The only 1982 Mazda 254i Le Mans race car in existence has been discovered nearly 35 years after disappearing from public view.
Mazda entered the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours with a pair of 254i racers. The vehicles didn’t have particularly impressive performances and it was thought that the 254i in question was scrapped.
However, Japanese Nostalgic Car reports that the duo were shipped back to Japan and competed in a number of races on the JPSC series. The recently-discovered example had its identity disguised by a pink paint job, while the second 254i was painted yellow and later destroyed during an accident at a Fuji Speedway race.
Late last year, the pink car was discovered in one of Japan’s remote western prefectures and had its identity verified by Mr. Tachimoto, the chief mechanic at Mazdaspeed at the time. Tachimoto-san confirmed the vehicle’s identity by looking at its brake system and rear suspension and revealed that Mazdaspeed built the car around the chassis of the older 253i.
A detailed inspection showed that underneath its white paint, it has layers of both gold and pink paints and is indeed the only 254i known to exist. It was painted in a black and gold Jun Livery before turning pink to compete in the JSPC championship.
Isami Amemiya from Japanese tuning house RE Amemiya recently oversaw the transportation of the vehicle to a specialty shop dubbed Powercraft. While there, the car will undergo a restoration at the request of Mazda and according to Motorious, it could eventually return to competition in classic racing events.
The 254i used a dual-rotor 13B engine delivering approximately 296 hp. It’s unclear if the car was discovered with its original engine, but RE Amemiya will reportedly oversee the construction of a new powertrain.