Saturday, June 18, 2016

Broken Dorito: RX-7 Convertible Race Car Project

by Adam -- Without an engine this RX-7 is the chance to build the convertible race car you have wanted but could not afford. With a race coming up this Saturday and Sunday here's your chance, if you hurry, to make your own LMP2 car. The car has some of the heavy lifting done, but with the engine removed and LMP2 requirements of requiring the use of production based engines that one off, two stroke, opposed flat twelve you designed will just need to wait. Wide body kit already fitted and much of the fabrication started the seller notes some re-welding may needed. Pick your livery, decide what will power the Mazda shell, get it done before Saturday, and start at the back of the grid. What could be easier? The seller intended to build a track monster, but his loss is your gain, so once finished you can be a monster on the track. Whether you try to enter this in Lemons, Le Mans, your local track, or decide to annoy the old fogies in charge of the home owners’ association with your straight pipes you can find this 1988 Mazda RX-7 in Lynchburg, Virginia  for $1,200.00

From the seller this is a FC car and the convertibles started production in 1988 until 1991. The Wankel rotary engines which powered the front mid-engine RX-7 came available with naturally aspirated fuel injected or turbo charged engine producing between 150 hp and 215 hp. With wide body kit in place and the camber plates bolted in and ready for adjustment the seller made it part way down the path. The manual steering rack could be fun in a car this light if finished correctly. Photos of the body show it to be relatively rust free, but are not close up so on-site inspection would be a must. Any potential buyer should triple check that roll bar and make sure of compliance with any sanctioning body for the series you are considering. Looks a little small and does not appear that it would pass tech inspection in France no matter which language you speak, but again caveat emptor.

The engine bay is indeed bare. An RX-7 missing the Doritos shaped rotor is no RX-7. Call this what you want, and it may have started life as an RX-7, but is no longer the Mazda we know and love. This leaves a clean engine bay for an LS1 swap, Ford power, some sort of newer turbocharged small displacement engine or better yet use that Wright R-975 Whirlwind nine cylinder air-cooled radial aircraft engine you have been saving for a special occasion. More radials of this type were used in armored vehicles than airplanes anyway and can put out up to 550 hp while having that chest thumping sound. While it may hamper visibility up front the cool factor would be off the chart. Hey, if it was good enough to make the M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer the fastest armored vehicle in the world until the M1 Abrams it definitely needs to be considered. With a radial engine up front the goggles and scarf are mandatory. On second hand just pack a S4 naturally aspirated or turbocharged engine back in the way Akio Uchiyama intended. All will be right with the universe that way. Parts are easier to find and cheaper for a rotary than for a radial engine anyway.  

The interior is stripped as one would expect in a project car. A Kirkey70 series full containment racing seat is included, but at the pace I work the seat will be out of date before the car is ready to hit the track. Not much is needed in the way of comfort and LM P2 rules require a second seat but I think you will have a hard time convincing the wife that this can do double duty as a backup car to take the kids to school should your daily driver break down.

See a better way to build an imitation Le Mans car on a Daily Turismo budget?

A refugee from the frozen north who loves running and water sports, Adam can be found looking for the next slow car to drive fast when he has access to electronics he hasn't immersed in liquids. He is an analog kid, not a digital man.  

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