In 1978 the
first generation 12A powered RX-7 took the world by storm,
exceeding production expectations and causing traffic jams at
the dealerships. The rotary engine had found its
true home and Mazda had found the heart of the sports car lover. The RX-7 achieved immediate success with “Car of the Year” awards across the globe and major racing victories at events such as SPA and Daytona.
The RX-7 made its own
name on the Australian circuit with victory in the Australian touring car
championships of 1983 and 84. A 2nd outright at the 1983 Bathurst 1000 during
the height of the V8 era proved just how formidable the rotary could be, giving
cause to the many traditional racers changing their V8 cars for rotary power.
Ever since the first
shipment of (10A) R-100 coupes back in 1969, Australian enthusiasts have
been in love with this remarkable engine and the cars they have powered.
The (12A) RX-2 achieved a ‘giant killer’ reputation at a time when the V8 was unchallenged on Australian roads. The (12A) RX-3 followed, proving very popular both on and off the race track. One of many racing at that time caused more than a worried look after placing fifth outright in the 1975 Bathurst 1000. A new level of refinement was created with the (13B) RX-4 and virtually no other car could match its performance and luxury package at the same price. In 1976, the (13B) RX-5 gave Australians an even newer level of luxury in a coupe with performance to match its looks.
A new fuel injected
6 port version of the race proven 13B rotary became standard
equipment for the second generation or series IV RX-7 of 1986.
Moving up market to become a more civilised sports car, the 13B rotary was given a turbo option boasting 137 kW by employing a newly developed twin scroll turbocharger to take full advantage
of the engine’s strong exhaust pulsing. The turbo was obviously the production ‘rocket’ factory had intended it to be and was now competing against the established marquees on the world market. The RX-7 was voted “The sports car to own for the
everyday driver” by much of the world’s motoring press. Refining an already excellent product, the 1989 RX-7 kept Mazda ahead of the pack of ever emerging sports cars. With 146 Kw on tap from
the totally re-developed 13B turbo engine, RX-7 sales again surged ahead of the field. Notable publicity from local Mazda racer Gary Waldon winning numerous production car titles fulfilled the ‘win on Sunday sell on Monday’ cliche.
the third generation RX-7,Mazda’s engineers knew what they
wanted – a no compromise sports car that could take on the world
and win. To achieve this the world’s best engine had to be made
better. A 20 per cent jump in power from the series V RX-7
engine to 176 kW with a weight reduction to 1310 kg had the new
series VI RX-7 establish itself as the up market leader. The world’s best selling sports car had now become the best ‘value for money’ sports car. Mazda chose to race the RX-7 from 1992
until 1995 under production car rules winning the prestigious Bathurst 12 hour endurance race each time whilst toppling big buck challenges from various Porsche models and other marquees.
Recently a demonstration of the RX-7’s rotary power and amazingly smooth aerodynamics where shown when a three rotor 13G powered version tamed the 1000 hp under its bonnet to set a new
class speed record of just under 400kmh on the salt flats of Utah U.S.A.The twin turbo 13B
engine in the series VII version RX-7 was then improved yet again. With power output now standing at 194 kW, it gave unprecedented performance coupled with the ultra smooth power
delivery that makes the rotary engine legendary. Mazda wouldn’t have it any other way.
In 1991 Mazda
achieved arguably the ultimate accolade for the rotary engine,
victory at the Le Mans 24 Hour. It was a first for a Japanese
car manufacturer and a first for the rotary engine. The Mazda
787B prototype sports car took on the world’s best for 24
grueling hours to finish all three entered cars in 1st, 6th and
8th position. Producing over 700 hp the R26B quad rotor engine
was peripherally ported and incorporated steeples variable
induction plus three plugs per rotor (instead of the usual two).It is through the severity of racing in events such as these that the current generation rotary engine has evolved.
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