He had just parked his clean-looking FD3S Mazda RX-7, and with my interest piqued, I decided to introduce myself and find out a little more about it. Petri told me about some of the adventures he’s had with this project, and that backstory coupled with how good it looks had me scrambling to get a photoshoot done then and there.
Both of us weren’t local to the area, but a big empty space right around the corner seemed like the ideal location to park the car and point my camera at it. As we got a little closer, though, it became apparent that the place was actually a fire station.
That fact aside, we started shooting, but soon enough a gate opened and someone from inside the fire station came out to talk to us. At this point I was certain we were going to be asked to leave the premises, but the man had actually come outside to check out the car.
So as Petri and his new friend chatted away, I got back to work.
Petri has had an interest in tuned cars his whole life, but the RX-7 is his first big project. Prior to this build he drove a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, but the lure of a Mazda rotary was eventually too great to ignore, and in 2014 he purchased this 1993 example in stock-standard condition.
The FD3S was driven this way for a while, but a blown apex seal on Petri’s birthday eventually saw it taken off the road. In any other place in the world where Mazda RX-7s are popular, I’m sure it would have been a straightforward fix, but here in this part of Europe, rotary specialists are few and far between. So Petri did what any other crazed Scandinavian car guy would do – he jumped straight into the rebuild himself.
It took two years for the RX-7 to re-emerge from the garage, but when it did it was running a fresh street-port 13B. Furthermore, the factory twin-turbos had been swapped for a single Turbonetics T66, the fuel and cooling systems had been upgraded, the engine bay had been cleaned right up, and the car’s interior had also been given a refresh. Petri had his fingers crossed during the first test drive in summer 2017, but luckily everything worked fine.
Summers are short in Scandinavia, and before Petri knew it winter had rolled around, which meant taking the car off the road and getting back on the tools. This time he addressed the bodywork, fixing up any imperfections and fitting a ’99-spec front bumper and side skirt under-boards, before having the RX-7 resprayed in custom Toyota 343-based color. For contrast against the metallic red paint a carbon fiber bonnet was also fitted, as were custom headlights.
Confident in the Mazda’s abilities, when Petri brought the car back out in summer 2018, he did so with speed aspirations in mind. After massaging 450hp and 530Nm from the engine on the dyno with 1.4bar (20.5psi) boost dialed in, the car was run at a one-mile event where it achieved 272km/h on the rev limiter, well before the end of the timed section.
During the past winter, Petri brought the car up to the specification you see it in now. All of the aluminum parts in the engine bay were polished, and an electro-hydraulic power steering pump from a Vauxhall was installed. Work Meister S1 3-piece wheels (18×9.5-inch in the front and 18×10-inch in the rear) were sourced from Japan and fully refurbished.
The interior now looks like that of a much newer sports car. There are Sabelt Monte Carlo seats with 6-point Willans harnesses, a suede-wrapped Nardi Personal steering wheel, flocked console, and a 7-inch screen connected to a tiny Raspberry Pi computer hidden in the glovebox to replace all the original gauges. The computer has Powertune software installed, but in order for it to work, Petri needed to make a new circuit board to convert the speedometer signal from the ECU since the OEM cluster was removed. This would be an impossible job for many, but it’s not a problem for Petri, who by day is an electrical automation specialist.
The back seat was also ditched and a rear seat cover has been fitted. The latter has a bit of history, as it came from the ‘Crispeed V8 Kila’ RX-7 – a car any rotary fan should be familiar with from the early days of YouTube.
Although it’s a complete build, Petri has more plans for the car. Another engine build (using a spare motor) is underway, and eventually the RX-7 will run air suspension and a new engine management system. He’d also like to add a rear diffuser and a modest spoiler, taking cues from Mazda’s Spirit R version of the car.
What’s certain is that he’ll remain in love with the stock body lines and smell of 2-stroke premix for many years to come.