My love for RX-7’s had turned into an interest in fixing cars. I joined the Industrial Tech and Engineering Academy in my High School, which was the closest thing to Auto Shop we had. We explored automotive, welding, soldering, and more. We had a Universal Technical Institute (UTI) rep come in and show us all about the school. It planted the idea of becoming an automotive technician in my head. I still had a year of high school left to mull it over. Shortly after high school, I had bought an FD (see FD + broken thumb= Higher Education) and decided I was going to give it a go at being an automotive technician. I started this path by attending UTI’s new campus in Sacramento. I was part of the second class to graduate there. My end goal was to be accepted into one of UTI’s manufacturer sponsored programs. I figured if I was going to go to UTI then I was going to make the absolute best out of it. I quickly became known as the “rotary guy” at UTI. Being that the school was new, we would always get excited to see what new cars and people were going to show up with the next group of students. Sadly no RX-7’s ever showed up in my time there. My second class was taught by Mr. Moots and was basic engines. Mr. Moots was and older teacher with loads of experience especially in the diesel field. He found out that I had an RX-7 and told me that he, too, owned one. The original owner of a 1984 RX-7 GSL-SE. For those that don’t know the, GSL-SE was the top of the line fuel injected 13B equipped model of the 1st gen RX-7’s. I talked to him about it and he told me that it had been sitting for quite some time. It had around 135k miles and was all original, but he had parked it and the battery died and so it sat for many years. I asked him if he wanted to sell it and to my surprise he told me that if I graduated with a 4.0 that he would give me the car. Since my goal at UTI was already to get good grades I said, “Challenge accepted!” Throughout my year at UTI Mr. Moots would ask me if I still had a 4.0 GPA and I am pleased that I was able to graduate with a 4.0 and 4 different “Student of the Course” awards (given to the student with the highest scores of a particular course). I also interviewed and was accepted to the Merceded Benz ELITE program at the Rancho Cucamonga UTI campus. A manufacturer paid 3 month Mercedes Benz specific training program. Shortly after graduation I arranged a time to pickup the GSL-SE and Mr. Moots made good on our deal. The car was currently not running and registration was long past due so I would have to tow the car home from Shingle Springs, CA. He lived on a hill with a windy narrow road and so I parked at the bottom of the hill and road up to his house with him. We put some air in the tires and then he towed me down the hill with a rope connected to his Diesel VW rabbit. He drove much faster than I anticipated and on the foggy damp day I must say it was quite a nervous “first drive.” The tow home was also interesting because we had loaded the car on the U-Haul facing backwards. The weight wasn’t quite balanced right and resulted in a trailer that would occasionally sway back and forth. I had to stop in the rain and try to move the car further forward to keep the weight over the tongue. I managed the rest of the way home with out incident and unloaded the car and immediately got to work.
First things first was getting a battery in it and seeing if the car would start. I changed the oil and put some fresh gas in the tank along with a new battery and gave it a crank. To my surprise it started right up! It actually ran really good. I got a temporary moving pass and was able to drive it on the street. With only a few weeks before I had to leave for Rancho Cucamonga my time to work on the car and get it registered was very short. I was unable to get the car smogged and registered before I left. So I drove the FD down to Rancho Cucamonga, returning home once every few weeks. It came time to smog the FD in December, which it failed miserably. So now I had to park both RX-7’s and drove my parents Ford Expedition back down south. The rotaries would have to wait until after graduation.