We can't say that we've featured a lot of Mazda RX-8s. It goes without saying that the car isn't nearly as popular as its predecessor, the RX-7. The RX-8 has two extra doors, two extra seats, and a naturally aspirated 1.3L Renesis rotary. Not terrible attributes by any means, however, much of what made the RX-7 special was taken away, which is why NorCal resident Giovanni Alcala developed a game plan to make his unloved Mazda sports car as amazing and powerful as the FD3S RX-7.
"At first I wanted an RX-7, but they were so overpriced and no bank would finance them," Alcala explains. "I wanted to do something nobody else was doing. I loved the way the RX-8 looked. To me, it was a sexy car." Alcala started his project by opting for aero from Mazda's in-house performance division, Mazdaspeed. Mazda saw a steady decline in sales after '04, which made Mazdaspeed aero much harder to find. Most of the parts Alcala found in the U.S. had busted tabs or were broken in pieces, which is why his front bumper had to be sourced from Japan. Also from Japan, Alcala had Voltex make him a one-off GT wing specifically for his RX-8. It took six months to get the wing made, seven months of compiling parts in his living room, and a full year of nailing down body and paint. For Alcala, it was worth the wait.
There was still that problem with the underpowered Renesis, Mazda's idea to reduce exhaust emissions and improve fuel economy. Alcala looked toward a motor swap. At first, he entertained the idea of an LS but wasn't satisfied with "dropping in a V-8 and calling it a day." Instead, he did what any rotary aficionado would've done-swap in the iconic twin-turbocharged 13B-REW out of an RX-7. He completed the swap, converted the twin turbo setup to a more powerful single turbo, and made a solid 580 hp. For some people that's fine and dandy, but it simply wasn't good enough for Alcala. He and his mechanics pulled apart the engine and sent it out to be milled to make room for oversized studs. All the piping was redone to accommodate a bigger Garrett GTX turbo and, of course, he had to get the car retuned. We couldn't tell you how much power he's making now, but all we can say is his last dyno read 703 hp to the wheels before his vacuum lines popped off at 7,000 rpm. "I wanted to build something different," Alcala concludes. "I also wanted something with a ton of power that would scare the shit out of me."