What are the classic cars that will inspire the younger generation of car enthusiasts to carry on the restoration hobby? You already know the answer but if any additional validation was needed, Hagerty Insurance’s Barn Find Hunter video series reaffirms it: Japanese steel in the form of Mazda rotaries and early Nissan Z-Cars.
In the latest 25-minute episode, host Tom Cotter heads down to the Atlanta, Georgia area to check out a couple of J-tin collections. The first is Downing Performance, home of Jim Downing, five-time IMSA champion Mazda racer. Downing was instrumental in introducing Mazda to US audiences thanks to his campaigning of rotary race cars, starting with the recently restored Gatorade RX-3, the first Mazda factory effort in America.
Downing’s collection ranges from RX-3s to an FC3S RX-7 from the Inter-American Challenge series to a 1967 Cosmo Sport. In the shop, undergoing restoration, is also the third four-rotor RX-792P racer that was never officially finished. Downing is also the co-inventor of the HANS safety device, and sells them at his shop.
The episode then goes to Resurrection Classics, a Z-Car shop stocked full of S30 parts and parts cars. Run by two college students, the shop has everything from Series 1 240Zs to S130s all waiting for restoration and/or modification.
Downing reveals his father was into 1938 Cords, and when he got into cars it was behind the wheel of British roadsters like the MG TC and Lotus 7. Now, the torch is being passed on to those who grew up on RX-7s and Zs, and the episode concludes that these are the future classics for the next generation.