’.”

Mazda RX-7

Rob Taylor’s Mazda RX-7 Bathurst R was one of only 500 made, and even fewer were privately imported to Australia. Photo: Rob Taylor.

As for the connection to Menslink, this runs even deeper for Rob.

“My background is in the trades, and a couple of years back, one of my mates left work all happy and cheery and then just didn’t turn up the next day. He took his own life.

“Once I experienced that, I asked myself if there was anything I could do to help and went looking for a charity that helps out other young men in these situations, and that’s when I came across Menslink.”

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7’s Day is co-run by MazdACT, a group of local Mazda aficionados founded during the COVID lockdown by Mazda 3 SP23 owner Justin Bush. He says 7’s Day fits into a calendar of monthly meets that not only provides owners with an opportunity to take their cars out for a cruise but also support a variety of local businesses while they’re at it.

“I’m someone who grew up in an age when we saw the loss of suburban shops, and living in Latham, we lost Latham shops, and that’s never sat well with me ever since,” Justin says.

“So not only are we a car group that brings together passionate – and just casual – car people, our regular meets are also something we use to recharge some of the businesses in the suburban town centres.”

Mazda car show

Mazda RX-7 coupes on show outside the CIT Fyshwick campus. Photo: Justin Bush.

Some businesses, including Pitch Black Cafe at the Rivett Shops, have had to put on extra staff on the days MazdACT drop in to visit to keep up with the surge in demand for coffee.

Justin says there’s also an aspect to celebrating the last of the great internal-combustion cars, particularly one that took the idea of the rotary engine and made it work (most of the time).

“With the impending arrival of electric cars, who knows what all that is going to look like in the next few years, so we’re really just making the most of a unique time in history … and celebrating.”

7’s Day will be held from 10 am to 2 pm on Sunday, 9 July, at CIT Fyshwick, 81 Mildura Street.

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