Hidden Talent: 700hp And Street Legal
Simply clean

Speedhunters’ quest to hunt down the world’s coolest car builds brings us face-to-face with some wild-eyed machinery. I’m sure you know the sort of four-wheeled creations I’m talking about too – a Honda S600 with a giant turbos erupting from its bodywork, a 1500hp twin turbo Chevy LS1-powered Volkswagen Golf, a Peugeot 208 capable of going zero to 100km/h in 1.8 seconds, and a Lamborghini V12-ingesting Fiat 500.

But not every feature car you’ll read about on the site screams ‘I belong in an automotive asylum’. Some go about their business with minimal fuss; such is the case with this svelte FC3S Mazda RX-7 from Sydney, Australia.


Given its close-to-factory appearance and purposeful stance, you could be forgiven for dismissing John Macukatic’s Series 5 as a lightly modified streeter. In many ways you’d be right to think that way too, because this is a car that’s been purposely built with that OEM feel in mind.


But that’s really only half the story, and after being extended an introduction from our good friends at Zen Garage who were lucky enough to snag John’s car for their All Stars booth at October’s Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge, we knew we needed to take a closer look.


John doesn’t really know why a Series 5 RX-7 became the basis for this extensive build loaded with quality parts. Many others cars, including a Series 2 SA22C and Series 8 FD3S came and went during the five or so years he owned the Mazda before embarking on its major overhaul a couple of years ago, but for some reason, selling the FC3S never crossed his mind. Keeping the car, but evolving it into a seriously cool street machine, seemed like the right thing to do.


Despite some pretty hardcore underpinnings, the one aspect John really didn’t want to mess with too much was the way the RX-7 looked – precisely why you won’t find it redressed in aftermarket FRP bolt-ons. Instead, he ran with an understated approach, fitting a few select exterior accessories that only serve to accentuate the Series 5’s factory styling rather than detract from it.


Take the carbon fibre roof spoiler, Shine Auto carbon fibre rear diffuser and the oh-so-subtly pumped and rolled front and rear guards for instance. I’m not sure about you, but I’m finding it pretty hard to argue with John’s logic here.


At the front end, the right carbon fibre front lip spoiler was all it took to bring the front end on point. The paint – Gun Grey Metallic borrowed from Nissan’s BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R, certainly helps the cause too.


As restrained as its outward appearance might be though, there’s a lot more to this perfectly formed FC than first meets the eye. And that most definitely includes what’s going on in the engine bay where a Mazda 20B three-rotor motor built with 700hp-on-pump-gas potential in mind, puts a whole new spin on things.

Triple threat

In its previous form the FC had danced to the beat of a fully built 13B turbo, which according to John provided the RX-7 with no shortage of power for the street. Regardless of that fact though, a genuine 20B re-power was on the cards for a long time, so it was really only a matter of when not if a JC Cosmo triple would find its way into the Mazda. After sourcing a suitable donor engine, Sydney tuner Race Solutions Performance was tasked with the build; a process that included machining, dowelling and stud-kitting the housings, bridge-porting the side plates, and balancing and setting the factory rotors to race clearance. RSP-spec apex seals and a lightened D-series crankshaft from a late 20B engine were also added into the mix.


Although the 20B output around 300hp in factory twin turbo form, realising more that double that number in a reliable manner required RSP to undertake a few external modifications too. Some, you might say, are just a little more obvious than others.


In a sea of mirror-polished metal, the BorgWarner S400 billet 88mm turbocharger commands attention, but that’s something to be expected given the sheer physical size of the boost-generating beast. Along with a custom ceramic-coated tubular exhaust manifold featuring EGT sensors on each runner for tuning purposes, the turbo upgrade employs a TiAL V60 60mm wastegate and a four-inch downpipe running into dual three-inch stainless steel exhausts to expel spent gasses.


On the other side, you’ll find a custom front-mounted intercooler built around a PWR core, and hand-crafted aluminium pipes with dual TiAL Q 50mm blow-off valves to relieve pent-up pressure in the inlet tract. The intake system benefits from a port-matched and high-flow manifold and modified throttle body, plus a suitably-sized fuel supply incorporating multiple Walbro race pumps, oversized fuel lines and custom twin fuel rails feeding six thirsty 2000cc Injector Dynamics ID2000 injectors. Luckily for John, high octane pump gas is still affordable in Australia.


I’ve seen some pretty clean engine bays in my time, and this one’s right up there with the best. With so much to take in, it’s only when you stop to really appreciate it, that the amount of work that’s gone into getting it to look this way become apparent. The hidden harness – one facet of a complete front-t0-rear rewire and integration of a Haltech Sport 2000 engine management system, the inner guard smoothing, the custom colour coding on the end plates – and the list goes on… Then there’s the stuff that you’d be hard-pressed to pick, like the custom mounts which were designed and fabricated to sit the engine as far rearward as possible without having it foul on the firewall. It’s a tight fit at the back, but every millimetre matters when you’re building car with performance as the primary concern.


That said, it’s no surprise that numerous upgrades have been made in the driveline, suspension and brake departments too. There’s a Direct Clutch Services twin-plate clutch fitted to support the massive torque loads generated by the 20B, and OS Giken internals in the Series 5’s five-speed transmission to provide closer ratios and extra strength through an uprated mainshaft to lessen the chances of implosion when John unleashes hell with his right foot. And let’s not forget the Mazdaspeed limited slip differential and strengthened axles either. To firm up the handling, there’s a full course of polyurethane bushes on the underside, plus multi-way Cusco adjustable coilovers, Mazdaspeed sway bars with rose-jointed links and a custom modified and manualised rack to improve steering response and feel.


And then there are the brakes – barely contained behind a set of glorious bronze 19-inch RAYS Engineering Volk Racing CE28N forged wheels – massive AP Racing eight-pot calipers grabbing 356mm slotted rotors on the front end, and six-pot/330mm equivalents from the same maker holding up the rear. With custom stainless lines, and AP Racing competition pads and fluid in use, I think it’s safe to assume that the FC stops rather well – a welcome trait I’m sure given its ruthless acceleration ability.

Formed function

As he chose to do with the exterior, John has kept things clean and functional within the confines of the FC’s late-’80s style cockpit. Staying true to the original build ethos, there’s just the right amount of modification going on here using some really nice gear to boot. That includes a pair of timeless Recaro SPG seats and a Nardi Deep Corn suede wheel fitted on a quick-release Works Bell hub.


The rear end is more race with a half cage and integrated strut bar, and a distinct lack of sound deadening. The best of both worlds perhaps? I’m certainly digging the approach John has taken here.


Likewise, the RacePak IQ3 digital display/data logger with sequential shift light that replaces the factory analogue dials in the dash is a nice addition. It was also a real no-brainer given simple plug-and-play connection to the Haltech ECU.


The SW Motorsport hydraulic handbrake assembly on the other hand, was a required solution for the park brake, having done away with the cables and original rear calipers.


Above all, I really like the fact that the FC’s original fixtures and all of the recent race-grade additions fit perfectly well together in this space – something that has a lot to do with the almost minimalistic approach taken with the interior perhaps. Less is sometimes more, don’t you think?


There are many ways John could have attacked the project, but I can’t help but feel that he nailed it in every single respect. This is a car that still looks and feels like Mazda’s poster child of the early 1990s, but with a slightly unhinged alter ego that’s ready to make itself well and truly known the moment its rightfully proud owner jumps on the loud pedal. According to John, the toughest part of the build was keeping it street friendly – something easier said than done with an all-out race engine stuffed between the front struts – but seeing it through to completion the way he always envisaged it, has been totally worth it.


Whether or not it will ever truly be finished is another thing though. There are plans in the works to upgrade the factory-based five-speed gearbox to an aftermarket six-speed, and undertake a few more mods in the rear end so the full force of the 20B engine can be reliably realised. But as it sits right now, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a pretty cool car to have in the garage, and in John’s case, right alongside his other Mazda rotary infatuation – a gorgeous ’69 R100 coupe that he’s planning on keeping in original condition. The RX-3 project he has his eye on though – well that’s another story…



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Freakin awesome.  One of the best FCs I've seen.


oh thank you! a cure for a tired eyes (from looking dino's lambos) haha
quite possibly my fav fc ;) superbly done!


double posting, but wth.. just cant get enough of that engine bay, and overall cleanliness of the build.. something for me to strive for my project car. MY GOOD GOD..

turbo BEAMS ae86

let out a cry of glee when i scrolled and saw the polished 20b intake runners.  Nice car nice to see someone stick with a FC over the fd.  like the dual dolphin mufflers too.



turbo BEAMS ae86

@carguy i see but i was expecting a LS or 13b so the second i saw 3 rotor i get very surprised  8)


It's refreshing to see a car like this featured. Very clean with no crazy body kits and wild mods. As much as I love the Rocket Bunny and RWB cars they get old real quick. Great article!




really good.


Well executed!! Love the car.


Great article and excellent photos. Wow, what a sharp build.


Such a totally beautiful car and one of the nicest FC's I have ever laid eyes on.  I am a big fan of 17" or 18" wheels on these but its probably my only knock on this build.  Cool to see a 20bFC since there have been so many LS1 features lately, although I am an LS1T56 kinda guy.  Once again just a gorgeous car, wicked color and setup, what a real jewel.


I think I actually prefer the FC to the FD, just something about that wedge shape.


Ah, my kind of build. :) Beautiful.


LS1RX7_owen Also my first thought when I read through this article. I agree about the wheel size that 17" or maybe 18" would compliment the car so much better.


That tank in the hatch area, is that a fuel cell? reserve?


"Shine Auto carbon fibre rear diffuser"
Any chance of a detail picture of this light enough to see what it looks like instead of the typical artsy-fartsy overly shadowed typical photography?


D's uphill racer ;) Perfect!! Would love this. Btw, what's the fuel and oil consumption of this engine?


This car it´s so amazing... the building it´s one of my favorites, the engine s a monster :D


LS1RX7_owen 17's won't clear 356mm rotors up front, but 18's would have been a much better option.


thanks everyone for the comments !  and thanks again to brad and the speedhunters team for the feature. all the years of visiting the site never thought I'd be ever featured on here..
also don't worry guys the car also runs a set 18s te37s with semi's I change in between them when ever I choose :)


This car is so beautiful...brings tears to my eyes


Beautiful build. I've learned that usually if a car has an amazing brake job it is a sign of what lurks elsewhere in the car, if it is stock looking on the outside. It's kinda of a slight tell-tell of an awesomely built car.


I think you're forgetting you're a kid yourself..


@CheeseR Exactly.


Hate to be a party pooper but …… If I didn't know better the brakes are K-Sport painted red which I have problem with as I use them on my BNR32 and its the best value upgrade I've EVER fitted to a vehicle just looks to me that there has been a lot of effort put into them to make them 'look' like AP Racing …...


So nasty. the FC3s S5 is one of the best looking late 80s cars out there, and using the 20B instead of the easy v8 route deserves much kudos


@James hey james front brakes are 100% AP RACING  rears are k-sport with AP racing pads got the rears for a baragin from a NZ performance shop close down sale.. rears were painted to suit the front. since the shoot I've placed MAZDA decals on cailpers to look complete the "factory" look :)


My god it's beautiful! I love every single part of this car. So tasteful and perfectly excecuted. I've always been partial to the FCs. Awesome work John.

your mom434353325

You should use knee pads next time


I would but your mother wouldn't give them back after our night if fun.


Those 20B's are impressive, awesome build!


THIS, and THAT 'Green Puke' Volvo ovlov, both make me jizz in my pants


I like ALL of this car.  Really pieced together well.


JohnMacukatic No problem there. I did the same thing when I was running brembos on the front and some other brand—I forget—on the back. I just ran Ferrari decals all the way around until I redid the brakes with all Brembo calipers. 

Bad ass car.


really nice build


JohnMacukatic This car is absolutely Perfect -- This type of low keyed styling and performance package is a million times better than the stuff coming out of TAS -- (Oh, am I going to hammered for that comment LOL) -- I'd show what I've done to my '70 Ghia but it is not worthy.... Keep perfecting it, Love to see it again in a few years as you continue to sort it out


That is NICE. I like pretty much everything on this car, bar perhaps the 19" wheels. Otherwise I love it though. It's refreshing to see a simple, clean, well executed build without bolt on flares for once.

Well, as simple as a 700hp street car can be, haha.


What a great car! Looove the shiny engine bits.   :)


love it! really have looked forward to seeing a 3 rotor in an fc.

would be cool if you cover this guy when he is finished. really interesting build!


Do you happen to have pics with the TE37s? Love the build.


I love this little Mazda. Tastefully terrific!


@JohnMacukatic do you have pics to post, even cell phone quality, with the TEs on? Many of us would enjoy!


I am a huge FC fan, and though I think turbo cars are often pushed a bit hard (though they are awesome fun), this is a gorgeous example of both.  The engine bay, which is my focus on a car every time, is beautifully executed and still simple and to the point.  Points the builders, hands down.


wheatgod Your response doesn't really indicate such...really? 
"You kids these days don't know what props are" :/


Mindspin_311 surge tank


I would ditch the stock hood and stock bumper for one with better air flow.  with the aftermarket oil coolers and everything


Wow. So happy to hear that people are still doing their best to keep their 7 alive and make them better than ever.


You rarely see these on the road any more where an am from "Trinidad" but this looks amazing...


CoreySeaton  it puts out 700 horsepower as it sits without ruining a beautiful stock FC body..what more can you ask for


Absolutely STUNNING... One of (If not THE BEST) the cleanest,well thought out FC builds i've seen,both street/track friendly.
Alot of people focus on one or the other,therefore making the build a tad more "Less complicated" But to build such a clean example is a Amazing feat in it self..
Massive congratulation's on the final result,2 thumbs up..


Great build..congrats to the owner..