Westly Yacinthe isn't looking for a fight when he says that the Toyota Supra's 2JZ-GTE engine is superior in every way to Mazda's 13B-REW rotary. "[The 2JZ] is everything I want and need it to be: powerful, aggressive, and, most importantly, reliable," he says. "[You] can't always put those three requirements in the same sentence as the word rotary."
Westly isn't looking to cause trouble, but that doesn't mean that at least one rotary die-hard wouldn't mind popping him in the chin for the sort of automotive sacrilege he's seemingly committed. Criticism he hasn't escaped following swapping the imposing Supra engine into his 1993 RX-7—a transplant that is every bit as complicated as it sounds and every bit as rewarding as you think it is. The engine conversion transcends a simplified box-full o' mounts, brackets, and hardware and instead requires a re-fabricated subframe and relocated steering system that, according to Yacinthe, had to be carefully modified so as not to disrupt Mazda's thoughtful weight distribution. As such, the engine was positioned low and rearward in an effort to retain the car's 50/50 weight balance so that, despite the 1,038hp it turns out, it still handles like Mazda wanted it to.
The quadruple-digit power figures start with a single-turbo conversion based upon a Borg Warner S475 that's strapped to the inline-six by a custom exhaust manifold and feeds it through four-inch intercooler piping. Making power is the easy part, though. Since the six-cylinder 2JZ-GTE's introduction in 1991, engine builders and tuners have pushed its limits, even eclipsing the 2,000hp mark. The RX-7's rear differential all of that torque is transferred through, though, is an entirely different story. Yacinthe annihilated three of them as it turns out, along with a pair of axles and a driveshaft before converting to a Ford Mustang Cobra layout. He isn't the only one who knows how strong Ford's 8.8-inch differential is, which made sourcing one a challenge. Retrofitting it to the FD chassis is nowhere near as difficult as you'd expect it to be thanks to Samberg Performance Fabrication, who specializes in the conversion. Samberg, whose primary line of work focuses on Chevrolet LSX engine swaps for the third-generation RX-7—an altogether different from of RX-7 blasphemy—was called upon for its bolt-up Cobra conversion kit that allows Mazda heretics like Yacinthe to take advantage of the tougher rear end and put a stop to driveline failures once and for all. To ensure that the Supra's gearbox didn't meet the same fate, he reached out to off-roading Toyota transmission specialists Marlin Crawler to disassemble and rebuild the R154 box to how they saw fit.
Westly calls his RX-7 his everyday car and, despite the 1,000-plus-hp, he isn't joking. "I wanted something that I could daily drive, drift, drag and even hard park," he says. "To build a car that was capable of whatever I felt like doing on any given day—car shows, track days and the occasional whooping of supercars' asses on the highway." But this FD isn't just about breaking off $200K pieces of Italian machinery. The Southeast Florida native and decades-old Japanese sports car fan admits that the mid-1990s is where his soft spot lies—a sentiment that led to the car's almost ostentatious VeilSide tome. Pursuing what he calls an "old-school JDM theme," Yacinthe hand-picked what he could from the VeilSide catalog, including its gauge cluster, steering wheel, now-discontinued Andrews Racing V wheels and the company's duly archetypal Combat II aero kit. All that's stopping the VeilSide pattern from being complete are a pair of seats of which he's diligently on the hunt for.
Patience—that and what he calls a do-it-right-or-don't-do-it-at-all attitude are both convictions that Yacinthe says are more marked within himself now than they were before beginning the build just a year and a half ago. Of learning to wait, he says: "I saved up for the parts that I wanted. With some of them being [rarer] than others, I had to either wait for them to pop up or do some serious sweet-talking to someone who had [them]." But perhaps more than anything, Yacinthe's learned to deal with his detractors—those who, for reasons unknown, aren't terribly happy seeing a Toyota mill crammed into the front end of a Mazda. "The hardest lesson I learned is that people will always have their own opinions—that the vision that you put together doesn't match what they wanted you to do," he says. "I lost faith in the rotary. I went through three [of them] in six months. I'm sick of justifying why I decided to go with the 2JZ to rotary heads. Can't we all just get along?
1993 Mazda RX-7
Engine 2JZ-GTE engine; JE pistons; BC connecting rods; ARP main studs and head studs; HKS 280° camshafts; BC dual valve springs and titanium valve retainers; ported and polished cylinder head; Titan Motorsports adjustable camshaft gears and billet timing belt tensioner; MagnaFuel 750 fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator; custom rear fuel sump; Aeromotive fuel filters; custom fuel rail; Bosch 1,600 cc/min. fuel injectors; Borg Warner S475 turbocharger; custom exhaust manifold; custom exhaust system; GReddy Ti-C exhaust tip; TiAL MV-R wastegate; Race Parts Solutions front-mount intercooler and four-inch intercooler piping; Nitrous Pro-Flow nitrous bottle; ZEX bottle warmer; NOS purge and nitrous solenoids; Auto Meter nitrous gauge; custom purge/intercooler spray bar system
Drivetrain Marlin Crawler-built R154 Supra transmission; custom shifter extension; Driftmotion short shifter; Competition Clutch twin-disc clutch; Ford Cobra 8.8-inch rear differential; Samberg Performance differential mounting kit; Driveshaft Shop axles
Engine Management A'PEXi AVC-R boost controller; AEM Series 2 engine management and digital wideband controller; custom relay board, switch panel and power distribution
Footwork & Chassis TEIN Super Street coilovers; Pettit Racing rear launch suspension kit
Brakes StopTech big-brake kit (front); Racing Brake brake kit (rear); Hawk HP+ pads (rear); StopTech STR 660 fluid; steel-braided lines; ASD Motorsports hydraulic emergency brake; Wilwood master cylinder; deleted ABS system
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" +6 offset (front) and 18x10.5" +22 offset (rear) VeilSide Andrew Racing V wheels; 225/40R18 (front) and 265/35R18 (rear) Achilles ATR Sport tires
Exterior VeilSide Combat II aero kit; RE Amemiya sleek headlight kit and Carbon GT spoiler; custom black/midnight-purple paint
Interior Race Shop roll bar and harness bar; Corbeau Forza seats; Takata harnesses; VeilSide carbon-fiber steering wheel and gauge cluster; NRG quick-release steering wheel hub; Prosport gauge pods; Seibon carbon-fiber door panels; Pioneer DVD navigation system; DB 10-inch subwoofer; Whelen rear amber light
Thanks You First and foremost, a big thank you and props to Andrew "GRANDMASTER" Gibbs at Steady Performance and Repair. Without the long nights, early mornings, McDonalds sweet tea, and your extraordinary fabrication skills, none of this would have been possible. I've learned more from you than I can verbally express in words. There is always a method behind your madness. Thank you to Daryl and the guys at Lincoln Auto Body and NP AUTO CARE for their awesome bodywork and paint. Thank you to the guys at Race Parts Solutions and Pettit Racing for your support and assistance. Last but not least, shout out and thank you goes to Mark Snellman, Aaron Messmer and Ben Bradner of Bradner High Performance in Gainesville, Florida, and Anthony "The Tire Guy." Thank you guys so much for your support, advice and help in making this dream become a reality, and a special thanks to the Super Street team for giving me this opportunity.