Featured: This Four-Rotor Le Mans Legend Is Headed For The Amelia Island Auction Block

This Four-Rotor Le Mans Legend Is Headed For The Amelia Island Auction Block

By Andrew Golseth
February 28, 2017

Photos provided by Gooding & Company

2017 will mark the 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans, and yet Mazda is still the only car from the Land Of The Rising Sun that’s ever secured a Le Mans victory (Toyota’s heartbreaks extend to well before last year). Mazdaspeed is also the only team in history to claim an overall win at Le Mans with non-piston combustion engines, making these Japanese racers all the more idiosyncratic.

An evolution of its 757 and 767 prototype predecessors, the 767B most notably gained an upgraded 2,616cc 13J Whirling-Twirling-Dorito-of-Doom Wankel rotary engine: a four-rotor flame-spitting screamer. The new powertrain could be revved-out to a deafening 9,000-plus-rpm, and was capable of making over 700 naturally aspirated horsepower. However, Mazdaspeed opted to slightly detune the output of the 13J to roughly 630 horsepower in an effort to increase longevity—still ample power for a carbon-bodied chassis weighing around 800 kilograms, or about 1,700 pounds. The restrained tune played out to be a smart move as it kept the 767B extremely reliable, which greatly made up for its overall slower lap times.

The 767B offered here is chassis 003 and was constructed for the 1989 season. Its racing history includes a debut season finish of 12th overall in the ‘89 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a 3rd place finish in its GTP class. It went on to place 2nd in class at the ’89 Fuji 1000 Kilometres endurance race (since renamed to the 6 Hours of Fuji), and in 1990 this car took 20th overall/1st in the GTP class in the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans followed by a return stint at the 1990 Fuji 1000 Kilometres, where it earned 6th place overall, and 1st in its class.

Upon retiring from official Mazdaspeed backing, the car was sold and continued racing under privateer drivers until it was decided by the current caretaker to give the car a well-deserved restoration. The motorsport specialists at Rennwerk GmbH were tasked with the extensive, no-cost-spared rebuild to return the aesthetics and mechanics back to its 1989 season specifications. The kevlar cloak was reunited with the chassis and received a fresh coat of the iconic Renown sponsor’s orange and green livery.

As tested on the dyno, the rebuilt 13J is putting out the 630 horsepower it made in-period. Upon completion, the car was sent to the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed for a thorough shakedown where the car performed flawlessly to an enthralled and enthusiastic crowd.

The car is accompanied with a garageful of extra equipment and spares which includes the ‘89-spec body, an additional set of wheels, and various suspension, engine, and transmission parts—a more detailed list is available upon request. The car is sold with a Bill-of-Sale, but we’ve heard Florida is pretty lenient on issuing titles and registration.

The car is scheduled to hit front and center stage at the Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction on Friday March 10, 2017. With the hammer drop guesswork between $1,800,000-$2,400,000, this type of exclusivity doesn’t come inexpensively, but we imagine it’d be tough to recall how much your second mortgage is when your driving your new “house” around Goodwood Circuit at a stratospheric 9,000 revolutions per minute. Brap Tastefully.

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Martin Philippo
Martin Philippo
5 years ago

This topic is useless without audio files!

5 years ago

I turned my couch upside-down, and didn’t find enough change for this incredible machine’s drain plug. God, wouldn’t it be great to get to have a go in it.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
5 years ago
Reply to  JB21

Ha! My thoughts exactly. Put me in, coach! This looks like it would fit very well. I would definitely give it a go, no hesitation at all.

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson
5 years ago

Rotary engines, probably the most misunderstood engines of all time.
I had an RX7 Cabroilet for a couple years back in the late 80’s early 90’s. My wife said it was painted in “arrest me red” . Man what a ball to drive, never gave me a lick of trouble, and I ran the snot out of it every chance I got. Had speakers in the head rest’s , drop in a tape of ” Ride of the Valkerie” crank up the volume and hammer down.
I can only imagine what a four rotor engine put out and sounded like. Kudo’s to Mazda for leading the charge with innovation.