FC RX-7: NA Or Turbo?

Which will it be?

These two FC3S Mazda RX-7s that were on display at Wekfest Japan got me thinking. The Wankel engine, by nature, is a beautifully modular piece of engineering, offered in two, three, or even custom built to quad-rotor setups and beyond.

Then, they can either be left to spin and function in a naturally aspirated form or force fed for higher power. While you may think that choosing the turbo variant is a no brainer, there are a lot of rotor-heads out there that prefer the simplicity and outright unique character of an atmospheric rotary.

Power isn’t always the most important thing.


So, let’s start with the more powerful alternative, executed beautifully on this Level One Japan FC. Had the hood not been taken off you could quite happily walk past this car and just assume it’s a very clean and well-looked-after example, sitting on some period correct rims.


The truth is, a ton of work went into making the engine not only develop considerably more power than stock, but also to show off a level of fabrication that the whole Japan scene seems to be jumping on as of late. That includes tubbed fenders, considerable shaving and wire tucking, and then a few coats of the same jade hue used on the exterior of the car. The 13B is fully rebuilt and running a Trust TD06-25G turbocharger, custom mounted horizontal intercooler and a V-mounted radiator beneath it. That’s good for a nice 450hp depending on tune.


Autostrada Modena five-spoke wheels are a great addition to the ’80s design, and the way the stance has been set up gives emphasis to this.


Some suspension arm upgrades have ensured that there’s no excessive negative camber, meaning the car can be used and driven on smooth Japanese roads as is, with an obvious disclaimer of course as even Japanese roads can be far from perfect.


Now, have a look at this naturally aspirated take on the FC3S and have a think about which approach ticks the most boxes for you. This is going to be a close one, believe me.


The looks are even more simple on this car; it’s all stock right down to the front bumper, white paint and Panasport G7 ST5s wheels with off-white centers and polished lips. Look behind the spokes and you’ll find Toyota Celsior calipers, large 4-pots designed to haul a massive luxury sedan to a stop, so you can just imagine how effective they are on a light FC like this.


Blistered and cut fenders really enhance the curves of the the car’s 30-year-old design, especially at the rear.


The engine bay is also wire-tucked and smoothed out, but not tubbed. At its heart is a side-ported 13B running high compression rotors and a twin throttle body setup. A lot of custom work was required to make it all work, like the intake with the unfiltered velocity stacks, the exhaust manifold and the exhaust itself.


The engine also runs an electric water pump and electric power steering which helps get rid of complexity and keeps things even cleaner in the bay.


The radiator is equipped with two massive electric fans to keep the whole setup from overheating, something rotaries are rather good at.


So what will it be – the adrenaline-inducing surge of turbo power, or the spine-tingling sound of an NA side-ported 13B screaming away at 10,000rpm?

Choose your FC.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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There's no particular right answer for me. I've personally gone the turbocharged route in search of power, but there's nothing like a Bridgeport NA 13B. Also NA rotaries tend to last longer.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Define "longer" lol


Properly maintained NAs can last 250k. A properly maintained Turbo will last around 175k


I got almost 350k out of my properly maintained NA.


Interested in what's involved in your 'properly maintained'.
Cause it can't be as bad as the internet stories say like rebuild every 40,000 kms...?
I'm inclined to think it's because people don't monitor their oil.


Yea I regularly changed the oil every 3000 kms with full synthetic Mobil 1, and I changed the plugs every 20,000 kms too. Also changed the air filter every second oil change and the coolant every 10-12 months. Never had a problem until my oil pan caught on a speedbump and decided it felt like that's where it wanted to live from now on. Decided to upgrade to a single turbo 13B-REW and haven't looked back.

Catman Begins

He’s right. Synthetic oils are actually the better option...contrary to (previous) popular belief.
I bought an 1988 NA that ran perfectly @ +125k. It was never rebuilt, passed smog, etc...and still soared effortlessly to redline.

I believe they got a bad reputation because people in the US tend to procrastinate on oil changes with NON-rotary cars. To ask them to continuously monitor and maintain oil levels in a rotary that uses oil during the combustion process was wishful thinking...at best.


Best engine for a fc is a 1j. I reckon Wide body and big wheels for a track/drift car and nice clean stock body s5 for a street car

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Will it fit?


Mine fits like a glove man. Vmount and all. Only 1.5 cylinders in front of the strut towers.


I owned a N/A fc3s 1994 model. No power steering, no airbags, just mad revs and balanced chassis. Best car I ever had. Pure driving engagement.


FCs ended in 1992 (and those were just the last of the 1991 models)


Quite right RX7-life.
I don`t know why I put 1994. I think my Hi Lux was a 94 model. The FC was actually a 1987 on a D reg (uk).
Still a great car which I wish i still owned. They feel so good to drive on a twisty road.


The FC is just so good, encapsulates the glory of the 80s whilst still looking relatively contemporary. Add another car to the ever growing list.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah tell me about it. I've always had a thing for this generation of the 7, even more so than the FD. I'd take mine simple but functional, rebuilt from the ground up, strengthened, proper suspension, geometry & brakes, and a 20B turbo mated to a sequential. Is that really too much to ask?

Catman Begins

Sounds like a good recipe.
Stock chassis isn’t bad for an eighties car, suspension is fairly capable, brakes are terrible...add a 20B.......
and yeah, definitely upgrade those brakes.


I want to see more FCs on here


Just make sure you get rid of the rear steer. These were far from perfect cars from the factory

Dewade Wilson

looks perfect for an LS swap


I have experienced all forms in an FC ( including LS). Fact of the matter is this chassis is wonderful and any engine will not take away from the "feel" of this car.

In this scenario: NA 20b or PP13b


You know what looks even better for an LS? A Corvette/Camaro where they're supposed to be!

Catman Begins

Nah, Corvettes aren’t that great for the prices they command (until the C7) and the Camaros didn’t have independent rear suspensions for literally decades.

I’ve owned Camaros and while they do have a certain panache...none of it translates into the twisties.

RX-7 with an LS swap basically purges the Neanderthal from an otherwise good idea.


Oh really? I thought that generation C6 was also quite good, and these don't command that much appart from the ZR-1. Well anyway thanks for enlighting me ;)


You've gone full retard. You don't ever go full retard.


Just kidding, those points may be true be an NA FC is just so much better


That's what I was thinking.. less weight, more torque and better weight distribution.


Problem is heat and noise.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You didn't just say that ...


Haha Yeah Dino! Im soo gonna act like i didnt just hear a Ls Swap .....

phantom2468 .

I own a 92 FD but these are awesome rides. I had a friend import his to Florida. But if I were to have one it would have to be in a turbo configuration. But no LS swap. If I had to have a swap I would do something like a JZ or RB or an SR.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Good man. I'd go for a Barra swap. Somehow make it fit lol


The weight addition would be huge. Close to 120kg just in the short block. I would imagine alot of that weight would also be forward of the front axle.


Ecoboost 2.3 swap, or a cyclone 3.7! They are Mazda blocks after all.




Can I take the jade coloured one but with an atmo 20B PP?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Sure why not, just curious to hear everyone's dream set ups :)


I miss mine. I need to get another one. Turbo for sure with semi-pp and alcohol!


The hot ticket is a naturally aspirated rotary with a peripheral port and some other trick bits in the lightest thing you can get. The 787b was NA don't forget. Hey, it's almost like those engineers with millions of dollars to r&d the best way to build a race car were onto something...


As far as FC's go, I prefer NA. Keep it as light, pure, and simple as possible. I could never have anything but a 13b turbo in an FD tho


Couldn't have said it better myself. I would dare to go 20B NA in the white FC with a similar setup, but that's about it. What a perfect way to enhance the original design. Props to both owners, they are competing for perfection.


Just make it rev and everyone will be happy, with or without the "whistle".
If seeking power, you'll end up going in the turbo way. If seeking peace of mind capable cruising keep it NA. That's my logic for all kind of engines (with the current affordable technology).

Stephen Masters

Great to see over fenders done properly and smoothed into the rear instead of just being tek screwed on.


What brand fenders are they? My fc could use some. I got more power than grip and need to go wide

Graeme daily_dose27

No Man Dino..how the hell must we choose as for me the fc is the best looking rx7...hmm yea will be the white one...nope no the turbo one yes..nope i give up.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Both. Painful, but simple:)


In this particular case I would choose the white one, it just oozes character in all the right ways. Having said that, the turbo one is also easily a dream car. Wow to both.


Having a single turbo FD already, I'd love an FB or FC with a full mechanical setup; carbs, distributor/magneto ignition, mechanical fuel pump... Just for the novelty of having a car with no computers in it at all.

Catman Begins

You would think so until you went out to the canyons. Your fuel injected setup is much more predictable in situations with high G-loads and elevation changes.

I don’t think I’d ever go back to carbs. I get the nostalgia, but I like to DRIVE.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

That would make sense, best of both worlds


I would choose the NA one. I got really excited when I saw the first engine bay pic, I was hope it was an old school NA carb setup, but the EFI dual throttle bodies are cool too.

The electric water pump makes me drool.

I spy a Racing Beat oil fill cap on there. LOL! Even in Japan they use Racing Beat!

Not a huge fan of FCs but at least these don't look like drift beaters, very clean executions on both.

Brennan McKissick

NA 4 lyf. I love the way they sound and how high they rev.

Andrew Cowden

I drove a friend of mines NA with a dual weber carb at an auto-x. Man was that car fun. The best part is when I was told, "you don't have to shift until 12k". Almost traded my AE86 for a TurboII not soon after.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

12k?? Damn

Andrew Cowden

Yup. It was a ported motor (small bridge I think) with just the Weber and ignition box. 10-11k was the shift light setting.


I ran a built N/A in my FC street racecar, so I'm all for that white one. The turbo has been built beautifully, kudos to both cars.

Eric Asuncion

If I really had to choose, I'd choose the Turbo version for an FC. Though I would love to have a 13B Renesis in my NB8C.


What brand fenders are they?


I had a turbo 2 cab and it was one the most fun cars to drive but i always wondered how good it would have sounded with the top down on the back road n/a at 10k+

Jack Robinson

I'd go NA all day! Can't beat that high rev soundtrack


I've never even driven a rotory so I don't know which one I'd rather have. Maybe the Turbo. Owning an rx7 is on my bucket list but which one of all the rx7s? Dang it! Hopefully I can go full Leno and own a few.