Mazda RX-7 LS1 Corvette Engine Swap Build


When maintained and working accurately, Mazda’s twin-turbocharged 13B-REW rotary engine that got here below the hood of the third-generation (FD) Mazda RX-7 has loads of benefits over your typical piston pushed engine, reminiscent of fewer shifting elements, a greater power-to-weight ratio, easy energy supply, and the next revving ceiling (to not point out they sound frickin’ superior). However some FD RX-7 homeowners have additionally skilled the distinctive Wankel engine’s, er, temperamental aspect, which was the case for Southern California’s John Ubalde.

Certainly, the automotive you see right here is not Ubalde’s first FD Mazda RX-7 however his second, and it is powered by an LS1 V-Eight engine out of a 2002 Chevy Corvette. Why? Nicely, let’s simply say his first construct did not fairly work out so effectively (see picture beneath).

He vowed to repurpose his subsequent FD challenge to be as dependable and avenue pleasant as doable, which meant forgoing the efficiency advantages and JDM coolness of Mazda’s 1.3-liter twin-turbo rotary for a extra reliable, naturally aspirated American-powered V-8.

Whereas an LS swap is frowned upon in some circles, that does not imply the automotive cannot nonetheless be spectacular in its personal proper. Actually, this is not the primary time an LS-swapped RX-7 has seen the highlight. Again in 2015, Tremendous Road featured a  450 hp LS1-powered RX-7 wearing one of the first Rocket Bunny FD body kits and Volk Racing ZE40 wheels. We just lately had an opportunity to meet up with Ubalde to speak about his private journey and newest RX-7 construct.

MotorTrend: Are you able to inform us about how you bought into modifying automobiles within the first place?

UBALDE: My father will all the time be my most important contributor to giving me the eagerness to work on and modify automobiles, from educating me to alter oil after I was 5 years previous to altering timing chains on our household Dodge Ram van. Plus, rising up within the ’80s the place TV reveals like Knight Rider, Road Hawk, Dukes of Hazzard, Transformers and films reminiscent of Mad Max, The Cannonball Run, The Wraith, Smokey and the Bandit, and Condorman have been simply highlighting lovely automobiles to gas my ardour much more.

MT: Taking it manner again! So, what was your first automotive?

UBALDE: Within the ’90s, I used to be into each domestics and imports. My first automotive in highschool was a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. I saved this automotive very clear and easy as a result of I knew I had greater plans to strive within the import scene. After I graduated highschool and through my time at SDSU (San Diego State College), I purchased a 1991 Nissan Twin Turbo 300ZX. This was one in all my dream automobiles to have subsequent to the RX-7, and this additionally led to my ardour with the ’90s JDM automotive scene.

MT: Your earlier RX-7 dates again greater than 10 years in the past…

UBALDE: My buddy, Jack, and I purchased the automotive again in mid-2008 throughout the monetary disaster. The automotive was modded some with a ’99-spec entrance and a few engine work, however total, the automotive nonetheless wanted work and we felt it wasn’t time to dive deep into it financially, so we put it into storage till issues acquired higher. I moved to the Philippines in 2009 and stayed there for couple of years (even acquired married there, too!). In 2011, after coming back from residing within the Philippines, Jack and I lastly felt it was time to take “Blue7,” as we known as it, out of storage.

We rebuilt the engine, did some physique work, new wheels, and in 2014 I fully took over the automotive and acquired my buddy’s half out. After slightly little bit of time, it began rising into an actual challenge/present automotive, with the main target of constructing it an attainable instance for different would-be FD3S homeowners. Then, in late 2018 I used to be taking Blue7 to a automotive present early within the morning when the ignition for one in all my rotors stopped firing, but the automotive was nonetheless pumping a ton of gas into the rotor. Mainly, a lot gas constructed up that it caught hearth below and on the rear of the automotive. Even with two extinguishers, it was very tough to achieve the areas below the automotive, so I needed to let her go.

MT: Sorry to listen to… Is that this a standard challenge with rotaries as I assumed it is often a seal challenge?

UBALDE: Rotary engines are considerably of a special monster if you do not know something about them. Apex seals are a method they fail, to not point out water seals, nook seals, unhealthy housings, and so forth… They only want slightly extra consideration than the conventional piston engine the place you may get serviced anyplace. The ignition going out resulting in a serious hearth just isn’t a standard theme, though fires nonetheless are fairly frequent for rotary homeowners. Many expertise engine bay fires as a consequence of defective gas pulsation dampeners that get previous over time amongst previous gas traces.

MT: I am guessing this influenced your resolution in going towards a rotary and towards one thing extra dependable subsequent time round?

UBALDE: Whereas I had the Blue7, a coworker of mine had a crimson LS-swapped RX-7 sitting outdoors of his residence for about eight years. I recall telling him years in the past that I’ll come to buy that crimson FD from him. The plan was to choose up a cleanly swapped LS model of the FD for lengthy distance cruising, however nonetheless have a rotary FD constructed for observe and present days. So my total plan was to have the Blue7 and “Phoenix7” (the automotive I’ve now) sitting within the storage collectively in concord. Sadly, the rotary gods had a special destiny for Blue7.

MT: A bummer, however fortunately you have been capable of decide up Phoenix7 after the incident to maintain the dream alive. What have you ever favored concerning the LS swap essentially the most?

UBALDE: The wonder concerning the LS is that it’s far more carefree in comparison with the final FD. Components and locations of service are plentiful. At my age, it is one thing I cherish as a result of having a household and different tasks makes having this automotive a godsend challenge in a manner.

MT: Why the LS1 particularly and may you elaborate extra on the engine spec?

UBALDE: The LS1 is from a really low mileage 2002 Corvette donor with lower than 20,000 miles on it. Hinson Supercars put the engine along with Patriot stage 2 ported and polished 706 5.3-liter heads. Giving the engine extra compression are improved springs and Ti retainers, and a gentle cam with ASP pulleys made the automotive higher for extra street-oriented driving. Taking a LS6 consumption manifold from a Z06 added straightforward horsepower, too. The one great thing about the LS1 is that it is all aluminum, so it is not as heavy as its different iron counterparts.

MT: I consider inventory, an LS1 makes 345hp on the crank… What’s your child do?

UBALDE: The automotive is placing down a dependable 415 whp and I will be placing the nitrous system again onto the automotive to get it to 500 whp. I am very pleased with the present setup and don’t see altering it anytime quickly until somebody needs to place a nicer engine in there for me!

MT: Are you able to elaborate extra on what makes this a avenue automotive as a result of it may simply be mistaken for a weekend present/observe automotive?

UBALDE: I wished to make it possible for this will likely be a snug and nearly worry-free automotive to personal with no complications after I make lengthy street journeys to Las Vegas or different locations. I made positive the A/C labored completely and energy steering is adjustable. The carbon-fiber seats match inside with none points, recline, and are comfy even for an eight-hour drive. I additionally selected the Reinhard Double Cannonball Ti exhaust to mate with the three.5-inch piping. This setup truly has a low rumble, so my neighbors preserve sane and do not complain—buying and selling energy for consolation and a extra worry-free and pleasing experience.

MT: The suspension can be chosen for its avenue traits as effectively, appropriate?

UBALDE: Sure, the Fortune Auto air piston elevate system is a godsend when going by way of bumps, inclines, declines or ramps. As an alternative of a bagged suspension, I wished one thing to nonetheless have the wonderful dealing with of a coilover system however capable of have the automotive experience at a pleasant top. Then, when wanted I can shortly increase the automotive as much as get round obstacles.  The system raises the automotive up about 4-inches.  This has truly saved all of the low hanging elements on the automotive many occasions.

MT: What shade was it initially?

UBALDE: This was initially an automated transmission Touring mannequin in Classic Purple. In the course of the swap and handbook conversion, the automotive was fully stripped and painted in 50th Anniversary Purple Metallic Sweet. It is a fantastic and vibrant shade!

UBALDE: I undoubtedly don’t need to lose this paint job, therefore why I went with a high quality wrap. When wrapped by an expert and skilled installer like Omnium Auto Styling, nearly everybody that sees the automotive truly thinks it’s a multi-stage paint job.

MT: The Blitz wheels are one in all my favourite adjustments you probably did. Why did you select this specific design?

UBALDE: The Blitz Kind-03 have been one in all my favourite wheels again within the late ’90s. I truly had one of many first units within the U.S. on my 300ZX! The Kind-03 is such an iconic ’90s period particular wheel meant for a ’90s JDM automotive. They have been discontinued within the early-2000s and it took me years to discover a excellent set. As soon as I discovered a set of 17s, I wished to make the wheel have the identical persona because the Phoenix7, up to date for the brand new millennia. My wheel builder “ChamorrowBoy86” gave it an up to date 2020 flare enlarging them to an 18-inch with step lips, gunmetal faces, black gold heart caps, and gold {hardware}.

1993 Mazda RX-7 LS1 Engine-Swap Specs

  • POWER: 415 whp; 380 lb-ft of torque
  • ENGINE: 5.3-liter GM Corvette Gen IV LS1 aluminum V-Eight engine constructed, put in and tuned by Hinson Supercars Alabama; Patriot 706 64cc stage 2 heads, 225/229 .580-in /.590-in 114+Four cam; ported and polished; 650-in elevate springs; titanium retainers; 2.02-in consumption valves; 1.57-in exhaust valves; Auto Specialties underdrive pulley; customized brief metal headers and consumption piping; MSD 8.8mm wires with jackets; LS6 consumption; Heidts adjustable energy steering valve; Walbro 255lph gas pump; Aeromotive gas stress regulator; LRB aluminum cooling panel; Howe Racing aluminum radiator; Volvo 740 electrical fan; 3.5-in exhaust piping; ReinHard Double Cannonball titanium exhaust
  • DRIVETRAIN: T56 six-speed transmission; Hinson Motorsports transmission and differential mounts, brief shifter; Cobra 8.Eight differential with 3.55 gears; Hurst Line Lock
  • FOOTWORK & CHASSIS: Fortune Auto 500 Collection coilovers with air piston elevate system and twin Viair 444C air compressors; adjustable tie rods; polyurethane bushings
  • BRAKES: Wilwood entrance large brakes with six-piston calipers and drilled/slotted two-piece rotors, stainless braided traces, proportioning valve, clutch cylinder; ABS delete
  • WHEELS & TIRES: 18×10.5-in Blitz BRW Kind-03 wheels with customized step lips and gold bolts; 225/40R18 entrance, 255/35R18 rear BFGoodrich Comp 2 tires
  • EXTERIOR: 1999-spec JDM entrance bumper and three-piece adjustable spoiler; MazdaSpeed carbon fiber entrance lip; LegSport carbon fiber canards and aspect deflectors; ODULA carbon fiber heart spoiler; RE Amemiya carbon fiber Professional rear diffuser; Shine Auto carbon fiber aspect skirt extensions; carbon fiber rear diffuser vortex turbines; Group A Motoring AD9 carbon fiber hood, broad entrance and rear fenders; AeroCatch flush hood pins; APR carbon fiber GT3 mirrors; CarShopGLOW V2 LED entrance flip indicators and V1 LED taillights; Griffith Racing tow hook; 50th Anniversary crimson metallic sweet paint; Avery Dennison Roaring Thunder vinyl wrap
  • INTERIOR: Procar Evolution carbon fiber seats; Sparco seat brackets and rails; Nardi Deep Corn 350mm steering wheel; Works Bell hub adapter; NRG quick-tilt system; weighted neochrome shift knob; aluminum useless pedal; Seibon customized carbon fiber door panels; carbon fiber heart console, HVAC body, gauge sprint body, triple gauge pod; Prosport Premium EVO 60mm digital gauges; Alpine ILX-W650 receiver, SPR-50C Kind R audio system

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