They say you can’t go home again. This is a lie. Home is a relative term that invokes a sense of nostalgia. It’s comforting and familiar. In the summer of 2016, an overwhelming since of nostalgia hit me. I had moved to Phoenix Arizona and began to get back into performance cars. Mistakenly, I thought that I should get something more refined. That it was time to move up the food chain yet again. I was wrong.
The car I had chosen was a late model water-cooled Porsche 911 Turbo. I have always loved Porsches. They have a quirky design yet put their money where their mouth is when it comes to the track. It was an amazing car. The problem? I liked it but I didn’t love it. I probably should have gotten a GT3 instead but that was beyond my price range at the time. The Turbo felt too refined for my taste. It was lacking that raw and visceral feel that I had with my old RX-7. I felt disconnected from it at times.
It finally came to a point where I knew that my relationship with the car was not going to work. I was spending a lot of money on something that I didn’t truly love. It was time to put a plan into place to move on. The problem was that nothing else in the market really tempted me the way that the 3rd generation RX-7 did. Its looks are near timeless both externally and internally. It’s from an era when everything wasn’t a wedge and people still loved small, light cars. It was time to go back.
Around October of the same year, everything seemed to come together at once. I found a buyer for the 911 and a FD that suited my plans for the build. The car had already started to be swapped for a 4.8 twin turbo build and had a ton of work done to the suspension. The bonus was that I negotiated for a disassembled LS3 to be included with the price.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
One of the things that I had learned from my previous builds is that you absolutely have to have a plan/vision for the car. Throwing parts at a car without some idea of what you want it to do only leads to frustration and disappointment.
My goal for this car was to have a good looking and streetable car while also being able to do HPDE now and again. With that in mind, I decided that it should have enough power to be fun, be as reliable as I could make it, and put the rest of the focus on the suspension. As far as looks went, I wanted to only accent the stock lines of the car rather than pile on aero bits.
A Black Beauty on Black Friday
With all of the negotiations done, I came into ownership of my new RX-7. After the seller and I arranged shipping, it was on its way. It just so happened that I was able to have it dropped off the day after Thanksgiving. While everyone one else was fighting each other for low price Christmas presents, I was opening one of mine early. When the car started up inside of the trailer, it sounded like a thunderclap. I nearly danced for joy as I saw it roll out the back and down the ramp.
The paint on the car was in a bad way but that was fine. I had planned to have it fully resprayed anyway. As the driver rolled the car down the ramp and parked it, I took a mental inventory of all that it came with. It was a 1993 Brilliant Black base model sitting atop Fiskse FM5 wheels and Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 rubber. The previous owner had restored all of the suspension components to near-new condition. He had also replaced the worn stock bushings with polyurethane alternatives and had the arms tapped for zerk fittings for easy access. The disassembled LS3 had been boxed up in the trunk while its driveline mates, a Tremec Magnum transmission and Ford Cobra 8.8 rear end (IRS), were already installed on the car. Inside, much of the interior had also been redone in alcantara by ESH upholstering. The car was still unfinished but I was able to see how it would be morphing into my vision.
No Rest for The Wicked
Since that winter in Arizona is basically Fall anywhere else in the country, it’s the perfect time for working on your car. I drove the 7 from the truck right to my garage where it immediately went up on jack stands to begin its transformation.
The initial plan was to get the LS3 to my engine builder as quickly as possible and then remove the old 4.8 setup and interior while the engine was being built. After having numerous great recommendations, I entrusted the new heart of my car to Andy Holleman in Prescot AZ. He was even nice enough to stop by my place to pick up the engine in person. We talked for a bit and I explained to him that my goal for the motor was. I wanted keep the power limited to near stock for right now while I learned the car but to focus on reliability and oil flow.
With the engine now in good hands, it was time to begin pulling everything in part to get her ready for her new life.
Make sure to check back often to follow the build of my Blackbird RX-7.
Special Thanks To