1973 Sigma MC73 #26Pilots: T. Ikuzawa, H. Fushida. P. Dal Bo Team: Sigma Automotive Race: DNF (S 2.5) at Le Mans in 1973 Bizarre - BZ 006 (resin)
Shin Kato was a Toyota engineer in the late 60s, however he wanted to dedicate himself solely to motorsports. That being so, in 1972 he quit his job and founded Sigma Automotive Company. His aim was to develop and produce motorsport related parts and accessories. And to test and publicize the company’s products, he also created a racing team. Right off the bat the Sigma team entered the Fuji Grand Champion Series, a drivers’ championship in Japan originally for 2-liter Group B6 cars. Fueled by the good results of 1972, Kato aimed his sights on something bigger – in 1973 he wanted to race at Le Mans. Until then, no Japanese team or car had ever entered the race.
For the 24 Heures du Mans Sigma needed something very specific. Therefore, based on the European Chevron and Lola cars, they designed the MC73. The MC73 was a two-place spyder, with a fiberglass body, a standard design for the time. What was not standard was their choice of engine, a Mazda rotary unit. The first time a Wankel engine wailed through La Sarthe was in 1970, powering a Belgian Chevron B16. Yet, just four hours into the race the Chevron abandoned with cooling issues. Even so, Sigma thought a Wankel was a good choice because it was small and light. They installed Mazda’s 12A unit, with two rotors and displacing 2292 cm³. The engine delivered around 250 hp at 8000 rpm, which may not sound much. But for a light car (600 kg) like the MC73 it was enough.
The MC73 was the first Japanese car ever to qualify for Le Mans. Hopes were high for Sigma, especially because their MC73 #26 qualified in 14th. Luck was not on their side however, and on lap 79 a broken clutch retired the car. Nevertheless, Sigma came back to La Sarthe in 1974 (DNC) and 1975 (DNF). Despite the lack of results in the real world, in 1:43 scale Sigma is a winner. Well, admittedly it’s an oddball, but a very charming oddball. As usual, Bizarre delivers a very honest effort, though surely not as elaborate as a Spark model. Still, a nice one. The only bad thing about it is the lack of info on the real thing. I did (or I think I did) find pages in Japanese about the MC73, but my Japanese is as good as my Sanskrit 🙄. A shame, because I do love these oddballs.