Sunday, January 3, 2016

V8 Swap: 1986 Mazda RX-7

Another day, another V8 powered Mazda RX-7 -- it isn't that rotary engines are somehow not as good as a standard reciprocating piston engine, it is just that if you want to make 300 horsepower to the wheels, the cheapest way is usually with a domestic V8, even if it requires a total transformation of the engine bay.  Find this 1986 Mazda RX-7 offered for $2,500 in Topeka, KS via craigslist.

The second (technically third) generation (FC) Mazda RX-7 debuted in 1986 with new streamlined styling and more power from the available Wankel rotary engines.  For the first time in the US market, a turbocharged version was available, but the chassis featured the same fantastic reflexes and sporty seating.

Under the hood in this RX-7 is a Ford 5.0/302 from an Explorer that has been fitted with GT40 heads, a big intake, aftermarket carb, distributor -- all the basic things you need to make 350 horsepower from a Ford small block V8.  It does need to be finished, but for the current asking price this doesn't look like a bad deal.

 See another Mazda project car for cheap?


  1. I know guys who go a long way down the road of RX7 V8 conversions and they get to a point and go "Sheesh, I coulda had a C5".

    They can work well and there's all kinds of parts out there to do it right, Ford 8.8 rearend conversions and etc. But 'right' and 'RX7 with a Holley sticking through the hood' are members of disjoint sets.

  2. I can fix this.
    Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.

  3. I just get the feeling you'd need to completely disassemble this and start from scratch. Hopefully, you end up able to use most of the set of parts you get, without too many modifications!!

  4. I just get the feeling you'd need to completely disassemble this and start from scratch. Hopefully, you end up able to use most of the set of parts you get, without too many modifications!!

  5. Mullet and hacksaw required for this beauty.

  6. My theory about keeping expectations low at the start of the new year is looking validated today. The Accord bendable pickup set the tone and these beauts keep er' rollin.

    Did you guys look at old George W. videos to catch the vibe of lowered expectations?

    The Renault would be good for a forensic ownership experience. It is actually really cool to see the state of engineering through various periods.

    Take a look at an late 50's SAAB 92 and there is very little that was copied from other cars, and very little that was used by other cars later on. The same is true for many in the import wave of the 50's. Each little bucket o' bolts was a tour de' force of following one's own drummer.

    Obviously the mid-size sedans of today don't follow that credo. I honestly can't tell one from another. They are all guilty of having the 95% of the same lines and details.

    The contest to see who can create the most hideous gaping maw is reaching new lows, to wit, Maxima and Honda Civic. Just stack plastic shit up and bingo!

    1. Actually, much of what went into the Saab 92 in terms of chassis engineering went into the 93, and the 95/96, and the 99...

      And this Renault was, in mechanical layout, much like the Hillman Imp and two decades of Fiats. Renault themselves were rather schizo, they couldn't decide whether they wanted to build stuff like this or fat-2CVs like the Renault 4.

      But yeah, we have since the '70s gradually settled down to a few basic platform approaches that almost everyone does the same way, then they stack their sheetmetal on top (these days, mostly ugly) and send it to market.

      GM from the '40s into the '60s built a whole bunch of mechanically varied and often innovative (and sometimes trooublesome) product, and made them (almost) all attractive. Now you can't tell a Toyota drivetrain from a Hyundai or that of a Korean-designed GM product, and the VW is only a little different, and it's rare when any of them looks good. We have reliably hideous cars.

      You have the occasional oddities - well, Honda's fours don't spin the wrong way any more, Subaru's still using flat motors, and the new little Renault Twingo and Smart ForFour are basically mildly-differentiated twins, Fiat 500-size four-door hatchbacks sharing a rear-engine platform.

    2. Tom -- I don't know what it is, but when I see something with an El Camino'd rear or a V8 shoved where it don't belong, I start to see stars and floating things and just wanna write about it!! It could be something in the air, or it could be the open can of lacquer thinner in my desk drawer. Either way, just wait till you see the 2pm listing! And you thought expectations couldn't get any lower!!


  7. Hey Vince, I am big fan of youz guys and am in for the ride as you descend to probe the depths!

    Watch out for the bends if you find yourself wanting to post a pristine Volvo 123GT,for instance.

    It might be interesting to ask for suggestions from readers to identify the geographical location with the most shit cars per capita. My vote is Florida, anywhere more than a half mile in from the water. Rust, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, and old people accidents can make even the nicest 83 Town Car look like hell. :) I went there once and the crap cars were among the few items on the PRO list. Texas needs careful review as well. The winner gets their own can of lacquer thinner. Peace. Tom

    1. Tom,
      Yes! We need more of these kind of contests. Personally, I think that the Central Los Angeles craigslist is the best place to get mugged and robbed of your internal organs, but perhaps I'm just jaded because it is nearby!!

      Perhaps a recurring, WORST CAR OF THE WEEK feature? But, I dunno about giving away lacquer thinner...that stuff is expensive!!


      P.S. I didn't think they ever made the Volvo 123GT in pristine?

    2. Yes, "pristine" is a pale yellow-greenish, post-bronchitis hue.

      Just piss in an empty lacquer container. It will just be an honor to be bestowed with the prize representing an august achievement.

      Also, parts of the South Bronx are where you go to view a CL ad, and they take your car instead. No negotiating.

      Most people who show up looking at cars there don't have internal organs worth harvesting. Thus, Central LA is probably higher class than mine.

      Guess I win that can of piss in the lacquer thinner can.


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