1983 MAZDA RX7 SERIES III
JOSEPH LENTHALL’S stor y wit h his beloved Series III R X7 sta rts as a k id in Adelaide, growing up and watching rotar y-powered R100s howling around racetracks.
Upon moving to Sydney, he found a lot of t he g uys t here were racing early-series R X7s instead of t he compacts in his homestate, “because they handled better, and they were cheaper too,” back t hen.
“I’ve a lways wanted a bridgeport race car,” says Joseph, a motorsport man at heart. He picked up this ex-works racecar, and under his care, it continues to be raced and enjoyed.
In 2013, Joseph embarked on the brave and admirable endeavour of underta k ing a f ull tear-down rotisserie rebuild and respray in his single-car suburban Sydney garage.
“We soda blasted it in my garage, it looked like Dexter, wit h a ll t he plastic sheets hanging ever y where.”
Joseph jokes t hat it “wasn’t a great decision” but in doing a ll t he work himself he saved himself some v ita l pocket change.
“There would have been no way I’d have been able to af ford it,” he says.
As for f uture plans, Joseph simply wants to maintain his car and keep on racing.
When asked about adv ice for those seek ing early R X7s of t heir own, Joseph is quick to point out t he mechanical horror stories usually linked to t he Wankel engine.
“Like any t hing, if you keep stretching it, eventua lly it will brea k.”
“I’ve never had it go on me, I’ve never had it go boom, it’s never spat out a sea l”.
Joseph stresses t hat wit h diligent maintenance, major catastrophes can be avoided.
“Catch it before it goes boom,” he says. "Check, ref urb, refresh.
"It’s much better to check and f i x something, than have to f ind and rebuild a whole engine."
RIGHT The transformation from sporty road car to potent track weapon is complete. ABOVE Joseph's success demonstrates that potent race cars can emerge from suburban garages.
RIGHT The bridgeport motor has proved to be durable as well as powerful.