Gooding & Company is parading a trio of unique racing-oriented machines across the block at this year’s Amelia Island auction on March 10, including a pair of rare Porsche 911s and a Mazda with Le Mans history. And no, before you potentially soil yourself, we must inform you that it’s not that Mazda, but it is probably about as close as a wealthy mortal is likely to get to owning the vaunted 787B.
1989 Mazda 767B
In 1970, a Mazda-powered Chevron B16 became the first rotary-engined car to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although it was entirely overshadowed by the Porsche/Ferrari war that saw Louise Piëch’s Porsche Salzburg team win the storied endurance race and hand Zuffenhausen its first overall victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The unsuccessful Chevron/Mazda was nevertheless the first step in a sometimes sporadic 21-year campaign that would culminate in the first—and, to date, only—overall victory by a Japanese company in the race. And if the 787B that won Le Mans in 1991 is the rotary prototype that even casual racing fans remember, the 1989 767B is certainly notable as its forefather.
This particular car was the third example built, and it was first raced at Le Mans by Yojiro Terada, Marc Duez, and Volker Weidler. It finished third in the three-car, all-Mazda GTP class and 12th overall that year. In 1990, the car won the GTP class, piloted this time by an all-Japanese team consisting of Terada, Takashi Yorino, and Yoshimi Katayama, although its overall placement was down to 20th.
Following its retirement by Mazda after the 1990 Fuji 1000 kilometer race, the car ultimately fell into German hands, and it recently underwent restoration. During the process, the car’s 1989 Le Mans bodywork was acquired and is included in the sale, as are a number of spare gearboxes and 13J four-rotor engines. Since restoration to its 1990 specification, the car has run at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, and with its pedigree, distinctive orange/green argyle livery, and gobsmacking rotary wail, we’d assume this 767B would be welcome at any vintage event it cares to show up to. Really, what kind of animal do you have to be to turn away an argyle Wankel? Gooding estimates you’ll need between 1.8 and 2.4 million dollars to take it home.
1977 Porsche 934.5
The Porsche 911 began life with a 2.0-liter flat-six, which by the mid-1970s had been punched out to 3.0 liters in competition and homologation trim. In search of more power, and having learned a few things about turbochargers from its all-conquering Can-Am program earlier in the decade, Porsche decided to contest the FIA’s Group 4 and Group 5 classes with turbine-boosted 911s and built a road car to homologate them. Enter the vaunted 930, a.k.a. the 911 Turbo. If the 2.7 RS of 1973 could be seen as the father of the GT3, the 930 handed its woolly spirit down to the GT2 as the Turbo evolved from a bruiser of egos and batterer of bones into the 911 of choice for the podiatrist-and-barrister set. The 935 set the world aflame, winning Le Mans and Daytona outright, dominating IMSA’s Camel GT series in the 1970s and early 1980s, and spawning purpose-built factory specials like the small-displacement “Baby” and the outlandish 935/78 “Moby Dick.” The 934? The less bonkers Group 4 911 Turbo is beloved by Porsche nerds, partially just because it’s not part of the Flachbau horde. And because it looks great in orange Jägermeister livery.
But the 934 wasn’t enough for American racers. Designed for the 1977 IMSA series, the 934.5 featured a blend of 934 and 935 bits. Making in the neighborhood of 600 horsepower, only 10 of the cars were built, and only this car that’s set to cross Gooding’s block at Amelia Island was constructed with Group 4–legal bodywork, since it was meant for racing in Europe rather than America. This 934.5 won its class at the 1979 Salzburgring DRM, as well as that year’s Nürburgring ADAC 1000. After that, it was run by Bruce Spicer in Australia, where driver John Latham managed to win the 1981 Australian Sports Car Championship in it. Since its time Down Under, the car has been restored to its 1979 Hugo Boss livery. Care to join in the fun at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion? Gooding says you’ll shell out between 1.4 and 1.6 million dollars if your goal is to do it in this particular 934.
1993 Porsche 964 Carrera 3.8 RSR
Some have complained that Porsche’s current 911 RSR has jumped the proverbial hai, what with its mid-engine placement distancing the car from its rear-engined roots, making it more six-pot 718 than proper Neunelfer. But it seems as if the next best thing to driving a 911 is complaining about 911s. The late-’80s/early-’90s 964 was notoriously derided—until people figured out a few years ago that 964s are actually pretty fantastic automobiles. In retrospect, this ’93 Rennsport Rennwagen ticks plenty of purist boxes. It’s air-cooled, the 3.8-liter engine is in the rear, the body shell traces its lineage directly to Butzi Porsche’s original 901 design, and—unlike most genuine RSRs—this example has seen the majority of its miles accrued on public roads.
Purchased by a Japanese character who managed to get the decidedly competition-oriented RSR registered for the street, the car has never been raced, crashed, or restored, according to Gooding, and its odometer registers only 4000 kilometers. We never thought we’d see the day that a 964 went for over a million bucks, but Gooding assures us that that day is here, estimating the car’s sale price at 1.2 to 1.4 million dollars. Suddenly, 996s are starting to look pretty good.