When it comes to the Japanese domestic market there are a handful of legends, and rightly deserving legends at that. There’s the Nissan Skyline, the Honda NSX and the Toyota Supra, to name but three, and then there’s the black sheep. The one that trod a slightly different path, the one that did things a little differently – but by no means less spectacularly. We are of course talking about the Mazda RX-7 with its unique Wankel rotary engine, but more specifically the RX-7 Bathurst.
With not a rod or piston in sight the RX-7 still cemented itself among the greats thanks to that smooth, high-revving motor combined with its sporty looks and inherent drive-ability. Power peaked with the twin-turbo third gen model and its place in that top tier of the JDM hierarchy is perfectly justified. Unveiled in 1978 the RX-7 rear-wheel-drive coupé has been around for quite some time and began life with a carburettor-equipped rotary engine, later being offered with a fuel injected version as well as forced induction as time went on. Replacing the RX-3 the 7 was low, light and well-weighted thanks to the positioning of the engine behind the front axle.
1985 saw the release of the second generation RX-7 which borrowed design cues from the Porsche 924 and the somewhat squirmy live rear axle of its predecessor was updated to independent rear suspension. The 1.3-litre rotary engine still took pride of place under the car’s long, sweeping bonnet and was offered as either normally aspirated or turbocharged, the latter of which produced over 200bhp. The third incarnation, and arguably the most famous, appeared in 1991 and this is where things got exciting – from a performance perspective at least. The RX-7’s rotary engine was now equipped with not one, but two turbos providing boost at two different points in the rev range for a much more linear performance curve. The results were impressive to say the least and the third generation RX-7 has gained iconic status, not just in the JDM scene but in the automotive world as a whole.
There were various special editions of the RX-7 produced, one of which was the Type-R Bathurst, which is exactly what we have here. 1 of only 500 cars built to commemorate the Australian Bathurst 12-hour race where the RX-7 was victorious for three consecutive years from ’92 to ’94, the car was fitted with adjustable dampers and special fog lamps along with various interior updates including numerous carbon fibre trim pieces.
Produced solely for the Japanese market the Bathurst was based on the Type-R which was a high performance version of the standard car. The Bathurst produces 276bhp and has the highest power-to-weight ratio of any model in the range allowing it to get to 60mph from a standstill in under five seconds and on to a top speed of nearly 160mph. That’s impressive even today.
This particular 2003 Mazda RX-7 Type R Bathurst has recently been imported into the UK and has only covered a mere 54,000 miles. Not only that but its impressive service history shows a regular maintenance schedule from day one, something that is imperative for these cars and their unique engines. At forty grand it may seem expensive but just look at what has happened to prices of R32 Skyline GTRs over the past few years. We’re beginning to see the same thing with RX7s, especially such rare models as this Bathurst R and ones that are in such lovely, cherished condition. The RX-7 is one of the true greats of the performance JDM world and this beauty is at the tip of that rather pointy spear.