Operation 99

by BoyRotor | Photography by Dan Hollister

Article | Modifications

Modifying a Mazda RX7 FD3S is a long and often difficult operation. Because of the turbo rotary power plant, modifying out of sequence and on the cheap will most certainly spell doom. Time, money, and research definitely takes its toll on the more than exuberant journeyman. ”You can budget, plan and research all you want.“ explains Shuzi, ”Something always goes wrong. My best advice for anyone who wants to modify this car is find the right people to work with, use only the best parts, and be patient.“

It's not a secret that the FD3S comes with it’s share of problems. Fragile engine, mediocre cooling system, complex turbo system…the list goes on. ”I really had no idea what i was getting myself into.“ says Shuzi, who owns a 1993 Montego Blue Touring Edition RX7. ”I did A LOT of research before I purchased the car and really nothing can prepare you. You HAVE to love this car to own it.“

Despite it's problems, Mazda really had something special with the FD3S. The legions of tuners and forums are a testament to this. ”It's a great sports car. So nimble, so powerful.“ Shuzi says, ”I’d like to get two or three more of these if I get the opportunity.“ He admits that he really wasn’t a big car buff growing up. ”I always knew which cars were which but I really never cared what I drove. I’m a modest guy. I don’t like to show off and be flashy. So the car really doesn’t suit that side of me, but I do love to go fast.“

”My first FD, I purchased in South Carolina from an older lady,“ says Shuzi. ”It was already on it’s second engine but served to be a good test car. My friend had to drive it home for me! I didn’t even know manual at that time! I had my fun with that car. She was crazy fast for a stock seven.“ About eight months later Shuzi found the one he was looking for. ”It was basically unmolested,“ says Shuzi ”Original engine and 45K original miles. The original owner babied it so much that the paint looked practically new.“

To make the car more reliable a Pettit downpipe, an aluminum AST tank, and larger Koyo radiator were immediately upgraded. Rotary Engines tend to run on the hot side and the twin turbo chargers only add to the extreme under hood temperatures. Running a cooler system is the key to a reliable rotary engine.

Later on a Pettit highflow cat and Racing Beat cat back exhaust were added for more efficient exhaust flow. Greddy Airinx dual air intakes, a Greddy Type S blowoff valve, and Greddy aluminum intercooler piping enhance the seven’s breathing capabilities and turbo response. Finally an upgraded fuel pump and an Apexi Power FC were added to make sure the engine was getting enough fuel for the added upgrades. The turbos remain stock for now and boost at a mild 12psi.

The clutch also received a nice upgrade with an ACT street performance clutch and a light weight ACT flywheel. Shifting is shortened by a Mazdaspeed short shifter. The clutch and brakes received steel braided lines for durability and better feel. Stock wheels were upgraded to 17 X 8.5 SSR Competition wheels wrapped in Yokohama tires all the way around.

With all the mechanical stuff out of the way it was time to focus on the exterior. Shuzi knew exactly what he wanted. ”The last iteration of the FD3S is stunning.“ exclaims Shuzi, ”I think the old body style is amazing. I can't believe they made it even better.“ It's good to know that Mazda stayed true to the intent of the third generation rotary rocket when they decided to give it a face lift. The new front end is striking as it is functional; no excess, no gimmicks. Larger oil cooler and radiator intakes increase air flow and cooling capacity while giving the seven a more modern look. The redesigned front lip is dramatic and gives the car a more aggressive stance. Finally, a purposeful new rear wing with five angles of attack was added to complete the 99 style package. ”This is a truly awe inspiring design and it was only a matter of time before I felt I had to have it,“ says Shuzi. A two month paint job brings back the glimmer and sheen to Shuzi's prized sports car.

”I didn’t build my car to be ridiculously fast. I enjoy it for what it is and maybe the next one I get will be that monster FD that everyone shoots for.“ Shuzi explains, ”I wanted to make the car more reliable and more efficient with some decent power gains. I’ve learned a lot through the upgrading process and I know what to expect for the next operation.“