Video: 630-HP, Rotary-Powered Mazda3 Hillcilmber

There aren’t many hillclimbers which come odder than this hatchback. It may be wearing the skin of a sedate Mazda3, but underneath, this is a tube-framed racer with a turbocharged rotary engine pushing all 2,100 pounds around the narrow hillclimb. Twin-turbo, in fact.

Photo credit: Engine Swap Depot

Yann Hêche, its Swiss driver, enlisted MPS Rotary to build the two-rotor motor, with which he’s got 630 horsepower, 370 lb-ft of torque, and all the flame any hedonist could want. Between every shift of the six-speed sequential gearbox, the powerplant churns, pops, and belches fireballs to the delight, and possibly horror, of the onlookers.

Though the frame is largely the Mazdaspeed3’s, they added a jungle of tubing for a cage and tune-framed the front end. Photo credit: HIll Climb Fans

Looking at the detail involved, it’s amazing they were able to complete this project in just twenty-seven months. The frame this car started with was the standard Mazdaspeed3’s, but because the E2-SH category which this car runs in allows for a bit of hot-rodding, the team tube-framed the front end, and then decided to change the layout. The 13B sits up front, but well behind the stock firewall location, and sends power to the rear axle. Not only does this compact motor aid in rotation, but the rest of the car looks stiff enough to put down the monumental power. It does have that wing, the diffuser, slicks, and a fifth door adding to the traction, but it’s still pretty remarkable considering the layout. Not exactly your uncle’s grocery getter any more, is it?


About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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