By Stuart Grant with photography by Mike Schmucker
South African manufacturers have a long and proud history of building road-going homologation specials that allowed humble family cars to become winners on the race track. In the 1970s, this often meant shoehorning hulking great motors into small saloons. But Mazda, who was already a little off beat with its focus on rotary power, did things a little differently with the introduction of the Capella Rotary RS Coupé in September 1976.
Yes, that’s right, the Capella RS is another race-inspired homebrewed homologation special, except its modifications were very minimal. Reason being was that the regular Capella Rotary (launched in November 1974) was already competitive in the Group 1 race formula with the likes of Turk Viljoen, Nols Nieman, Tony Martin, Colin Burford, Tony Viana and Guy Tumner in the driver seat. But those in the know knew there was more in the Mazda – with just a few tweaks it could stay at the sharp end of the grid for a few more years. Their solution was the RS which featured the fitment of shorter-than-regular variable-rate coil springs that dropped the car 45mm and swapping out the 165/13 tyres for wider 175/13 tekkies. Spotting an RS was made easy by the addition of a rally stripe along the lower edge of the flanks and redesigned seats featuring a cloth insert.