Mazda’s quad-rotor racing engine is the stuff of legend. It propelled the 787B to a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans proved Mazda’s rotary engine in the crucible of motorsport. Mazda only ever put triple-rotor engines in road cars, but if you’d like a chance to own a genuine 4-rotor beast, a Mazda RX-792P just popped up for sale in Atlanta, Georgia.
After the 787B’s fairy tale victory at the 1991 running of Le Mans, Mazda didn’t think the rotary engine would end with it. Mazda had seized victory just before long-forecasted rule changes went into effect, the last year a rotary would’ve been eligible. Mazda fully planned to continue rotary development, as the FD RX-7 and RX-8 had yet to emerge, but those pesky rules meant it had to target a new venue outside of Europe.
Setting its sights on IMSA in the US, an all-new chassis was developed to plop the 4-rotor R26B into. That car became the Mazda RX-792P, the name derived from combining the “RX-7” from the road car, the year it would race (1992) and “P” for the IMSA GTP prototype class. Only three of these cars were ever built, two of which raced under No.77 and No.78.
Unfortunately, the car wasn’t very successful. Despite a body a carbon fiber tub and body the power-to-weight ratio wasn’t where it needed to be in order to compete with the likes of Toyota, Nissan, and Porsche. Ever the underdog, Mazda seemed destined to fail right from the outset. Dick St. Yves, then manager of Mazda Motorsports, was once quoted as saying, “I have been told that Toyota’s budget was $20,000,000 and Nissan was in the area of $35,000,000. Our budget was $5,000,000.”
The RX-792P ran for one season before Mazda pulled the plug on the quad-rotor program. The best win for the RX-792P was logged by the No.77 car at Round 8, Watkins Glen, where it achieved second place behind a Toyota Eagle Mk3. That car is now part of Mazda North America’s collection, where it’s maintained and occasionally brought out for a thrilling demonstration lap or two. The footage above is from last year’s Long Beach Grand Prix, and it cooks.
The third car, RX792P003, never raced. Jim Downing, one of the first American drivers to adopt the rotary engine in the 1970s, acquired it a few years ago but few details of the car’s history are nonexistent in the ad on Race Cars Direct. What is included is the fact that Jim has personally conducted a few shakedown laps at Road Atlanta and believes that the car is “ready to race”. Also the price, which is $1,500,000. It ain’t cheap, but Mazda quad-rotors are few and far between, so this might just be the only way to get a version of this legendary engine.