Rotary All The Things – James Kennedys Rally Inspired RX-7

Attention to detail is such an important aspect to any build but what James has done goes way beyond the ‘typical’ build.

Let’s start with that epic 80’s livery inspired by Mazda’s glory days with win after win during 1980-86’ in this very model of RX-7, collecting trophies for the likes of TWR at the British Touring Car Championship at the hands of Win Percy back to back in both 1980 & 1981.

Even across the pond it was winning its class in the MSA GTU a North American racing series which was based on production cars the general public could purchase. They entered two cars for the season and walked away with constructor’s championship with three races remaining, it was this that sparked James’ creative juices and created a leaping point for this retro inspired build.

He already owned a clean original RX-7 fb same shape as this one but couldn’t bring himself to take a “standard” car and rip it to pieces to create something like you see here today, so with a heavy heart he sold his cherished stock example and started the hunt for one that needed some ‘TLC’ that he could then get stuck into. This very car was what he found, however it was far from the awesome motorsport inspired track car you see here today, no, it was more that of a Max Power Era reject. Think a big spoiler (from a RX-7 fd), huge subwoofer in the boot, 18” rims and many, many blue LED’s. It was err quite something. Even now James is still tackling some of the ‘mods’ that were too stubborn to leave.

So, what are we looking at? Well starting from the outside the livery was created and applied by the team at Totally Dynamic he went them with lots of images and ideas and together they created and applied the livery, it was exactly what James had envisaged. I think you’ll agree it suits the shape of this car down to a tee. The front wheels are SSR XR4 longchamps and the rears are SSR Racing Jiba’s they’re period to the cars era, the rear wing comes from the Elford Turbo model but the rear bumper threw me a little, with its aftermarket rear fog light (typical to that of a jap import) I presumed it was a JDM model but no, James explained that shortly after finishing the car he was involved in a minor crash on a motorway when a car went in to the back of him and yeah ‘crunch’, so he felt it was a good chance to complete the Jap look, he gathered up the broken bumper and had it modified to resemble the JDM one he then sourced  a ‘grey’ import bolt on fog light – it just looks right!

Moving onto the interior or there lack of, with it being inspired by a track car and track cars don’t have much in the way of creature comforts this follows suit, this does however make the car ‘pretty noisy’ James remarks, so perhaps in the future some plans for an interior make over might be in order. That said, it is equipped with electric windows but that’s it really haha but hell who needs air-con right? Form over function… saying that James did look a little warm after his hour drive to our shoot location. The door straps are a nice touch too, practical and lightweight, plus uber points for that ‘coz track car’ look!

The engine is of course a wankel but this one’s from the RX-4, ts a 13B four port producing in and around 200bhp and its been bridge ported (carried out by Era de Klerk from Oldone’s) and has a Weber S1 Ida carb.. The car has a very distinct off beat sound more alike that of a muscle car, it burbles and grumbles to itself on tick over, I really like that, its far from the noise I expected in the best possible way!


James isn’t just the guy that writes the cheques though, he’s also quite happy to get stuck in, he did all the hard ‘wrenching’ himself.  This involved taking the original engine out then sourcing the RX-4 replacement engine, before retro fitting it within the RX-7 engine bay. He’d never done it before but enjoyed the kinda ‘how hard can it be’ attitude to the whole thing and just picked up things along the way.

Electrically the car was a nightmare, the original owner had installed crazy over the top wiring that was riddled throughout the car, with an aftermarket alarm and immobiliser being the bane of James’ life as he ripped it out!

So, what’s next for James’ ’85 Mazda?
Well as mentioned, a little more refinement for the interior to make those long drives a little more bearable, oh and a full engine bay tidy up is on the cards too. He’d really like it to look as clean and precise as the exterior, perhaps hide all the wiring and perform a good overall clean up to give it that wow factor. Not that it struggles to win people over as stuck happily to the driver’s side rear quarter window is a sticker that states the car was a winner at last years Players Classic show, its also been a winner at Retro Rides where it picked up the 2016 ‘Racer’ award ad Mr OhSoRetro himself even presented an award to James at 2017’s Classics United – high praise!

James has also taken style points from the team over at Hoonigan Racing Division, with builds such as there recently deceased Escort Cosworth that Ken Block sadly burnt to a crisp earlier this year oh and Magnus Walker too, his motto of ‘Get Out and Drive’ has struck home with James and he states he’d rather spend money on a tank of fuel than a spur of the moment ‘mod’ purchase any day of the week.

James would like to thank some people that helped along the way with his car, such as ‘The Exile Boys’ Era, Chuddy & Matt along with Tool & Dave.

Oh and a special thanks to his ever understanding wife for being so supportive whilst he spent hour upon hour working away in the garage!

Words & Photography by Nick Simmo Photographer

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