In a perfect world, we would all have cars that could go as fast as we want, look like a masterpiece and bring members of the opposite sex to their collective knees at the slightest blip of the throttle. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect and isn't a videogame where we can simply enter a "god code" and get whatever we want. Even in movies and books there are stories of a man who attempts to create his utopia by genetically engineering the perfect species. This man ultimately becomes mad and fails miserably. The balance of nature is ruined and perfection becomes an abomination.
Now picture a world where automotive-life imitates art. That world of course, is our reality. The man isn't a mad scientist splicing pieces to create the perfect being. Failure is where reality and fiction differ. He is simply a software developer with a bit of ingenuity who attempts to build the ultimate driving machine. His previous experiments (RB26 Silvia, F20B Civic coupe), which were far from failures, would be the stepping stones to what would be his coup de grace. Sit back, relax, and let us tell you the true story of Karl Lindgren and his RB26-powered Mazda RX-7.
Of course, the true automotive purists will cry foul at the mention of putting a Nissan heart in the body of a Mazda. Cry if you must but in today's automotive tuning culture, engine swaps have become as commonplace as a suspension install. Swapping engines of a different make and model is the new head/taillight conversion of our time. The only difference is that engine crossovers aren't a terrible idea. If there was ever an appropriate spokesmodel for this type of operation, it would definitely have to be Lindgren's RX-7. Not only does it make over 800HP, it also happens to be one of the few cars out there that aesthetically represents the pure raw aggression that's under the hood.
"I absolutely loved the look of the FD RX-7s but I also loved the legendary power of the RB26." Karl says. "I had experience with the RB as well, being that I had one in a previous project. Putting the FD and the RB together just seemed like the best combination of both worlds."
On paper, it seems easy enough right? A Nissan engine into a Mazda, don't they go right in? "Fitment of the engine was the main issue." Karl explains. "After all, the original rotary that was in there wasn't very large in size. The RB26 however, was a pretty large item for the FD3S. The other issue had to be the electrical system. A lot of troubleshooting was involved in figuring out how to get everything working between the two. I had my face buried in service manuals and just used trial and error to work out most of the kinks in the swap."
There's no doubt that Lindgren expected people to talk. Why would you put a Nissan engine into an RX-7? The Wankel engine is legendary in it's own right. Some might consider it automotive sacrilege. Well, 876whp later, the discussion quickly ends.
The build-up of the engine itself is worthy enough of its own feature. Karl and Baril Engine Rebuilding Inc. in Green Bay, Wisconsin meticulously dissected the RB26 and used every possible inch of it to get this motor to perform at its full potential. The connecting rods, pistons and wrist pins were all balanced to within 1 gram. The crankshaft journals were micro-polished along with the full port-matched and polished cylinder head. Every fluid and vacuum line was redone in stainless steel lines and Earl's fittings. No details of the RB26, inside or out, were neglected.
Many custom parts had to be fabricated as well. When an uncommon swap like this is done, parts don't always fit and operate correctly, especially when someone is trying to make power. Luckily for Karl, he was pretty handy with the welder and technologically sound. He fabricated a custom intake manifold and fuel rail, DOM solid motor mounts, and even created the entire dry-sump oil system for his hybrid FD.
Helping the RB make these massive numbers is a Garrett GT4202 turbo. This snail is so large that it's not even shy about it-it literally sticks out through the hood. "The GT4202 has such a large A/R housing that I went in knowing there would be a bit of lag. That's why I added the nitrous. It's pretty ridiculous on the road," Karl exclaims. "Without drag radials on, it's almost pointless to hit boost. Even with them on, the car still screams all the way through 3rd gear."
To ensure that all the menacing power is transformed to the tarmac, Karl opted for the most traction and the widest wheels he could get his hands on. The 18x10/18x12 Weds wheels not only provide enough lip to make any offset fanatic drool, it also houses 335/30-18 BFGoodrich tires in the rear. Yes 335, no stretch needed here. All rubber so that Karl stays firmly pushed against his seat and the FD stays on the road.
Obviously, you can't just go out and throw on some 12-inch wide wheels on a stock-body RX-7. Karl lives in Wisconsin and isn't exactly a big fan of the lowrider poke so he widened the rear quarter panels 7-inches to house the Weds wheels. The front fenders were widened by 5-inches and Karl even went as far as to modify his authentic FEED front bumper to flow with the fatter body. The entire chassis was then re-sprayed in a Lamborghini Grigio Metallic hue. This RX-7 is no Lambo, but it could definitely feast on a couple of them.
The interior is straight to business; Kirkey Pro Drag seats, S&W 10-point rollcage, 15-gallon aluminum fuel cell, and two 15-pound nitrous bottles ready to take Karl to light speed. Defi and Stewart Warner gauges adorn the entire dash to notify Lindgren of all essential engine operations.
There isn't really much we can say about this hybrid RX-7 that can't simply be described by one word; "awesome". It's a beast. Karl Lindgren may not be a mad scientist seeking genetic perfection like we've seen in the movies, but his RB-powered FD is definitely a freak of nature and it has the balane of power in the palm of its hands.
1994 Mazda RX-7
Owner Karl Lindgren
Hometown Greenbay, WI
Occupation Software developer
Engine 1996 2.7L BCNR33 RB26DETT; connecting rods, pistons and wrist pins balanced within one gram; crankshaft balanced front-to-back; crankshaft journals micro-polished; full port-matched and polished cylinder head; NISMO main bearings and connecting rod bearings; Power Enterprises 1.8mm head gasket; Tomei ProCam 280-degree 11.5mm camshafts, exhaust manifold and Type-C titanium valve springs, lifters, retainers; Pauter H-beam connecting rods; CP Piston 86.5mm oversized pistons and piston rings; ARP 190K PSI head studs; GReddy timing belt and billet alternator pulley; custom-made intake manifold and fuel rail; Bosch fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump (2), Solid State fuel pump controller, and 10 micron fuel filter (2); Accufab 90mm throttle-body; STR cam gears; HKS Twin Power ignition; NGK-R spark plugs; 4" custom exhaust and intercooler piping; Magnaflow drag muffler; Garrett GT4202 large frame turbocharger; Turbonetics Godzilla blow-off valve and New-Gen HP wastegate; 4" custom air intercooler; Weaver 4-stage dry sump oil pump; custom dry sump oil system; Nissan GT-R N1 water pump; ATI crank damper and billet water pump pulley; AFCO radiator with custom expansion chamber; customized coolant passage bypass modification; Earl's stainless lines; custom solid DOM motor mounts; Wilson's Pro Flow direct-port nitrous oxide system (150-300 shot)
Drivetrain 1995 ENR33 RB25DET 5-speed transmission; HKS GD Clutch Pro Triple clutch kit; OEM Mazda limited-slip differential; custom short-throw shifter and chromoly driveshaft with solid Spicer joints
Footwork & Chassis HKS Hypermax Drag 30-way adjustable coilovers; Megan Racing trailing arms; CNC staging brake; custom bumpsteer correction kit; ABS elimination with brake proportioning valve
Brakes Brembo Gran Turismo Big Brake System; Earl's stainless brake lines
Wheels & Tires 18x10 Weds Kranze ER-M, 275/35-18 BF Goodrich-R1 (front); 18x12 Weds Kranze ER-M, 335/30-18 BFGoodrich R1 (rear)
Exterior PPG Lamborghini Grigio Metallic paint; FEED front bumper widened 5-inches; custom wide-body (5" front, 7" rear): RE Amemiya carbon-fiber rear diffuser; C-West flush-mount headlights; McCullough 8000K HID system; custom LED taillights; Seibon carbon-fiber hood, rear hatch, and doors; AeroCatch flush locking hood pins; APR carbon-fiber Formula GT3 mirrors
Interior Kirkey Pro Drag seats; MOMO Trek steering wheel; NRG short hub and carbon-fiber quick-release; Razo weighted shift knob; G-Force 4-point cam-lock safety harnesses; aluminum battery box; S&W Racing 10-point rollcage; custom RCI 15-gallon aluminum fuel cell; 15-pound nitrous tank with high-flow valve (2); Defi D-Link 11,000RPM tachometer, fuel pressure, oil pressure, and boost gauges; Defi Link Control Unit II; AEM EMS with UEGO; AEM 5-bar MAP sensor, Peak Hold injector driver, TruBoost boost controller; AEM custom CAS trigger wheel; Stewart Warner 200mph speedometer, fuel level, water temperature, and 40PSI boost gauges
Thanks you Tyrone Rodriguez for all the hook-ups, guidance and inspiration; Matt Vander Loop (Loopy) for all his help and patience; my parents; the entire country of Sweden
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