Rotary 7 FC

Nick’s 1987 Mazda RX-7


In 2013 I bought my first car a bone stock 1987 Rx-7 Turbo 2, these were the days when Plasti-dip was still cool and I was a teenager so please ignore the lovely color combinations. Keep in mind being 16 at the time and only having a background knowledge of pistons, a rotary engine was far out of my league.

Looking back part of me wishes I knew what I know now back then. Would have had a near perfect stock body FC fitted perfectly, just so basic and clean. Instead, I invested my days with Plasti-dip, purple spray paint, purple tint, and some obscene subwoofers (2, 10’s and 2, 12’s)

The exhaust was the first thing I started with, after driving around with a rotary 3″ open downpipe for a few months you start to enjoy having no hearing and being the most watched car on the cops list (not really). In addition to a full emissions delete and Dual 3″ straight pipe, I added the necessary water temp and boost gauges. An “FCD” (Fuel Cut Defender) was added as well as some new s5 injectors. When you open up the exhaust the turbo can spool much easier exceeding stock boost pressure, this requires some safety mods to allow the engine to not kill itself.

After evading the authorities of my teen rage the teardown began, and oh how thorough. Everything, body panels, drivetrain, paint, sound deadening, wiring, LOTS OF WIRING… Everything must be torn out and redone, nothing left stock. Engine, ECU, Ignition, Interior, Gauges, Exhaust, Body Kit, anything to make it look more like a race car and eventually actually become one.

Told you, everything stripped to the bare minimum. Eventually, my most painstaking task was to take this 50LB stack of wires and cut them out to absolutely nothing. At this point, all I kept were turn signals, brake lights, headlights, running lights, wipers, ignition key, and the ECU harness which literally just uses a few main components.

The other stage of my Rx-7 nightmare was the 3 months of pure wire brushing. That’s right for months straight all I would do is go out on the side of the house and take a wire wheel to town. Eventually turned out looking very shiny until I decided to paint it all.

Time to choose the powertrain, I found a seller out of the east coast who had a brand new built 13B with all the accessories I could possibly want.

Engine: S5 13B, Ceramic apex seals, Oil mods, Bridgeport, RB oil adapter plate

Transmission: S5 Stock Trans, New slave cylinder

Electronics: MS3Pro, S5 coils, Full almost wired wiring harness with fuse board

Intake/Exhaust: Custom intake manifold W/80MM Throttle body, HKS Bov, Custom exhaust manifold and 3.5-inch downpipe, Dual 38MM Tial Wastegates

Support: Electric water pump, Intercooler with piping, Griffin Radiator

All of this came in one package for at least half the cost! What could go wrong…

First thing was first, this was gross so black it is

Mockup in the car after receiving my new BorgWarner S366 Turbo

Fast forward through winter and the car is at its eventual home which is the gramps shop along with new rep Bride seats and some XXR wheels that were immediately sold and to this day I feel bad I put them on the car

Past the months of wiring and endless problems that arise commonly with completely custom work like this, I eventually have an interior that looks somewhat respectable with working gauges and switches

The fuel system was next, using barb fittings over -AN fittings that I can easily swap back when I plan to use a higher grade fuel line. Injector Dynamics 850CC Primary injectors and 1000CC Secondary injectors were used as well, and a single Walbro 255 fuel pump

After some learning mistakes and driving an open downpipe rx7 to the exhaust shop I had a fairly complete drift car. Then I started playing with the boost after the engine break in… Bye Bye engine

Another note to mention, don’t believe everything you see on the internet. The rear housing that cracked was actually an S4 housing which is extremely weak in that area. The S5 housings are meant for much more boost and are developed to maintain strength even after detonation or engine twisting.

The main oil galley had twisted so much that it cracked and decided to dump oil all over the streets. My main mistake was not checking what spring sizes were in the Tial wastegates I had received, apparently around 30psi worth, which cracked the housing beyond repair

Stupid mistakes ruin engines and mostly the thickness of your wallet

A new Elite Rotary Stud kit, S5 rear housing and a full clean up and rebuild was in order. This was my first rotary build

Porting the new housing and cleaning up the poor porting job done by the previous owner

And assembly

Now again with the break-in process, yay

An important note, every time I make mistakes I build better and stronger. Everything can be improved and the catastrophes just show you the weaknesses. Always learn from your mistakes and push foward, never let them hold you back (I should listen to my own advice)

Flames are fun

Was finally time to have my first track day, ORP in Grassvalley Oregon. A huge track that was frankly a little too big for someone’s first time but nonetheless was a blast and taught me a bunch as one would expect. Third gear was needed when I used second, an angle kit would have been lovely and proper oil control is crucial

Tear down #2 was in order, after having a catch can overflow and spill oil all over my car among finding other issues.

This is when the Destination Sideways Youtube series started, cutting the car apart, fuel cell, roll cage the whole bit started with what you see here

Every piece was taken off the car, 100% nothing was left

Fully stitch welded, the worst thing ever to do (sidenote also where I learned most of my welding)

This now iconic picture still has the most views on youtube. This is right before the teardown, you see a normal person wouldn’t tear a perfectly good car apart like this, I am obviously insane

This is what that decently put together car turned into in a matter of days

My altime favorite suspension arrived from PBM, these are the competition coilovers and on a budget just a tad used

The rest of the PBM goodies for the FC

First time ever building a roll cage let alone an 8pt FD spec cage with 1.25 wall DOM tube, had a ton of help from John Gratsy who only asked for the fridge to be stocked with tropical Redbull and cheap beer. The best of friends really just want to teach and be there for you when you need them most (ended up not using the gussets, happy in the end that I didn’t use them, much cleaner and the simpler the better)

Fuel cell and custom rear tub mockup all of which can be seen in my DS Youtube series

Tig and Mig welded supports for the front tubs

Tubs all welded up

Now this is when things start to look pretty, my gorgeous rear end (never thought I’d say that) that no one will ever see

Plus the plethora of parts that I somehow accumulated to pull off this build