Mazda: here’s a brand that, at first glance, doesn’t necessarily sell dreams to car enthusiasts.
And yet true enthusiasts are not mistaken.
This brand is undeniably one of those that most often goes outside its comfort zone from a technological point of view. I could do an article just on the technologies they’ve tried, but that’s not the topic of the day.
The disruptive technology that Mazda has been talking about the most (and there seems to be a glimmer of hope that this will continue) is the Wankel engine called “rotary engine” (again, an article could be useful if there’s anything to say about that). Still, this motor powered by a rotor that “turns” in a housing inspired one of our exclusive designs. Yes, you can find rotors in the colours of the 787B, the 1991 Le Mans 24 hours winner, on our top of the range polo shirts and shirts.
The RX7 is probably one of the Japanese cars that has left its mark on Japanese automobile production.
Introduced in 1991, the design of the last of its name (code FD3S) still makes an impact. Time has no hold on it.
At the same time, in France, there were R21s and other 405s…
You should know, for the record, that it sold for 376,000 francs (approx 38000£) when it was released in France in 1992. Its direct competitor at the time: The HONDA NSX.
Beyond its design, it was really ahead of its time with a chassis that was close to perfection. The Japanese were eager to show Westerners their engineering quality. And they succeeded!
Its 1300cc twin-rotor engine weighed barely 100kg and was in a central front position. It had a perfect weight distribution (50/50).
Powered by 2 sequential turbos, it offered between 250 and 320hp depending on the version (and the time…) to its host.
The gearbox and the LSD (Torsen) were connected by a steel cage to increase the rigidity of the whole.
The drive trains were made of double aluminium triangles mounted on ball joints. This technology has, for example, only recently appeared on the Porsche 911.
In 1992, it was already a big decision to offer an aluminium bonnet. As a result, the buyer found himself with a car weighing around 1250kg for 250hp.
So much for synthesizing. Of course, having had the chance to drive this car on the track myself, I could talk to you about it for a while. I must admit that it remains the car that has bluffed me the most until today.
Let’s have a look at the model you have already seen in the opening of this article.
Vincent is a Japanese car enthusiast that I met when I had just bought one of my first sports cars. Another Mazda, less known but still worthy of recognition: a 1987 323 turbo 4×4 (the model that was used to homologate the Group A rally version and won the world championship in 1987).
You could almost say that we raised our RX7s together in a way. Except for one detail, he still owns his car and has done so for the past 12 years.
His car is actually an Efini (a full-fledged brand in Japan). It’s of Japanese origin but transited through England.
Its logo is very different from the Mazda logo. It takes the shape of a rotor.
This is a rare 1994 RZ model. This version, less equipped, was intended for the “tracker”. It’s a good thing Vincent is one of them.
Originally fitted with Bilstein shocks and firmer springs, it didn’t have a rear window wiper, nor a sunroof to scratch a few pounds.
Recently, Vincent sent his 4 shocks to Viarouge in order to recondition and improve them to gain traction, which was a bit lacking when accelerating. He said he was delighted with this new setting and the work of the French tuner.
Add to this a kit of rigid silent blocks, a KTS lower front reinforcement bar and an Auto-Exe anti-lock bar that is stiffer than the original one and you get a very sharp chassis that allows you to have fun on the track without being uncomfortable on the road.
We can really say that this RX7 is in the “Club-Sport” spirit.
Vincent’s RX7 is an sporty version, it benefits from parts from the Mazdaspeed catalog (Mazda’s racing department).
The Mazdaspeed rear wing is one of these accessories improved by the manufacturer to increase aerodynamic support.
On the outside, Vincent didn’t overdo it. He simply added a carbon fiber hood. Not for the weight, since it weighs about the same as the original aluminium one, but more for the cooling: a critical point for this “small engine” and especially for its turbos.
Vincent has also added a rear diffuser of the most beautiful effect, both aesthetically and aerodynamically.
The interior is like the rest of the car: pragmatic. A few improvements, a few subtle touches of sportiness and useful gauges for the driver but nothing more.
Japanese are rarely tall, as we know. As a result, Japanese versions of the RX7 are limited to the seat rails. So Vincent was quick to use Mazda’s export versions as an example to modify the rails to fit his five foot eight. As for the harnesses, they maximize support and safety.
The Odyssey PC685 battery has been carefully stowed in the trunk. The rear struts-bar remains original…for the moment.
Vincent has two wheels configurations.
For the road he uses very rare BBS Le Mans golden BBS with the most beautiful effect.
For the circuit, he rides the white Rota wheels you have in front of you.
UNDER THE BONNET:
On the engine side, the owner’s perfectionism has been proven once again.
The block is a 13B-REW of 2 x 654cc. It has been checked and rebuilt by Vincent who only cleaned the intake ports. Yes, yes as on the 2 stroke engines of our mopeds (#eightiespeople), the Wankel engine has ports that give directly into the engine. So it doesn’t need valves. One of the preparation technique consists in enlarging the ports, we then speak about “porting”.
Around the block, on the other hand, it is not the same song. Everything is optimized, starting with the cooling.
Engine cooling first, with a larger capacity aluminum radiator. But above all cooling of the air intake into the engine.
And yes, turbos have many advantages, but they compress the gases and thus warm them up copiously.
The original intercooler (intake air cooler) is very (too) small and the temperature of the intake air can rise up to 80°C. When you know that you lose about 1 horsepower every 3 degrees, you quickly want to bring this temperature down.
So Vincent opted for a very large aluminium radiator (on the picture). This one is positioned in “V mount”. It forms, with the water radiator, a V forward in which the air rushes in. The air flow then separates. Upwards it cools the Intercooler, and downwards the water radiator. This is one of the favourite assemblies of tuners. It also prevents the intake manifolds from becoming too long. This reduces the response time (also called “LAG”) of the turbo.
As you can see, the engine bay is very neat. On the left you can admire the Turbo Borgwarner EFR, which advantageously replaces the 2 original Hitachi turbos. The latter are a real gas factory and are the cause of many failures that have contributed to the reputation of the RX7.
These 20 years of technological progress really make the difference. Vincent is full of praise for his turbo. With the right mapping he really won in every way. His goal was above all to make the engine more reliable. That didn’t stop him from getting a big hundred extra horsepower. The small 1.3 litre engine is now rated at almost 400 hp. Vincent told me that it was more than enough to set good lap times on the track. For having driven it on the day of the shooting, I can confirm that it’s enough to have a smile screwed on your face. I’m not even talking about the sound that this turbo makes at the slightest pedal input.
The air is filtered by a K&N element that Vincent plans to supply with “cooler” air by adding an extra air intake.
A big oil catch tank has been added to avoid “recycling” the oil vapors that can be quite important on circuits. The idea here is to recover the oil rather than sending it back to the engine to burn it.
Exhaust gases are discharged through a Racing Beat stainless steel line (THE American specialist of the Mazda engine). The sound remains sober when cruising… however, when accelerating, you can fully enjoy the special vocals of this engine.
Here you know everything or almost everything about this superb car that I let you admire in the few “bonus” shots. We proceeded to the shooting in an old mine in North of France ( which offered an ideal setting for beautiful pictures. Vincent, then injured, preferred not to be photographed with the polo shirt he ordered from us. Needless to say that he jumped at the opportunity to match his “wardrobe” with his passion for “Rotary” which he enjoys wearing in the offices where he works.
You should know that he is part of a group of wankel engine enthusiasts of which I am also a member: The NORTH ROTARY GANG.
So much for that article.
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Once again, we have created this brand of clothing out of passion, so we want to share it as much as possible.
That’s also that : the CLUB NÜRMANSTONE.
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