Almost 35 years ago, the 1982 Mazda 254i Le Mans racer disappeared.
The car, based on the RX-7 of the time, was one of two designed and entered in the legendary 24 hour endurance race. After a poor result there, it was thought that the company scrapped both cars in shame. But, against all odds, one 254i has been unearthed.
See, the 254i wasn’t immediately done away with—it just kind of faded from public view. After an unfortunate Le Mans showing that saw a disappointing DNF, Mazda took their cars back home to compete in the JPSC series, according to japanesenostalgiccar.com. One car was painted pink. The other car was painted yellow. One was destroyed in a crash. The other was never seen again after the 1984 Fuji 1000km.
At least, until now. Late in 2018, the pink car—the former No. 83 that competed in Le Mans—was discovered in one of Japan’s remote western prefectures.
The chief mechanic at Mazdaspeed at the time, a fellow named Tachimoto-san, was able to confirm that the car was legit after checking out its brake system and rear suspension.
An even more detailed inspection revealed that, under its new layer of white paint, there are layers of pink and gold paint—the two colors the car competed with in Le Mans and JPSC.
The car has been commissioned by Mazda to undergo a restoration, according to bestcarweb.jp. The hope is to keep the car as original as possible and, possibly, to enter it in some classic car competitions.
It’s always awesome when an old racer is dug up and destined to be refit for its second life, but I’m particularly excited about this one. The 252i might be less popular than its race-winning counterpart, the 787B but it’s a hell of an interesting piece of machinery. Good on Mazda for shedding some light on it.