With such an astonishing variety of cars present at the 2016 instalment of the Leadfoot Festival, it was always going to be a tricky proposition selecting a couple for spotlights.
This was until the crisp twang of a ported rotary pulling as many revs as it could muster pierced the brief moment of still air between runs. Emerging hard on the brakes while setting up for the tight hairpin corner ahead was Aidan Barrett’s immaculately prepared, Group C inspired SA22C Mazda RX-7.
I had seen this car before, however at first glance I didn’t recognise the RX-7 wearing its clean new livery treatment. Previously the Mazda sported a livery resembling that of Allan Moffat’s 1981 Australian Touring Car Championship contender, but recently the guys made the call to switch the car to a new look, partly because theirs wasn’t the only Moffat tribute circulating the tracks of New Zealand.
Regardless, the simple livery works as an effective fusion of period and contemporary design cues.
Aidan’s RX-7 sports all the right aero protrusions you’d expect from a car inspired by the factory Group C machines, themselves derived from the IMSA SA22Cs being campaigned at the same time in the US. The prominent rear spoiler is so typical of the era too.
Another constant to the Group C theme are the wide fibreglass arches draped across hand-grooved 265-section Dunlop slicks. In the suspension department there’s custom Bilstein adjustable coilovers and a full course of rose-jointed arms and links.
What’s a rotary from down under without Simmons wheels? Contrary to the show car style of 18-inch and above, Aidan’s RX-7 is shod with 15-inch FR15 variants with widths of 9.5-inches at all four corners. Lurking behind the classic 5-spoke design are vented rotors gripped by 4-pot Wilwood calipers.
The fibreglass treatment doesn’t merely stop at the flared arches and spoiler combination, and in an effort to keep mass right down the Barrett’s have employed lightweight replacements for the doors, guards and the bonnet. Polycarbonate windows also contribute to a low kerb weight of around 940kg.
Spinning beneath the characteristically long nose of the Series 1 RX-7 is none other than a ported NA 13B rotary. In the Group C days, this was a controversial upgrade for the originally 12A-powered Moffat car, but nowadays it’s an almost default choice, based on the extra power, torque and parts availability versus the smaller rotary engine.
Built by renowned Kiwi rotary specialists Green Brothers Racing, Aidan’s 13B outputs 330hp thanks to peripheral porting and IDA-style throttle body injection controlled by a Link Fury engine management system.
The clean theme extends to the interior, which has also been stripped right back in the pursuit of weight saving. The original dash shell is retained, devoid of factory instrumentation and instead fitted with a simple pair of warning lamps and a couple of auxiliary gauges to monitor the essentials. Tactile items include a suede Sportline wheel and a beautifully machined billet alloy shifter to swap the cogs of the custom H-pattern 6-speed gearbox.
Finished in time for the Leadfoot Festival mere hours before the first car left the start line, Aidan managed to squeeze a 55-second run out of the RX-7 – a favourable result given the limited seat time with the new setup. With more seat time the car should pick up a few tenths or more, but for now the sights are set on a campaign on the circuits of New Zealand, perhaps taking on some of established competitors of the ‘all-comers’ GTRNZ championship.
I really like these purpose-built race cars so much, I can just imagine how balanced and agile this car would feel taking the apex or feeling the the power band of the NA 13B. And the style really grabs your attention.
There is such a rallycar in Slovakia, check out this video if you like the car above:
a group B tribute first series RX7.
@Adam B Thanks for the video, very cool car anymore details on it? Not a good idea watching it though as I really want to build a Group B RX-7 now....
Thanks to Richie for the great shots & words. Next outing will sort some video footage, left the GoPro at home for leadfoot whoops.
@lau80220 I see the resemblance!
@ChrisMcNamee I think it's quite OK in a period style build to want bolt/screw on flares, myself.
@Sarlaccsurvivor Pretty standard sort of power levels for a well built, PP'd 13B. Not bad right?
Finally! A nice 1st generation 7 on SH. Been waiting for something like this. Although it was beautiful, the JDM Legends version left much to be desired. Wish there was a little bit more elaboration on the engine and suspension, but all in all I'm really happy to see this here. Try finding one in the states now lol.
The craftsmanship is amazing! I really like these purpose-built race cars so much, I can just imagine how balanced and agile this car would feel taking the apex or feeling the the power band of the NA 13B. And the style really grabs your attention.
@JonathanW I just dont think I could stop at 330hp. Im assuming the owner has the funds to go for more if they wanted.
330bhp in less then a ton is going to shift, some people seem to think anything less than about 500bhp is slow, but you can bury pretty much any production road car with a setup like this...
@Smiggins @JonathanW With the plethora of incredible high HP cars that grace this publication it does seem "tame". However for the setup its impressive power & is more than enough to get me into trouble, plus have a tonne of fun with. Its a simple well balanced all round package & keeps it in line with its roots. I'm extremely happy with it & as a privateer the budget is very small & there is no more in the coffers
I thought this was the same rx7 I'd seen like, 12 years ago in NZPC but that one ran 10's and had steel group C fenders.
I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing on a car culture, but this is the first RX7 featured on SH with Simmons wheels that I've liked. and, my god, do I like this.
Yes! Finally another 1st gen rx7! Beautiful car and its good to see the appreciation as well. Im liking the step away from Classic Nissans (which i love ofcourse) to some other great import cars of the same era. (I.e. Sa22c, fb, 1st gen celicas, the mgb gt recently listed, aw11, rx3, maybe a triumph gt will hit the pages soon who knows) I dont know if this would be considered a "grassroots" type build as i dont know the history of this driver or his car but I always love reading the articles with affordable cars and modifications attached.
I feel they tend to bleed more passion, more history & a greater story between car and owner. Thank you Speedhunters!
@nisxmo I think it's a grassroots build - Aidan has a huge history with ownership of Mazda rotaries, this car is largely self prepared with the exception of the engine
In a sea of precious metal at Leadfoot this car stood out for its build quality and classy execution. What was cool though was to see the drivers young daughters cheering for dad and getting really wound up when dad fluffed a run! Nice work Ritchie - enjoying your content
@nustad Great team of people as well - I actually made the decision to do the spotlight after being approached while standing in the forest by some of the entourage, and thought "these guys are ok, let's run their car since it's cool also!"
@nustad Thanks for the positive feedback. Especially enjoy the comment regarding the little people. They certainly get into it which has me a little bit nervous what lies ahead...