In 1982, Mazda condensed its previous three years of endurance racing lessons into a pair of rotary-powered RX-7 254i IMSA GTX race cars and sent them to Le Mans. Numbered 82 and 83, the latter had to retire from the race after a strong start, but the former finished a respectable 14th place. Both cars went on to race elsewhere in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately, one was lost in a crash. The other had not been seen for decades.
This car, recently uncovered in Okayama, is the number 83 racer and while it carries the scars of a competition veteran, it still looks the part of an IMSA racer.
While the greenhouse and doors are all RX-7, the fenders of the 254i, both front and rear, are wildly flared to fit appropriately sized race rubber. The rear wing is nowhere near as wide as the car’s haunches, an odd look dictated by IMSA rules at the time.
The twin RX-7 254i cars were the last production-based endurance cars Mazda competed before moving to Group C prototype racing that would eventually take them to the checkered flag with the 787B’s overall Le Mans win in 1991.
After such a prolonged storage, number 83 will need quite a lot of work to get to its former glory. Thankfully, Japanese Nostalgic Car reports that the racer will restored by Powercraft, a performance shop in the southern part of Japan. With any luck, his piece of Mazda’s rich motorsports history can once again fire up its rotary powerplant and rev as it should.