Super Street Network

Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
 |   |  1974 Mazda RX-3 – Rotary Revival
Subscribe to the Free

1974 Mazda RX-3 – Rotary Revival

Rotary Revival

Benjamin Hunting
Feb 14, 2019
Photographer: Viet Nguyen

Two decades into the new millennium and classic rotary-powered cars from the ’70s are thin on the ground. While you'll have little trouble finding an affordable FD Mazda RX-7 on Craigslist and the like, its predecessors have largely disappeared into wrecking yards or—especially on the snow-and-salt side of the country—turned to dust.

"It was a really, really tough search," says Joe Feng, referring to his quest to land his fire-breathing ’74 RX-3. "I remember back in the early 2000s, I could pick up a local copy of the Recycler and find them cheap. I paid $3,500 for my first RX-2. Flash-forward to 2014 when I bought this particular car, and suddenly they were twice the price for just the shell—and most of them were in terrible shape."

Mazda rx3 joe feng advan livery Photo 2/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Advan Livery

When Joe finally did land the RX-3 he’d spend the next several years transforming into one of the most formidable piston-less classics on the West Coast, it was a bit of a basket case. Rust and bad paint were the most pressing concerns, but it also rocked a strong bridge-ported, non-turbo 13B motor and a unique 9-inch rear-end setup that was a big selling point.

The previous owner was a regular drag racer, and even though the car had a bit of a Franken-motor situation going on (Joe recalls finding parts from several different model year engines under the hood), it was enough carbureted fun to drive while he figured out his plan for the vehicle.

Mazda rx3 joe feng profile Photo 3/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Profile

"For the rest [of the build], I wanted to do a restomod widebody look, something different from the other RX-3s I had seen,” Joe explained. “The body shop I went to, Ranz Motorsports, was very familiar with older Japanese vehicles, and the crew was able to tap in to exactly what I had in mind for the look of the car with the custom flares and rear spoiler."

With the tails for the car also custom-made and the front Works spoiler imported from Japan, the bodywork on the all-black, murdered-out first iteration of the Mazda proceeded according to plan—if a little slowly, according to Joe. The car then headed to Lucky 7 Racing, where it was time for a complete rebuild on an FD-sourced 13B turbocharged powerplant Joe had rescued from someone who had attempted to stuff it in a classic Lotus project, of all places. Lucky 7 installed a BorgWarner EFR 7670 turbo and a methanol injection kit, added larger studs, and a did a monster street port on the motor.

Mazda rx3 joe feng engine bay Photo 4/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Engine Bay

"It's currently running about 420 hp at the wheels. Given that it weighs only 2,000 pounds with a driver, it's got so much power that I could probably pop a wheelie if I wanted to," he says. "It gets a little squirrelly at times in the corners, but it also puts it down well with the 9 inches out back. I've got a few friends with similarly built RX-3s, but mine spools the quickest and just has this sweet bottom-end feel that makes it an incredibly fun car to drive."

Mazda rx3 joe feng front row Photo 5/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Front Row

Always intended as a street car rather than a hardcore track rat, the Mazda features an interior from Arthur's Upholstery, including a suede headliner, Mazdaspeed seats imported from Thailand, and a Haltech Racepak gauge cluster. The car spends a lot of time on the twisty roads of Angeles Crest, which Feng is lucky enough to call his backyard, and where's he's working on locking down his suspension tune. The car is sitting on a custom four-link setup in the rear featuring QA1 coilovers made by Tony's Speed Shop, while the front features a set of coilovers adapted by Ranz from older MR2 shocks.

Mazda rx3 joe feng ame wheel Photo 6/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Ame Wheel

One of the most eye-catching aspects of Joe's Mazda RX-3, aside from its widebody splendor, is the Advan livery. He told us he was looking for classic livery that went well with the all-black scheme the car previously wore. It took quite a while to get the right spacing, sizing, and position of each of the stripes, but Joe tells us it came out perfect in the end.

Mazda rx3 joe feng front Photo 7/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Front

How hot is that Advan look? How about enough to cause temporary amnesia at SevenStock, California's biggest rotary celebration. "The car won First Place in its class the first year I took it there, when it was still all black," Joe says, laughing. "Then, the next year, I won again with the Advan wrap on the car—and I'm 90-percent sure the judges who voted didn't make the connection it was the same car!"

Mazda rx3 joe feng rear rolling low Photo 8/42   |   Mazda Rx3 Joe Feng Rear Rolling Low
By Benjamin Hunting
32 Articles
1974 Mazda RX-3 – Rotary Revival
Tuning Menu
Owner: Joe Feng
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Occupation: Home Improvement Company Owner
Instagram: @jdoggy317
Power: 420 whp
Engine: 13B-REW street port engine rebuilt by Lucky 7 Racing; BorgWarner EFR 7670 turbo; custom intercooler and piping; Boost Juice water-methanol injection kit
Drivetrain: Five-speed manual transmission
Engine Management: Haltech Sport ECU, Racepak dash
Footwork & Chassis: Custom front coilovers using Toyota MR2 shocks by Ranz Motorsports; custom four-link rear suspension with QA1 coilovers by Tony’s Speed Shop
Brakes: Aerospace front components; Wilwood rear brakes
Wheel & Tires: 15x10 AME wheels; 205/50R15 tires
Exterior: Custom Ranz Motorsports flares and rear spoiler; Works Japan front spoiler; repainted black; Advan livery
Interior: Mazdaspeed seats; reupholstered two-tone interior and suede headliner by Arthur’s Upholstery; 15-gallon fuel cell
Thanks: Lucky 7 Racing, Ranz Motorsports, VJMU, family and friends



You knew it wouldn’t take long, but for HKS Japan to already roll out a number of performance upgrades for the soon to be released Toyota GR 86 and Subaru BRZ is pretty remarkable. During last weekend’s “Fuji 86 Style with BRZ” event at Japan’s Fuji Speedway, the high-performance aftermarket specialist pulled the sheet off
RodrezJun 10, 2021
Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of money you’ve managed to sink into your project car (or cars)? Most tend to shy away from the very thought for fear they might actually come up with a close number but David Vespremi, long-term owner of this 1993 Toyota MR2, has a pretty good
RodrezJun 9, 2021
How you found your way to your current car obsession might have been handed down from a parent, could be a product of your peers or, if you’re anything like artist Jun Imai of Kaido House, it was the miniature version of the cars you’ve come to love that managed to draw you in. Able
RodrezJun 9, 2021
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for in order to justify the rage that’s been brewing from deep within you ever since the 2022 Toyota GR 86 and its BRZ sibling were announced and somewhat detailed. You’re not alone in your angered posts and non-stop social media ribbing, we too were expecting the addition
RodrezJun 3, 2021
Car enthusiasts know firsthand just how territorial they are and brand loyalty that usually borders on obsession isn’t at all uncommon. Of the available makes and models both past and present, few carry as much appreciation and fanfare as the Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution family. Robert Krajecki, owner of this pristine 2006 Evo IX MR has
RodrezJun 1, 2021
Sponsored Links