Article and Photography by Corey Davis.
Back in April, we covered the Shift-S3ctor Airstrip Attack, where we sponsored the Domestic Class Winner. When we first arrived, we noticed all the usual high-powered American suspects—Ford GTs, Camaros, Mustangs, and Corvettes—but one car in particular stood out. We were positive that the Twin Turbo Ford GT nicknamed the "Black Mamba” would be the car to beat and also the one we featured. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
One of the all-time best-looking cars is the FD RX-7, and many car builders today still design their cars based on its racing lines. The FD was superfast, agile, and light with its tiny 1.3-liter motor. As years passed, however, more automakers added horsepower to keep up with or beat the RX-7. The car’s tuners were not happy with this development, though, so they began boosting existing twin turbos or adding large single turbos. The cars were superquick but also time bombs ready to explode. One knock in the engine and the apex seal (like a piston ring) would break. And it was over. Tuners were heartbroken, having spent thousands for something so short-lived. Dropping in a Supra 2JZ motor seemed to be the next best thing, but these motors are rare and expensive. The only other solution is an American V8. The 6.2-liter Corvette LS series motors are bulletproof and plentiful. Best of all, these motors fit neatly into the RX-7 engine bay.
Which brings us to the controversial engine swap. To purists, swapping an engine is a sin. To others, it’s liberating and well worth the cost to do whatever is necessary to stuff that unconventional engine under your hood. What defines the make of a car? Is it where the car was originally manufactured? Or is it the heart and soul of the car—the engine? Should the car be confined to its own hybrid class at events like Shift-S3ctor’s Airstrip Attack? Whatever the answer, we have ours.
There’s nothing more American and badass than the sound of a roaring V8. When that sound happens to be coming from a tiny Japanese-built FD RX-7 body, it’s bound to turn heads. Far from Chen’s pureblood FD RX-7 we featured a while back, Mike Schaezler’s turbo LS9 swapped RX7 is the common man’s supercar. When you put a huge engine into a small, light shell, beautiful things happen. The car weighs a mere 2,800 lbs. Mike’s shoe polish badge read 700, as in 700 hp, but hasn’t seen a dyno yet. 700 hp? Sorry, Mike, we don’t believe that!
Throughout the day, we watched this car beat the hell out of cars that cost more than twice what the RX-7 was worth. They probably had double the power output as well. GT-Rs couldn’t even touch it. It was only fitting that the last car that stood between it and the Domestic Class Trophy was the 1180 WHP "Black Mamba.” The FD didn’t disappoint and took down the king of modern domestics in a convincing manner.
From a practical standpoint, this car is all go and no show, but Mike’s working on that. You also won’t find many amenities in the cabin. Who needs A/C? A 5-point racing harness takes the place of consumer seat belts, and the Raceshop Custom Chromoly Roll Cage adds rigidity. The car sits on 18x9.5 Enkei RPF1s and rolls some sticky 275/35/18 Nitto NT01 tires. Behind the alloys are 13" Racing Brake fronts and 12.9" rears. In order to get all this power to the ground, Davis Technologies’ "self-learning” traction control regulates wheel spin.
The car also sports a Mazda speed replica hood and a modified front bumper for more intercooler surface area in order to keep the GTS76 T4 turbocharger happy. The LS9 block is accompanied by many LS goodies—an LS3 Crank, LS2 Corvette oil pan, LS9 head gaskets, and an LS3 intake.
Whether you believe this car belongs in the domestic or import class, we know for a fact that it transcends both with its American heart and Japanese body. Its podium finish within the domestic car class of Shift-S3ctor is all the proof this car needs.
Mike’s mean ride embodies much of what Revvolution is all about. Sure, we can respect the uniqueness and capabilities of a 13B and all the painstaking work it took Mazda to perfectly balance out the platform in an FD, but you can go only so far with 1.3L. This swap breaks the mold and shows what is possible with a little outside-the-box thinking and not letting what’s "right” or "wrong” define the limitations of a build.
Modified Mazda RX-7 FD at a Glance
1993 Mazda RX-7 FD
LS9 Block with Piston Squirters, Billet Main Caps
LS2 Corvette Oil Pan Modified by Samberg Fabrication
Mast Motorsports LS9 Style Aftermarket Thick Deck Heads
LS9 Head Gaskets, ARP 12MM Head Bolts
Bosche 160# Injectors
Holley HP EFI Fuel Management System
Cadillac Escalade Alternator & Power Steering System, A/C Delete
2 Walbro 400LPH Pumps
Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump
Stock FD Fuel Tank
Turbo Kit Performance - FFTec Custom Turbo Kit
GTS76 T5 Turbo
3" Downpipe into Single 3.5" Exhaust with E-cutout
Treadstone Air-to-Air Intercooler
Davis Technologies "Self Learning" Traction Control
Rebuilt F-Body BW T-56 Trans from NorCal Auto Group w/Stage 2 Upgrades
McLeod RXT Twin Disc Clutch
Driveshaft Shop 3.5" Aluminum Driveshaft with Spicer 1350 U-Joints
Samberg Fabrication 8.8" Cobra IRS Diff Mount Kit
8.8" Cobra IRS Diff with 3.31 Gears
Driveshaft Shop 300M Pro-level Axle Kit
18x9.5 Enkei RFP1
275/35/18 Nitto NT01 Tires
Racing Brake BBK 13" Front / 12.9" Rear
Raceshop Custom Chromemoly Rollbar
5-Point Harness Racing Belts
Mazdaspeed Replica Hood
Modified Front Bumper for increased Intercooler Surface Area