What's In your Garage?

May’s submission comes with some great shots and a write up from High Octane’s own all-star photographer, Mike M.

You have probably seen and heard Mike’s RX-7 at one of High Octane’s Saturday Morning Car Shows. It is a great car with an equally great story.

Mike Submits…..

 Year:    1994

Make:    Mazda          

Model:  FD3S RX-7 with Chevy LS3/T56 Retrofit

Length of Ownership:  1 year

What made you decide you needed a car like this one?

Having owned a 93 RX-7 for quite some time during the 90’s I fell in love with the styling and Performance that I couldn’t get out of my blood. I hated the unreliability of the Rotary engine when modified so this seemed like the most logical choice if ever I were to go back to an RX-7. I could not resist.

 What Condition was it in when purchased?

 The car had already been fitted with a new LS3 Crate motor and a used T56 Trans from an F-body Camaro (98-02). It was running and driving but had some electrical issues from some shoddy 20 year old harness that had been spliced into for the swap including aftermarket stereo and alarm systems.

The body and paint are original and are in need of a refresh. Rear tires were bald, brakes shot and original carpet and seats had seen better days. The car came from California and was a bit rougher then I had anticipated. It had a bad control arm and the exhaust was not finished.

 What have you done/ had done to it?

 Anticipating the cars arrival I had purchased a roll bar, set of wheels for race tires and a pair of Carbon Kevlar Recaro seats among other items.

 After arriving I pulled out the interior installed the roll bar, new black carpet to replace the “sad” tan carpet. I pulled the beat tan 20 year old leather seats and installed the new special Red Recaro’s made specifically after the ones that came on a limited edition “Spirit R” model RX-7 only available in 2002 overseas; which look stellar I might add. I’ve finished the exhaust, replaced control arms, water pump, added A/C and added heat shielding and replaced trans mount among many other items.

 A 20 year old car like this is always a work in progress. There are always things that need attention or replacement to both sort out and refine the Engine and Driveline Retrofit or just to freshen up 20 years of use and punishment on the rest of the car.

 Thankfully there is a large community of folks who support these swaps with strong and talented innovative, experienced owners and vendors who are helping to get the car to its potential. I will have Air conditioning in this car this summer due to such a person I met through the Norotors.com Forum by the user name “Halfspec”..

 A Swapped RX-7 owner himself and an Electrical Engineer by trade he has built a wonderful interface so the Mazda Aircon Controls and wiring will work with a GM compressor and ECU safely and correctly with RPM cut offs, fan controls and the like.

 Any future plans for the car?

 Intentions from the beginning have always been for this car to see the track on a regular basis. The race bred chassis fitted with a near 500HP off the shelf reliable N/A Chevy LS3 engine is a force to be reckoned with. I want to also freshen up the body and paint issues, add bigger brakes and an Ohlins Suspension. Possibly a Cam for that motor even though it doesn’t lack for power can you really ever have enough HP?

  Anything you want us to know about this car?

 The most asked question to RX-7 owners that do these swaps is “Why not just buy a Vette”? Well I guess I like to be different. I happen to like the performance of the Corvette but I like the smaller lighter RX-7 and having raced them previously I knew how to work on them and what to expect for the most part (a swapped car will nickel and dime you to death though).

There is something to be said for a 2800 lb car with near 500HP. It is a visceral experience you do not get except from the higher modified Corvettes out there.

 If not this car, what would you own?

Now after actually owning an engine swapped car I can say I miss some of the refinement of a turnkey car that may give similar performance as my RX-7.  Cars with incredible performance and potential for modifications to bring them to the highest performance levels; 1 car stands out for me. It is a car I am looking to purchase in the next few years, the Porsche 997 Turbo. That car really seems to have it all. For the money you can spend modifying a car you could have something reliable and fast in the Porsche. They can also be modified to make north of 1000hp which is just amazing to me.

 Now it's your turn... 

We’d like to hear from you. Tell us about what have in your garage and what you are working on. Send us an email at highoctanesj@gmail.com , follow the format that was used in this month’s contribution and we will help you spread the word on…What’s in you garage?


Chris S.