1984 Group C Mazda RX7

Final evolution of the Group C RX7.
Period and current race history of note.
Fresh mechanicals.
Logbook, COD done and ready to race.
Easy swap to Group 2 configuration.
****$139K AUD**** ONO

The Berklee Group C Mazda RX7


You know the old saying, that there’s no saint, like a reformed sinner?

Well, that’s me and the SA22C Group 2 RX7, so please excuse the blatant bias and romantic tones that will likely accompany this piece.

I was born into an unabashed Vee 8 / Boxer 6 family, who recalls being horrified by the banshee like shrieks of the Peripheral Ported RX7, at those early 1980’s race meets they raced and occasionally dominated at. Yet in 2009, my motorsport life was put on its ear, when I drove our beloved Tokico RX7 around Lakeside for the first time. On cold, old tyres and sincerely wishing I had put in ear plugs, I found myself at the 1st corner, the Kauressel, and I was gobsmacked at the turn-in on this “old” Group C RX7. Not coincidentally, it was around that time, that I realised my V8 obsession and its emphasis on “straight line handling”, was perhaps a bit misguided...

Being wrong, is one of life’s greatest gifts.

My relationship with the RX7 has blossomed from that point onwards and I still marvel at the global accolades this Sports Car, that occasionally masquerades as a Touring Car, has accumulated over the last 40 years.

The RX7 was put into production in 1978, with Toyo Kogyo, Mazda’s parent company, making sure everyone at the global launch knew it was there to win races, with a beautifully turned out Group 2 car, sporting a very 1970’s flare kit and tartan seats, located in a prominent position. Mazda took a big gamble with the RX7 program, being a unique, rotary only design and it knew motorsport was going to prove it a winner… and it did!

It was great that Mazda went to the trouble of developing and homologating the Group 2 RX7, which covered the ETCC, IMSA GTU, GTX and eventually Australia’s variant, Group C Touring Cars in the ATCC. However, the world’s motoring media gave the road-going RX7 such a positive, if not glowing, wrap, that the supporting motorsport program could have been deemed superfluous. I guess that is why Mazda won Le Mans against such fierce competition: they love racing and are prepared to go that extra mile.

The Mazda RX7 in all its international guises, raced and won, either outright, or its class, in the following events and national series:

  • Daytona 24Hr
  • Sebring 12Hr
  • Silverstone RAC TT
  • Le Mans 24Hr (Ok, this is an embellishment, but at least it finished!)
  • Bathurst 1000
  • Suzuka 1000
  • Mt Fuji 1000
  • Spa 24Hr
  • Australia Touring Car Championship (ATCC)
  • IMSA GTU, GTO and GTX (Still the most winning chassis in IMSA history).
  • British Touring Car Championship (BTCC)
  • European Touring Car Championship (ETCC)

Not wanting to take away from the efforts of the many brilliant teams, who orchestrated these significant victories, but the platform they were working with, is a huge key to the 1st Gen’ RX7’s success:

  • Lightweight with a homologated weight of 925Kg, yet rigid.
  • Low centre of gravity.
  • Very aerodynamic for a “touring car”.
  • Front “mid mount” engine placement.
  • 51 / 49% weight distribution front to rear from the factory.  
  • The rotary engine, in both 12a and 13b guise, is an excellent race engine.

Another contributing factor is Mazda following Porsche’s successful privateer motorsport program, in releasing its 1980 “Mazda RX7 Competition Preparation and Service Manual” and having all of the factory race bits, titled “Mazda Factory Race” (MFR) with their own unique part numbers, available to all customers. You could buy a MFR prepared body shell, then fill her up with all the MFR goodies your wallet, or sponsors wallet, could handle. This literature and these MFR parts, have made owning a RX7 for Historic Motorsport a relatively painless ordeal.   

Regarding Historic Motorsport, I have campaigned a Gp 2 / C RX7 for a few seasons now and can attest to their reliability, especially if you have a “rotorhead” or two nearby. These engines are quirky, with an addictive power delivery much like a 2 stroke motorbike. The real bonus is that they are up for nearly any abuse and rarely let go with a bang. You can expect two seasons at 10K rpm from a reputable engine builder. The entire drivetrain is very strong, with only the homologated gearbox and diff ratios wearing out, proving to be an issue, as the MFR gear sets are now NLA. Courtesy of the S1 Mazda MX5 (You know, the cute one.) using similar components, outfits like Quaife in the UK stock a near identical synchromesh gear set though. Being a light car with 50/50 weight distribution, tyre wear is minimal, with good stocks of the 16” x 10” tyres available in Bias ply and radial from Goodyear, AVON, Dunlop and more.

The "Berklee" Group C RX7 we have for sale here, is a car that has campaigned from 1983 to present, with a good and known history chain. It was built by Ken Hastings in Melbourne, but was campaigned by Les and David Grose from Queensland’s Gold Coast. It was also driven by David Cox and Sports Sedans legend Chris Clearihan. The car started at the 1983 and 84 Bathurst 1000, along with Calder Park, Sandown, Oran Park, Surfers Paradise Internationa Raceway, Lakeside International Raceway and Adelaide International Raceway.

Throughout the two years it raced in Group C, it ran the same livery of a white top with yellow lower section, with major sponsor “Berklee Exhausts”, an exhaust manufacturer  that still runs to this day. The minor sponsors varied over the years. In 1985 the car was sold to Mr Stephen Swain of Tasmania, where it raced in their street class, until purchased by Mr John Douglas, who eventually restored the car back to Group C specs and after a few attempts, won the 2014 Australian Group C Championship, with his Morgan Park raceway lap record from 2014 still standing to this day, proving the pace of the Berklee RX7.

Check out this for some recent Berklee RX7 FUN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o7coscqOnM

Mr Douglas sold the RX7 to the current owner, who has spent a considerable sum getting the car up to a high mechanical standard, however the last 10+ years of hard racing are showing and the cosmetics are a bit tired. Let’s just say, she looks very authentic and the patina freaks would love her. The car is quite fresh in the driveline, having had the engine rebuilt in April 2018 and gearbox refreshed in September 2018. She comes with her original CAMS logbooks (Green) and her current CAMS Historic Group C log-book and CoD (Aussie variant of HTP papers) and is ready to race at the front of Group C again. The new owner has taken a massive leap backwards and is restoring a 1984 spec’ Group C Commodore, so the RX7 has to go. She has been priced to factor in the cosmetic issues, so please come buy her, get a race in for 2019 and maybe take on the 2020 Group C Championship?   

Feel free to share the Mazda RX7 love :)