Works 1985 Mazda RX-7 Group B beast awaits its debut rally
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During the hay day of Group B rallying in the mid-80s the World Rally Championship field was stacked with all manner of machinery from the world’s best car makers.
The likes of Ford, Lancia, Audi, Peugeot, Porsche and even Ferrari got in on the action, homologating their best road cars for full flight on rallying’s biggest stage.
However, what is less well known is just as the doomed Group B category was approaching its final days Mazda got in on the action too, under the guidance of Achim Warmbold, team principal of Mazda Rally Team Europe – and that’s where the curious case of this unused 1987 Mazda RX-7 Group B rally car begins.
Specifically, this car is chassis MRTE 019. It was fully completed on schedule back in the '80s but never entered into any serious competition action and is now believed to be the only original example in existence.
Mazda headquarter had largely ignored Warmbold’s Belgium-based team’s earliest campaign with a front-wheel drive Group A Mazda 323, but the wankel powered Group B Mazda RX-7 managed to get the attention of head office.
Group B homologation rules required Mazda Rally Team Europe to build 20 RX-7’s. But by the time Group B was abolished in 1987, only seven of the 20 were fully assembled.
Three of the completed RX-7’s made their way to New Zealand in 1985 and competed in the local round of the World Rally Championship – driven by Mike Montgomery, Neil Allport and Stuart Eyre. That same year a certain Rod Millen also had an outing in a Group B RX-7 at the final World Championship round in Great Britain.
MRTE 019 was built 1985, the same year Audi unleased their four-wheel drive Quattro S1, and is one of seven to be completed. However, after Group B’s day was done, it sat in the corner of Mazda Rally Team Europe’s facility for over half a decade.
In the early 1990s the car was acquired by a Swiss Mazda importer along with a range of remaining RX-7 chassis's and spares lying around the team’s headquarters.
The RX-7 went on display in Switzerland for a number of years before being purchased by a private buyer and disappearing into obscurity, until now.
Let the bidding war begin.