I used to own a basic Ford Ranger. Prior to my ownership, someone probably used as a work truck. It had no frills and I didn’t drive it often, but I hung onto it for almost 10 years because it was a workhorse. Every once in a while, I found myself needing a truck to carry things I couldn’t – or didn’t want to – fit in the back of whatever car I had at the time. Over time, I found myself using my old Ranger less and less. Eventually, I donated it to charity and it found a new life with someone else. Instead, I bought an SUV that would be better suited to off-road adventures but could still fill in for the occasional trip to the home improvement store.
And then one day, I found myself in a predicament. My wife’s Vespa had an appointment for a tune-up and neither of us could get it to fire up after a long winter in storage. After carefully measuring things, I discovered there was no way I’d be able to get her scooter into the back of my SUV. I would need to borrow a truck or a trailer to get it to the shop. Unfortunately, my F150-driving neighbors were out of town so I rang up Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection and asked if I could borrow the 1977 Mazda Rotary Engine Pickup for the afternoon.
Although the plucky little Mazda REPU doesn’t get rented as often as some of the more iconic cars like the Mustangs or Porsches in the fleet, it’s built a solid reputation for itself as a fun shop truck. It’s perfect for ferrying parts to various shops around town or for transporting the occasional motorcycle, or in my case, a scooter. Heck, it even gets used on the occasional road rally, such as the Ralleye de Valleye over the past few years.
When the time came to bring the Vespa in, we were blessed with perfect weather: 70 degrees and sunny skies. I certainly appreciated the nice weather and it must’ve raised everyone else’s spirits as well. Everywhere we went, the little pickup got smiles, thumbs up, and questions about what it was and how it drove. People loved looking at the REPU, affectionately dubbed “Mini Horse” and I loved driving it! After carefully loading in and strapping down the Vespa, we made the 3-mile jaunt to Scooterville. I’m sure the service advisor appreciated how easy it was to unload the scooter, thanks to the REPU’s low bed height.
Borrowing the REPU turned what should’ve been a frustrating endeavor into a real pleasure. Running through the gears and hearing the rotary engine wind up put a massive smile on my face. The not-so-small fireballs that occasionally burped from of the tailpipe turned out to be a joy for other drivers as well. I know I could’ve gone to U-Haul or Home Depot and rented a truck from them for the afternoon. By using the REPU instead, I turned what would’ve been a chore into a fun driving experience instead.