Trib­ute to a Leg­end

NZ Performance Car - - Construction Under -

There are some ab­so­lutely in­sane pieces of rac­ing his­tory tucked away in Kiwi work­shops and garages, but get­ting your hands on a gen­uine Katayama RX-3 is damn near im­pos­si­ble here — or abroad, for that mat­ter. So Wade Hen­shaw de­cided that he would sim­ply build his own, based on the Ja­panese Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship (JTCC) ’76 win­ner — un­der­tak­ing an al­most 20-year labour of love to col­lect the parts re­quired.

That would firstly see a Mazda Fac­tory Race (MFR) 13B pe­riph­eral-port ( PP) with flat side me­chan­i­cal in­jec­tion packed into the bay and af­ter run­ning a sim­i­lar set-up in his RX-7 S1, which pumps out 276kW, Wade has de­vel­oped his own bil­let al­loy plates — just to en­sure his de­sire to push 291kW out of the PP can be achieved. With a curb weight of just 700kg, that would make for an epic power-to-weight ra­tio. That power would chew through apex seals; hell, even mo­tors with half the power often man­age that. So, the metal seals have been binned, on the ad­vice of Wade’s USbased friend Car­los Lopez — who won a Day­tona race in a ro­tary-pow­ered Mazda — and ce­ramic re­place­ments fit­ted. Those in the know will know how crème de la crème that is, apart from any­thing else!

Stick­ing with the Katayama dream, Wade has not only sourced the same type of sand-cast MFR dog­leg first 1:1 four-speed found in­side the gen­uine ar­ti­cle but has also got a five-speed vari­ant that would later be found in the car af­ter the win — and Wade plans to use it — which would then send drive down to yet an­other MFR piece, the float­ing diff, fit­ted with a Watt’s link­age and coilovers for sta­bi­liza­tion.

What would a Katayama RX-3 be with­out the iconic look of huge bub­ble flare?! These are re­pro­duc­tions, as they sim­ply can­not be bought, and were made to fit ex­actly as they would have ap­peared on the start­ing grid of Fuji Speed­way. To keep weight down, the nose cone, bumper, and guards are fi­bre­glass, as they were on the gen­uine ar­ti­cle — al­though, back then, the doors were con­structed of light­ened steel, whereas Wade plans to run fi­bre­glass there in­stead.

Top­ping off the aes­thet­ics is a gen­uine signed and au­then­ti­cated Katayama chin spoiler that sat on a shelf in Ja­pan for nearly 40 years be­fore mak­ing its way to our shores The wheels are mag­ne­sium, again to keep the weight down, and only the bare min­i­mum will be used in­side and out. The plan is to run the car in the His­toric Tour­ing Cars class as a replica build and make sure it’s seen and en­joyed rather than stored away as a gen­uine piece would be.

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