GRR

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

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