Over the past few days, I’ve been finishing up our Mazda-themed editorials with photos from the race car dungeon underneath the Mazda R&D facility. The main reason I wanted to go to the facility in the first place was to shoot this particular car. As pretty much everyone who has read Speedhunters can tell, I’m a die hard Toyota enthusiast. However, I do hold RX7s in high regard. I just love the design and historic lineage of the cars – it’s really something I could get into if I still owned an RX7. Cars like rear wheel drive Corollas, Skylines, and RX7s fascinate me with the subtle design changes from year to year, and the rich racing heritage that these makes of cars have.
The first time I ever laid my eyes on this SA22C, I was at a Sevenstock event at Mazda with Calvin Wan, because his FD was in the show. Sitting quietly in the courtyard of the R&D building was this works flared SA22C RX7. This was definitely my favorite car in the whole show! This first generation RX7 actually competed in the IMSA series, driven by none other than John Morton, the same guy who made the BRE Datsun 510s famous in the SCCA Trans Am 2.5 liter Challenge.
The retro racing livery on this car look nothing short of outstanding, and the color combo of cream, avocado green, and pine green is just amazing. I think this car looks so awesome – historic and stylish.
This RX7 is a true SA22C, right hand drive race car. Have a peek at the steering wheel – it’s on the right side, with an aluminum fabricated dashboard covered in flat black paint replacing the OEM one, with old school analog mechanical gauges custom mounted to the aluminum paneling.
Even though this RX7 has original period correct seats that are normally mounted inside the car, during the time of my photo shoot, there was a modern Sparco racing seat inside the car, since it was still in the same state as it was when it had been driven last – at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Here’s a shot of the super clean engine bay, with the built up 12A rotary engine. I was more than a little disappointed to see that the strut towers had been drilled to mount a set of universal Ground Control-type camber plates, which are not only period incorrect, but now the cleanliness and originality of the OEM strut towers has been modified. Sad, but you have to remember… back in the days that this car was racing, you couldn’t just go to your local car shop and buy a set of pre-fitted Cusco camber plates.
On a positive note, I really, really liked the blue custom airbox and intake system. It showed some ingenuity and originality, with nice craftsmanship. It looks hand made and one-off. Very cool in my opinion.
Taking a closer look at the airbox, I popped open the latch to peek at the filter inside. It appears to have a K&N universal drop in unit, which has been custom mounted inside the airbox using some very simple brackets attached to the blue painted metal. I think this is super cool – it shows some creativity, and gives an idea of how a person could fabricate a cold air intake box, even if a pre-manufactured part isn’t available for their car. Cool!
As I was shooting pics of this RX7, our hosts from Mazda asked me if I had taken a look at the VIN number of this car. They said it was the 7th RX7 to be built! No way… let me see… well, here’s the VIN! Well it appears that this car would be either the seventh RX7 built, or the one million and seventh. I’m guessing the information given to me was correct, and it’s the 7th SA22C ever! So cool! I wish I owned the 86th AE86 to be produced from the factory…
Just look at the cool rear wing, the works fender flares, and the metal gas cap that leads to a trunk mounted fuel cell. This SA22C is soooooo cool!
I know it’s super tall. So do the guys at Mazda. However, the car had to be raised to this height in order to have it safely shipped on the car transporter on the way back from the racetrack. Since that time, the R&D guys hadn’t re-lowered the car, as they had some other pressing matters to attend to, which took a slightly higher priority than restoring the ride height of this SA22C. Regardless, I was extremely happy to have seen this SA22C again, and am grateful to our friends at Mazda for taking the time out to give me the tour of this incredible storage facility, and allowing me to shoot the cars sitting in the “dungeon.” Also, many thanks to my friends at Japanese Nostalgic Car Magazine for coordinating this shoot for us!