A Japanese Le Mans hero is now for sale
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When we consider the 24 Hours of Le Mans, our first thoughts centre on the likes of Audi, Porsche, Ford, and Ferrari. Not so much manufacturers from Japan, and certainly not Mazda (unless you're a sports-car nerd, in which case please skip to the fifth paragraph).
But, Mazda was once a formidable name at the French motorsport marathon during the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Over a period of almost 10 years competing in the Group C prototype era, the marque walked away with a host of constructor's titles, class victories, and most famously outright victory of the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jonny Herbert, Volker Weidler, and Bertrand Gachot behind the controls.
Since then Mazda's involvement in international motorsport has never equaled these heights, which is strange.
For a company that sells a sports car and pushes the perception of performance in even their cheaper vehicles, it's strange that they haven't revisited Le Mans.
They haven't completely severed ties with motorsport, as evidenced by our very own ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett as well as their Daytona Prototype machines — though none of these are a full guns-blazing Le Mans tilt.
None of them is the 787B. Though, neither is this.
It looks very similar, down to the illustrious colour scheme, but it's actually a 767B. Specifically the #003 chassis that helped Mazda claim an IMSA GTP class win at Le Mans in 1990.
Gooding & Company, an auction house in California, has this historic Mazda up for sale. And next to all of the drab supercars and classics they have for sale, this sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. It did that while on track too, almost completely because of its unique 13J 450kW quad-rotor engine, which produces an absolutely almighty scream unlike any other kind of race car.
What's it worth? Between $1.8–2.4 million dollars US ($2.5–3.3 million NZD) according to Gooding & Company. Probably not too far adrift from the cost of the priceless LMP1 machines Porsche and Toyota compete with today.
Not bad for an old rotary.