Exactly how it got there is a little inexplicable. But in fact a Mazda RX-7 once made it onto the podium of a World Rally Championship round, in 1985 at the Acropolis. Whereas Ingvar Carlsson and co-driver Benny Melander were on the podium; the rally with its 808 kilometres of special stages exclusively on gravel was won by Salonen/Harjanne on a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 ahead of Blomqvist/Cederberg on an Audi Quattro Sport. This to illustrate that the opponents of the Mazda were no nose-pickers, just: Group B.
How and above all why Mazda Racing Team Europe (MRTE) came up with the idea of turning a first-generation RX-7 (in this case: 3rd series FB2) into a Group B car is somewhat unclear. Sure, PR for the Wankel engine, but in 1985 the RX-7 had just 115 hp. And a front engine with rear-wheel drive and a rigid axle. Not exactly the best prerequisites for rally success, especially not in Group B. A team led by Achim Warmbold tried it anyway, as they only needed 20 Evo cars, so something could be done.
And something was done. While the second generation of the RX-7 (FC3S) was already on the market in Japan in 1985 and produced a respectable 185 hp with a turbo, MRTE had to make do with the familiar, naturally aspirated 13B Wankel. In race trim, however, 300 hp at 8500 rpm was coaxed out of it, and maximum torque rose to 270 Nm at 7500 rpm. Instead of 1050 kilos, the Evo weighed 960 kilos. The Evo kit was also to be offered for the well-behaved RX-7, of which 471,000 had been delivered.
There were no 20 Evo cars, only 7. And at many races the Group B Wankels were not used, because before the homologation was finished, Group B had already been abolished. The car we are showing here, MRTE 019, was therefore never used, but stood in a show room in Switzerland for a long time, and at some point came to the collector David Sutton, who then also put the stickers in the right places. In 2017, RM Sotheby’s wanted to auction MRTE 019, but found no buyer.
We still have a small picture book on the Group B cars, here. There you will also find links to other units from this golden era. And apart from that, there is always the archive.
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