Video: Behind the wheel of the screaming Mazda 767B

25th January 2019
Seán Ward

What does a 600bhp rotary engine sound like? As you can imagine, it’s rather loud.

Mazda introduced the 767 for the 1988 season, replacing the 757. The 767’s Le Mans debut failed to bring a fairytale result, the two 767s finishing in 17th and 19th positions behind an older 757 in 15th . For 1989 the 767 evolved into the 767B, and while the car’s pace improved and Mazda were able to finish in 7th and 9th at Le Mans that year, Mazda still couldn’t conquer the world’s toughest endurance race.

Mazda had to wait until 1991 for its first Le Mans win, with Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot behind the wheel of a 787B, the 767’s replacement. Could the 767 be branded as a failure, then? No, absolutely not. Without the 767 and 767B Mazda wouldn’t have been able to refine the rotary recipe and go on to become the first Japanese manufacturer to finish on top at Le Mans. Perhaps more importantly for rotary-engined road car fans, racing technology trickles down to the cars we see in showrooms, and without Mazda’s determination to make the 757, 767 and 787 work we might never have seen cars like the RX-7 or RX-8. 

As for the 767B you’re listening to here, driven by American racer Jonathan Bomarito, it isn’t being pushed particularly hard (understandably so, given the car’s £1.5-£2 million value) and the gear ratios are all wrong for Laguna Seca, but the sound is something to savour. Rotary engines aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but it’s still very much worth watching.

Goodwood image by Nick Dungan.

  • Video

  • Mazda

  • Le Mans

  • 767B



Video: Behind the wheel of the screaming Mazda 767B

25th January 2019



Video: Sixth to second at Laguna Seca in screaming 767B

22nd August 2017


Festival of Speed

Video: Mazda 787B leads parade of rotary Mazda racers

11th July 2020



Video: The seven craziest Le Mans cars

27th August 2021



Video: Rebuilding the Mazda 787B Le Mans-winner

30th April 2018



Video: The Mazda 787B sings at Le Mans

01st September 2022



The five greatest Mazda race cars of all time

03rd October 2019


Festival of Speed

Video: Valentino Rossi drives wailing Mazda 787B Le Mans winner

26th June 2020