Faster Than A Superbike:<br/> A Real 1,017hp Street Fighter
Are You Ready?

Cherry picking the best parts from around the world, Craig Taylor has spent the last 15 years transforming his Mazda RX-7 in to a 1,017hp, twin turbo, tyre-killing freak. With the capability to make 1,500hp on the current setup, is it madness or magic?

This is a story of how one man just wanted to go fast. And I mean really, really fast.

Dynotorque UK Mazda RX7 LS3 twin turbo (76 of 76)

Bench racing with your mates aside, have you ever experienced that kind of power in anything? It’s a serious question. The sense of mild fear when you climb into a passenger seat – or better still, the driver’s seat – knowing there’s a magical amount of power waiting for you to command it, brings on a powerful sensation. It’s an addiction that you have to satisfy – sometimes at any cost.

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To get a better handle on how we got here today, I’m going to run through Craig’s history. I think it’s vital when you try to understand how a car like this exists, that you know as much as possible about the person who built it, because this is not the sort of project that just happens, or appears. Some people might dismiss it as just another V8-swapped RX-7, but to do so would be a massive mistake.

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There are many reasons why we’re looking at a twin turbo V8 in the engine bay of this Mazda, the first is because Craig is based in Birmingham, England. Nearby you’ll find the Land Rover factories, and before they went to China, Rover too. Historically in England, if you wanted a V8, you got a Rover. The 3.5-litre (215ci) was initially produced under license from Buick, but after years of refinement displacement was increased to 5.0-litre and the engine was available in all sorts of cars.

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In the mid ’90s, Craig was doing a lot of experimentation with bigger displacement engines. “They sounded good and you could buy the parts easy enough,” he recalls. “I first had a Ford XR4i [Merkur] that ended up with a 4.6-litre V8 Range Rover engine in it, but looked stock from the outside. I’d come up through the Ford ranks and always loved the XR4i for being rear-wheel drive – it was great.”

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Next came a 5.0-litre that got dropped into a first-gen Toyota Hilux for some off-roading. “It was ridiculous,” says Craig. “It used to bend the chassis and hit the cab on the bed as it twisted.”

What I really wanted to know though, was what made Craig an engine swapper in the first place – and by that I mean somebody who naturally mixes and matches without caring for marques – so I ran that question by him. “I ran a bike dyno centre at the time and for a lot of the guys it just came down to speed – it didn’t matter how we got there. As for an engine swap, once you’ve done it and felt the results, there’s no going back.”

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And that’s the second reason right there: speed – all you can handle and more. Bike guys have always argued that cars can never be as quick, so when a bike guy builds a car, you know it’s going to get serious.

I’ve got to tell you about another creation before we get to the Mazda, as the more I heard about it, the more I understood why something like this RX-7 makes sense to Craig.

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It was a Range Rover Classic, which was bobtailed (when you shorten both the rear chassis and body overhang), lowered around 8 inches with wider Discovery 2 axles and a load of other bits, and was running a 4.6-litre Rover V8. Oh, and it could turn a 14-second quarter mile too…

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As abundant as Rover V8s are in the UK, you’re always limited to how much power they will make for reasonable money spent. That’s kind of a sticking point, as in the last two decades access to bigger power from smaller capacities engines with supercharging and turbos means they’ve become a bit of a dinosaur. The kind of thing your dad’s mate has got in his hot rod, but really, you could probably beat it in a race with a modern hot hatch.

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In the late ’90s Craig realised he wanted to get back into a sportscar, so he went on the hunt for a suitable donor for the Rover engine. Craig remembers, “I looked around and found a Porsche 944 Turbo, then an Audi Quattro, which I really liked – but they were too much money. Escort Cosworth – the same, plus they’d just get nicked.”

I Like That One
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It was around 2000-2001 when he stumbled across this FD3S Mazda RX-7 at a rotary specialists, parked up with a blown 13B motor. “I told the bloke he could keep the engine and ‘box – he was horrified when I said what I was going to do,” says Craig.

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Confessing to not really knowing anything about the Mazda model then – apart from that fact they liked blowing engines – why the RX-7 then? “It was a 9-year-old car at the time and really straight and solid, but I didn’t know much about them,” Craig said. “I just thought that looks good. It ticked all the boxes and had a nice big engine bay and transmission tunnel.”

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There weren’t many late-model RX-7s on the road in the UK at the time, and officially Mazda only sold 124 series 6 models (’92-’95), so it was a rare thing. Craig’s is an early import that arrived in the UK prior to the massive influx from Japan in the early ’00s. With the rolling shell back in Birmingham, Craig dropped the Rover motor in – a 4.6-litre with a lower plenum – and drove it around like that for a bit.

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Then somebody was selling 5.0-litre crank and rods, and stage three heads, so in they went. “I put a bigger cam in but it shunted it’s brains out,” says Craig. “Jenvey sorted out some throttle bodies, it had an Emerald ECU and made 345hp which was quite a lot back then. It was good fun but it wasn’t, enough.”

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That need for speed shines through, right? Don’t forget that this is all back in the early ’00s…

As luck would have it though, the requirement for a new gearbox led Craig to his now favourite engine. “A friend of mine worked at Vauxhall looking after all the motorsport stuff,” he said. “I tuned his bike and told him I was after one of the gearboxes they used in the Monaro, as I’d heard they were good.”

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“I said I’d make a plate up to run it behind the Rover. He told me they’d had a car in with about 450 miles on it that they’d prepped for the press fleet. It had been given to a journalist who’d gone up the road and put it backwards through a hedge after about 10 miles.”

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Journalists eh? Pah… This was when the Monaro first got launched in the UK in mid-2004, so did Craig want the engine to go with the box? Err… yeah! With the insurance all cleared up, the pair were collected. It’s kind of ironic really that a Chevrolet engine replaced the Rover, which was originally a Buick – also a GM product.

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Slotting the LS into the RX-7, Craig recalls, “I put it in bog-stock and it made 414hp. It drove beautifully with power and torque everywhere.”

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Selling the 5.0-litre Rover V8 and gearbox that he pulled out actually brought in more money than it cost him to upgrade, and this is how it’s worked pretty much ever since. As Craig upgrades whatever is under the bonnet, customers come along and want to buy whatever they’ve just been taken out for a ride in. Plus, Craig is really good at putting cars together, so nothing stays as it is for very long.

Everyday Is Power Day
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Craig’s business these days is called Dyno Torque, and he had a big part to play in the Driftworks 86 build, and subsequently looking after it at events. It’s all starting to make more sense now, huh?

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With a stroker kit fitted to the LS1, it made 538hp at the crank, but one passenger ride later and the engine was sold to a customer and a stroked LS3 was purchased. Just in case you don’t know your LS engines, I think it’s probably worth explaining the basic differences: LS1 is 5.7-litre, LS6 is 5.7-litre and the LS2 is 6.0-litre with the better heads – so the LS6 came out as an interim motor. The LS3 is 6.2-litre and the LS7 is 7.0-litre.

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Craig likes the LS3 as a base as they are thicker walled than the LS7, with more meat left between the bores. That LS3 ended up getting long stroked to 7.1 litres with a big cam, and Craig smiles as he says, “Around town it was horrific on fuel and your eyes would water if you stood near the exhaust. It shunted a lot too,” – shunting being the hunting of revs lower down the range, which makes the car annoying to drive at slow speeds. Hang on, didn’t we hear that same complaint a few hundred horsepower ago?

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This is when the gods of forced induction arrived to smooth everything out. Yes, I said smooth – it’s turbo time. These days there is no real reason for lag unless you actually want it. Craig dismissed a supercharger – not because he doesn’t like them (far from it), but rather because it would have meant modifying the bonnet line of the Mazda.

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He didn’t want to do that, because by this point he’d properly fallen for the shape of the FD3S and wanted to maintain the purity of it.

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Naturally, it was going to be a tight fit, and everybody who looked in the LS3-equipped engine bay told Craig it couldn’t be done. Craig being the man he is took that as a challenge and decided twin turbos were the way forward. That initial install is pretty much as you see it today, with the turbos sat out front. The intercooler and radiator are under the sweeping front end too.

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Looking at the engine bay now, it just makes sense the way it’s all been laid out. But hopefully if you’ve read the story so far, you’ll understand that this is the result of years of experience. With the engine up and running it made 750hp with just 4psi of boost – lovely smooth, linear boost. That was about 2011 and over the last four years Craig has had a lot of fun in the car, whilst forever refining the package.

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For a man so used to swapping engines and cars, it’s a testament to the Mazda that Craig has held onto it for so long. Considering he admits the name doesn’t mean much to him, the shape has kept him loyal. Modifications like the rear over-fenders took him 18 months to decide on, just in case they ‘ruined’ the looks. For the record, Craig is very happy with them now. For a man with no real affinity to the Japanese car scene, I wonder how it’s come to look so right?

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“With Driftworks being next door it’s always got to be lower, wider and have the most ridiculous wheels,” Craig said tongue and cheek. “I guess I’m easily influenced.” The Work Emotion Kai wheels are 10.5-inch wide at all four corners, and they need to be, because with fine tuning the RX-7 now makes 1,017hp at the crank, at 1bar (14.7psi), and generates 980ft-lbs of torque.

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“I rev it to 7,000rpm normally, but it peaks at about 6,500rpm,” says Craig. “The gearing is always a battle, but it’s got a Dodge Viper diff in it now, a 3.07, so it’s got a lot of legs.” Another ironic stroke considering Playboy magazine tested the FD3S against the Dodge Viper when they were both new back in 1993 – the Mazda coming out on top as the better car. Go figure!

Power & Pain
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Of course, with power come problems. The RAM twin plate-clutch was bolted up to an alloy flywheel, but the power was elongating the holes in it, so it’s been replaced with a steel one. And after Craig found paint flaking off the propshaft, he realised it was twisting under load, so there’s a carbon equivalent under there now. “It’s crazy, it’s glued together,” he says with a smile.

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It’s been a long hard battle to get to this stage, but I get the feeling that Craig is almost at his destination. Going back to the title and just how fast this is, he has this to say: “It can never be fast enough, but this is the only car I’ve ever had that’s bike speed. It will outrun a Hayabusa on 4psi of boost – 80mph roll-on is crazy. I’ve been with a mate who’s on his R1, and I mean he’s on the gun and I’m staying with him spinning the wheels – and then it grips and goes. They’re not slow bikes either – the Mazda is genuinely quite fast.”

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Notice how he said “quite”? Genuine quote right there, because for Craig I don’t think it will ever be fast enough, so what else can he do? “I want it to work. I don’t use it an awful lot but it’s there when I want it,” he added. “But I could put 1.5bar (22psi) in it and it would do 1,500hp easily, but it’s still an alloy block. So if I put the LSX block in it, just as it is, and put 2bar (29psi) through it, it would do 1,800hp to 1900hp.”

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With a grin you kind of know he’s serious, and if that wasn’t enough, I spied an LSX block in the engine building bay of Dyno Torque. Really. But I want to know what his take is on those people who aren’t a fan of the V8 swap? “‘I used to take a lot of flack, but I’ve swapped LS motors into 16 RX-7s, and I’ll bet at least 10 of those would have been scrapped [otherwise]. It’s just a car with four wheels, I really don’t get it. The engine doesn’t make a car. If Mazda had made the RX-8 with a 2.3-litre turbocharged Duratec, they’d still be selling them now. What a good car that would have been!”

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In fact, Craig is building an RX-8 for his next car, but we’ll save that story for another day… For me though this RX-7 might just be perfection. It has the power to keep 99.9 per cent of us happy, the looks to satisfy the purists, a full interior complete with retrimmed Recaros and a proper Nardi steering wheel to make you smile when burbling along.

Take a look at this video to see how subtle the Mazda is on the move – until Craig decides otherwise that is. But bear in mind it was filmed in the private industrial estate where Dyno Torque is based, and I don’t think Craig used more than about 3,500rpm!

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The next time you think you can never have enough power, or that a V8 swap is an easy option, just remember this story and realise that nothing comes easily – you have to fight and work for it. But listening to Craig, I think it might just be worth it… So you just have to ask yourself, how badly do you want it?

Bryn Musselwhite
bryn@speedhunters.com
Instagram: Speedhunterbryn

Craig Taylor’s Twin Turbo LS3 V8 Mazda RX-7

Engine
GM Chevrolet LS3 block bored & stroked to 6.9L, steel crank and rods, forged Diamond pistons, line-bored block, ARP bolt kit, ported oil pump, dual timing chain kit, ET Performance CNC heads, roller rockers, chromoly push rods, dual valve springs, stainless valves, titanium retainers, custom 238/238 cam, Emerald ECU, custom wiring loom, FAST intake manifold, 90mm throttle body, K&N air filters, billet belt tensioner, 45mm headers, 4-inch exhaust system, dual 3-inch tail section, Aeromotive fuel pump, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator

Driveline
Tremec TR6060 6-speed manual gearbox, RAM twin-plate clutch, carbon prop, Dodge Viper diff unit, OS Giken 1.5-way diff, Driveshaft Sshop kit

Suspension/Brakes
Nitron 3-way shocks, bump steer kit and increased lock mods, AP GT Spec 380mm front discs, AP 4-pot 328mm rear discs, SPOT handbrake calipers

Wheels
Work Emotion Kai 18×10-inch

Exterior
Flush-fit HID headlight kit, Burnout front bumper, Feed bonnet, 99-spec rear spoiler

Interior
RX-7 Type RZ Recaro seats retrimmed in leather/Alcantara, Nardi steering wheel, SPA gauges integrated in to dash surround & door pod

Cutting Room Floor
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90 comments

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1

Cool RX-7!

2

Great build!!! I would love to see this thing vs a 3rotor with a dual turbo setup to have a comparison on performance> Great article Bryn!!!

3
Speedhunters_Bryn

jacobherman14 Thank you :) Yup, if only we could have lined it up with Mad Mike when he was over for some rotary V8 mind melting moments!

4

That's a great build, and an impressive car!

5

Dude, he'd better start seriously working out his downforce, or he'll take off one day if he keeps this up.

6

This is it, close Speedhunters, you've reached the peak!
Mind-fuckin-blowing.

7

I love the way this article is written as a story with pictures to go along with it, rather than the text just reading like captions to the photos. It also doesn't hurt that I've always wanted a red FD3S, and this might be the most perfect example I've ever seen.

8

excellent article... wowwowowowowooww

9

I am always admiring the people who will stay loyal to a car for many years, upgrading the car until it get's closer and closer to perfection. It shows dedication and - definitely in this case - true craftsmanship. Really nice written article as well!

10

This article oozles of awesomeness.  Being a RX-7 owner myself I love it when I see other 7's being enjoyed. Sticking with the rotary or swapping with the v8 is all up to the owner as long as they're enjoying their vehicle.
Incredible build.  Thanks for taking the time to write this.  Truly entertaining.

11

Craig is a top man :o) Been following the build on fduk always in awe.

12

Top work all around Bryn. Writing, shots, content, etc. Brilliant car too.

13

Im really glad i read this. It was entertaining and i also learned so much, thank you a bunch Speedhunters.

14

I remember back in the day when twin-turbo setups were shunned in favor of single turbo setups...  I love these big-power setups!

15

Wow, this is just awesome! 
Great job Speedhunters.

16
Pete the perfect pilot

Waste of a rx 7 ....

17

All that speed and couldn't scrap some change together for a roll cage? Seriously 1500 hp - 1900 hp and no rollcage!

18

Mental build and an excellent article. I thought I recognized the street from the DW86 shoot, made sense as to why when I got to the latter half of the feature!

19

these two buckets look damn comfortable

20

Please can you film a top speed run with this awsome beast.i will chip in for petrol

21

American v8..... ZZzzzzzz.....

22
Tasos Papazachariou

Not a fan of such swaps but it's definitelly a great car.Why can't modern sports car look like this?

23

I clicked on this story to see a cool car and instead, found you guys running a story on my dream house.

24

thank you speedhunters! these are the posts that reallllyyy get my blood pumping. funny the dw86 did the same!

25

Now that a FD is featured, V8 swapped, which I understand why people do it although I don't like it....WHERE IS THE SCOOT 4 ROTOR FD?! Can't wait!!!

26

The odd thing about LS-into-FD swaps is that they're one on the few times that replacing the stock powerplant actually makes the car MORE reliable.

27

Pete the perfect pilot Why is it waste? It makes the owner happy and in the end thats all that really counts right? In other words if you don't own the title don't call the vehicle a waste for I'm sure it will probably kill your car in the circuit or on the strip. #BeRespectful

28

Great pictures and even better writing. I think Bryn's got the best writing chops on the SH's staff. BTW, does anyone know what those hood latches are called? I need something like that for my build...

29

Not a huge fan of the LS / FD swaps but if it makes the owner happy that's what matters. For the people claiming unreliability from Rotaries, it's a myth if they're built properly. They're no more or less reliable than anything else.

30
Speedhunters_Bryn

@Scotty Thanks for the understanding, you're quite right with proper maintenance they're not as bad as people make out. They do need a special understanding though and when people jump between marques I think sometimes they don't adapt to the rotary way of life!

31
Speedhunters_Bryn

Aktifspeed Thank you, that's very kind of you! I'd dispute it of course ;)

The hood latches are commonly known as 'aero' catches, depending on where you are, these are available in the UK and at least give you a picture to work with! Good luck 

https://www.merlinmotorsport.co.uk/p/aerocatch-bonnet-pins-flush-locking-125-2100?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=ShoppingUK&utm_campaign=ShoppingUK&vat=on&currency=GBP&gclid=CMGrqvLJp8QCFdLKtAodzVkAxg

32
Speedhunters_Bryn

Hun'er MANtz You should go to Birmingham, you'd love it :)

33
Speedhunters_Bryn

Ice Age Haha, you want to live in Craig's workshop? It does look romantic in some of the pics, the reality is somewhat different :)

34
Speedhunters_Bryn

Tasos Papazachariou Such a good design right? Over 25yrs old and still feels fresh.

35
Speedhunters_Bryn

Smiggins Play nice ;)

36
Speedhunters_Bryn

Austinallagro That's an idea :)

37
Speedhunters_Bryn

jdmRob They really are, Craig had them retrimmed to his own taste to match the interior.

38
Speedhunters_Bryn

tbtstt Yup, rumbled. When you've got access to a private industrial estate, why go elsewhere? :)

39
Speedhunters_Bryn

@that dude It's not that kind of build, there are a lot of other chassis stiffening mods going on, plus this is a road car. How would the kids get in the back to go to school?

40
Speedhunters_Bryn

SRT FTW So do we :0

41
Speedhunters_Bryn

D1RGE Thank you :)

42
Speedhunters_Bryn

Shaun Wilmer Yes he is, I like the way nothing is a problem.

43
Speedhunters_Bryn

Jaemcius Thank you for commenting, I like your style!

44
Speedhunters_Bryn

PolyMEDrummer We like to mix up the way we present stories, sometimes the story lends itself to this way of doing things. I prefer to get more of a back story so you can understand more about the finished car, glad you like it! 

And yes, the car is totally what I'd want too.

45
Speedhunters_Bryn

AdamBezzegh Very kind, but we've got a way to go yet ;)

46
Speedhunters_Bryn

MishKonn It wouldn't surprise me if that was the plan!

47
Tasos Papazachariou

Speedhunters_Bryn Oh totally!

48

Speedhunters_Bryn Hun'er MANtz ill have to visit sometime, a little adventure would do nicely

49

Great write up bryn, i remember when in either street machine or custom car were full of v8 swaps.
A great bit of insight to the history of the car and owner.
What does it do to the gallon?????LOL.

50

The lighting in the top photo is insane. Did you use a soft filter? It looks like something out of a movie. Great shot.

51

Does anyone here know the bore and stroke size of this thing by chance?

52

Oh come on! I doubt you can go higher. This car is seriously insane. you gotta love sleepers.

53

Speedhunters_Bryn Ice Age Well, no doubt, but I'd want to do up a nice, civilized living area off in a corner - you know, convert the offices into an apartment.

Something out of the Victorian Age, with hardwood, green glass lampshades, bookcases lining the walls and Oriental rugs.

50,000 square feet of concrete floor with 20 foot ceilings and 221B Baker Street in the back.

You can't tell me that wouldn't be awesome.

54
Speedhunters_Bryn

Wirenfeldt Jr Craig would be the best person to answer that question, I genuinely don't know if it's something he with held on purpose, or simply forgot to specify.

55
Speedhunters_Bryn

bluestreaksti Thank you :) No filter, aside from a polariser. It just so happened the light was spilling my way, I under exposed the shot and then pushed it a few stops up which gives it that hazy feel.

56
Speedhunters_Bryn

turbom Everybody should have a V8! I think the mpg is actually not that bad in general use, it's actually very driveable as you can see from the slow speed in the video :)

57

Speedhunters_Bryn Wirenfeldt Jr In the grand scheme of things the bore and stroke hardly matters on a spec list. But i was curious, as i would love to take a stab at recreating the engine in Automation.. If you should happen to stumble upon the figures do let me know, otherwise disregard. Fantastic writing, photography and unreal piece of kit on display though.. Props

58

The last shot before the bonus images is just gorgeous.

Great article too, I really enjoyed reading it, and that RX7 is mad clean!

59

Don't hate , get a v8

60

yay for sound clip

61

sporty! smooth! shiny! suave!

62

that's one beautiful monster.  :)

63
Speedhunters_Bryn

LauriLeesmaa Got to love some moving pictures!

64
Speedhunters_Bryn

QD Thank you, I got lucky with the light and made the most of it!

65
Speedhunters_Bryn

Ice Age You're right I can't. Just like if Captain Nemo build bad ass cars :)

66

those garage shots are just awesome Bryn!

67

thank you speedhunters!
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signature : http://www.jogosdofrivonline.com.br/ | http://www.jogosdofrivonline.com/

68
waltermydoinhere

Nice ride...   Please define "Superbike".   :-)

69

Nice car, looks like rainbow to my eyes

70
Speedhunters_Bryn

@waltermydoinhere Craig references an R1 and others in the text, production standard, bit of a tune maybe.

71
Speedhunters_Bryn

azmedaj Thanks!

72

Only reason I clicked on this is because the Tags were : FD3S mazda twin turbo rx7....?
Post a comment without being disrespectful ok.
Well to some of us diehard rotary owners, removing the rotary engine that this car came from the factory with is what we call disrespectful
Yeah sure, each to their own but this is now a totally different car. No rotary sound - how weird. This owner seems confused to me. A 15yr build and throws a v8 in a Mazda, why because they handle better ? Doesn't make any sense this conversion.
I will always love the Rx7, but not without a Rotary in it sorry to say. (Not everyone is going to agree)
It doesn't sound like anyone commenting here actually owns one either! None of my fellow rotary friends like v8's yet 99% of these comments do.
The motor in my first Series 6 Rx7 ran for 10yrs!
That's outdone some v8's I know of by a few years.
Awesome photos btw U0001f44d

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The main reason why you buy an RX7 it's because of its rotary engine... so I agree with Letzgo, this is build is kinda weird to me... Alright it's been build to very high quality standards and looks superb, hands down to the guy, but I still feel kinda unconfortable with the engine choice.

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I remember a V8 swapped RX-7 near me in Lancashire about 10 years ago and my Dad telling me there's a guy in Birmingham that does the V8 swaps. It's gotta be this guy! 

Would love to have a ride in that thing, looks immense!!

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It's a pity he didn't drive it with the stock motor first, he would never have put a V8 in it imo

it'd now be much prettier with probably a TT quad rotor making just as much power...

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Letzgo Rotary I agree, if he'd driven it with the rotor first, he'd probably never have gone V8

if you want big power in an RX-7, add more rotors.. 20b or 26b, more boost and you'll still annihilate 1000hp.

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Wow this V8 make a Thunder sound !

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I like it, we do a lot of this kind of thing here in NZ but more often the other way round. Seems meant for sraight line speed but I wonder if the handling is OK compared to the 13b style build?

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Letzgo Rotary I agree, I clicked on this hoping to see a 3 rotor twin turbo or something similar.  Having a 94 rx7 I wouldnt be able to replace the engine in this car with a v8.  Instead I bought an S14 to throw a beastly v8 into.

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Can anyone tell me about the headlights? Thanks from North Carolina

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pricenc Flush-Fit HID kit, check out the spec list, before the bonus images

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pricenc Flush-Fit HID kit, check out the spec list, before the bonus images

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@Cole pricenc Is that the brand name or can you tell me what company makes them

84

Flinchy read the article, he's not a JDM fan, he bought the car only for the size of the engine bay and tranny tunnel

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Letzgo Rotary He bought it for the looks and the size of the Engine bay and tranny tunnel, he's not a JDM guy, article clearly states it....

86

Ice Age I disagree, just like with any engine, treat it right and it will last

87

Nice build, great photos but the v8 sound just doesn't suit the Mazda's looks.

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