Mazda has a history deeply entrenched in auto racing and as many of you know they have always been fond of the rotary engine. Although I’ve never actually owned a Mazda it’s no secret that I’ve had a crush on the rotary engine since I was about twelve. The rotary engine was spawned out of a brilliant stroke of innovation. I shan’t go into detail (I’ll save that for another post) but I will share with you the greatest rotary car ever built.
The legendary Mazda 787B racecar is the pinnacle of rotary performance. It was introduced to the world in 1990 as their entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The second year for this race car was marked by a victory for the 24 hour race. This is the ONLY car to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans without a reciprocating engine and to this day Mazda is the ONLY Japanese auto maker to win the race. What’s interesting (albeit ironic) is that the 787B didn’t have the fastest lap times of the fleet. It was the enduring reliability of the rotary engine that brought home the win for team Mazda.
What’s so revolutionary about the 787B is it’s 2.6 liter rotary engine. Although small, this engine packs an incredible punch. Most production Mazda’s that came with a rotary engine had a 1.3 liter two rotor variant of some kind with the Eunos Cosmos being the only 2.0 liter 3 rotor that I’m aware of. The 4 rotor in the 787B was nothing short of a masterpiece and it showed with outstanding results. There was one slight problem though. Auto racing is a bit quirky in the fact that when you utterly demolish your competition using some form of innovation witchcraft it’s generally frowned upon. This was also the case in 1991 when the rotary engine was banned from racing. Now all we have to remember it by is a few great sportscars and the sound of angels leaving an exhaust pipe. Enjoy!