1982 Rx7-254i Le Mans found

Mazda is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a company although they did not start manufacturing true automobiles until 1960.  They did build a three wheeled truck in 1931 and although the Mazda factory survived with light damage after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and served as a field hospital, coming back from that singular incident is no small accomplishment.  Covid has hampered any festivities for this young, small and highly ambitious car company.  As early as 1970, they began challenging the ultimate 24 Hours of Le Mans by placing the 10A rotary engine from their R100 coupe in a Chevron B16 chassis.  When the Rx7 debuted in 1979, it was immediately found at La Sarthe but failed to qualify for the last or 55th spot even with the factory backing of Mazdaspeed.  The factory would not see some semblance of victory until 1982 when significant aerodynamic bodywork additions to the road going Rx7 body along with the 13B engine with direct injection and 320 bhp allowed them to qualify 50th and 53rd.  But at nearly 1000kg, they were too heavy to compete on speed but were ready to play the rotary reliability card.

RX7-254Speed
Rx7-254i model wearing livery from the apparel company JUN. The heavily louvered engine hood is thereby referred to as a JUN hood and highly sought after by Rx7 owners.
RX7-25482AND83
At the 1982 Le Mans, Mazdaspeed fielded two cars. The addition of the wing decreased top speed but allowed higher cornering speeds and stability.
 

#82 was driven by Canadian/Australian driver Allan Moffat and codrivers Yojiro Terada and Takahashi Yorino.   They managed to finish the race in 14th position outright and 6th in the highly competitive GTX class.  The Rx7 finished ahead of a BMW M1 and a 5.7L V8 Camaro with 600 bhp.  Finishing at Le Mans is considered its own victory when only 18 cars out of the original 55 finished at all in 1982.  Unfortunately #83 had engine failure on the Mulsanne Straight just before dawn after both cars ran magnificently and #83 had risen to 8th position overall.   This would be the last appearance of the Rx7 at Le Mans.  Stripping a road going car was not going to work, a dedicated race build competing in the top prototype category lay in Mazda’s future.  I need not remind you culminating in the outright win with the 787B in 1991 – the first win by a non Western country and by a non piston engined car.

The cars seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth for the next 35 years.  Until February 2019 when #83 was discovered in Okayama by none other than Isami Amemiya, owner of legendary rotary tuning house RE Amemiya.  It was ultimately purchased by his friend Masachito Ito who ran a carbon composite and exhaust manufacturing firm.  Masachito stripped and restored the body with plans to replicate the bolt on aero bodywork while Amemiya attended to the engine – both with an eye to preserving authenticity of period parts in order to allow the car to run in future Le Mans Classic races.  Survivor#84

Moreframe
While using the original 13B engine housings, the front cover and certain internal components and the alternator are derived from the FD3S. Most of the dry sump system, brake calipers, missions, propeller shafts, differentials and suspension links, and watt links are original products. Shocks, radiators and distributors are replaced by modern mass production units with similar specifications.

frame
Original parts were disassembled, overhauled and regenerated where possible. Rubber parts and the electrical harness were replaced outright. The gas bag of the fuel tank is a new product of ATL and the container newly built. Two of the four fuel pumps were recycled but two new ones had to be sourced.

Shakedown is expected to take place in the Spring of 2021!

Below is the final step of the completed restoration!

Screen Shot 2021-07-01 at 10.40.05 PM
The car will debut to the public at Mobara Twin Circuit on July 7th!

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