Finding a flawless, daily-driven 25 year-old project car is like finding oil in your backyard—rare as fugg. But after perusing the Motion Auto Show earlier this year, we were proven wrong. Ryan Deguzman had just finished this breathtaking ’87 Mazda RX-7 with all the right parts and styling cues. And he wasn’t any pansy either. The 33 year-old drove this FC to work everyday with 350whp of rotary power at his disposal.
Like all of us, Ryan’s been building cars since he was a teenager. “I had a few Hondas and then got a 350Z in ’03,” he began. “Everything started evolving from there but I noticed everyone was getting into Zs. So I came up on an RX-7 and never looked back.”
Now grown-up with a career in the pharmacy industry, Ryan had the bank to live his childhood dreams and build badass cars. But why the hell an RX-7? “It’s just something different,” he explained. “A lot of people were fixing up other cars because of the bad reputation rotaries had.”
Ryan’s journey started with the newer and more popular FD chassis. His ’93 RX-7 had all the right equipment with Endless brakes, HKS suspension, SSR wheels, custom yellow paint and more. It took him two years to finish his first rotary build. “But I definitely underestimated it,” he laughed. “FD’s nickname is financial disaster. You can’t go half-ass on it because it’s not your typical kind of car. You really have to take your time and take care of a lot of stuff. I’m always changing the oil religiously and making sure the plugs are good.”
With a little more experience and rotary knowledge under his belt, Ryan moved on from the finished project and picked up this ‘87 FC last year. The goal was to make the car reliable and fast yet still maintain its classic look. Not an easy task especially since he would be doing all the work from his small two-car garage. But he was up for the challenge…
If you’re unfamiliar with a rotary, flip back to our September issue where we broke it down in detail. The jist of the engine is that the internals use rotors as opposed to pistons (hence the name rotary, duh). So instead of pistons moving up and down to create combustion, rotors spin to experience the intake, compression, ignition and exhaust cycles.
Ryan’s ride came with a powerful turbocharged 13B Series 4 motor rated at 182hp from the factory; however, he picked up a lower-mileage Series 5 motor as well. Both 13Bs were pretty much identical except for some advantages in the cooling, injectors and compression that gave it a 12hp bump. “But I was going to change all that anyways,” Ryan laughed.
A common power-building technique involves porting the rotary housings. This increases the amount of air moving through the engine, thus improving power especially on the top-end. Ryan opted for a mild “street” port which also retained factory-like drivability.
Addressing boost came next. “When upgrading turbos, it’s not advised for a rotary to use anything smaller than a T4,” he revealed. “Most people go with a GT35R or T4 but I wanted more response so I went with a T3-size ball-bearing GT30R. This way, I’m getting full boost at 3800rpm to 8000rpm with a flat torque line all the way up.”
The quick-spooling turbo mounted up to a high-flow HKS manifold. The injectors were also upgraded to 1000cc Injector Dynamics parts, along with larger stainless fuel lines. Then, Ryan added an AEM water-meth kit to reduce air inlet temperatures.
Out of the ordinary, an ARC intercooler was placed on top of the motor rather than down by the front bumper—making the throttle and boost response slightly quicker thanks to shorter plumbing.
RX-7s were lucky to feature built-in LSD’s in the rear so the drivetrain was left mostly untouched. Minor updates included a new Exedy clutch and lightweight flywheel for the five-speed.
When all was said and done, the 13B was tuned by RRR in Orange County and made 350whp and 275 lb-ft using pump gas. “I built the motor so I could drive the car block-to-block rather than a freeway car. If I tried to pull more power out of it, it would put out more heat,” Ryan explained.
From there, the owner finished up the engine bay with a little bit of swag. The bay as well as all the arms and cage inside were painted House of Kolors candy purple.
Chassis upgrades followed with Stance coilovers and plenty of stabilizer bars to keep the coupe rigid. A custom Wilwood front brake kit was fitted using a four-piston calipers and 13" rotors. On the rear, larger FD rotors were retrofitted.
The next thing to set the car apart was the exterior. It’s not a gaudy show car, nor is it bone-stock. It’s fugging clean (FC, get it?) and pleasing to the eyes everyway you look at it especially with its often-unnoticed wider track. The fenders have been widened 30mm on each corner. “I didn’t want to make it too bulky where it ruins the lines of the car. The factory lines are really nice and making it obnoxiously wide would be wrong,” he told us.
While new bumpers and side skirts helped give the FC its sporty spice, Ryan also retained the black moldings to break up the paint. The SSR wheels weren’t your typical off-the-shelf MS1s either. The rims were taken apart so the barrels could be anodized black.
Lastly, the interior required some attention, but not too much. “It’s basically stock. You don’t see many FCs around without beat-up interiors. Mine is cherry. A lot of the original pieces were good but I had the door panels rewrapped and installed no carpet. There are no cracks on the dash. Everything is perfect,” he smiled.
A couple aftermarket additions were called for such as the Recaro chairs, Nardi steering wheel and a carbon sunroof replacement.
For a 25 year-old car that was built in one year and daily-driven, Ryan’s done one of the best jobs we’ve seen. “You can daily this car but it’s not your typical project,” Ryan concluded. “You have to be a true car guy to own a rotary and be able to maintain it.”
1987 Mazda RX-7
Owner Ryan Deguzman
Hometown Gardena, CA
Power 350hp, 275 lb-ft
Engine 1.3-liter turbo 13B with Rotary Power USA street port; Garrett GT30R turbo; ARC intercooler kit; HKS cast manifold; TiAL 44mm wastegate; Earl’s stainless oil and coolant turbo lines and fittings, power steering cooler and lines; polished JDM upper and lower intake manifolds; Injector Dynamics 1000cc injectors; Mazda Cosmo Denso in-tank fuel pump; Banzai Racing fuel rail kit; GM 3-bar MAP sensor; stainless -6 fuel lines and fittings; AEM water injection kit; Haltech boost control solenoid; Racing Beat turbo-back REV TII exhaust; Koyo radiator; Blitz blow-off valve; CorkSport oil cooler lines and fan shroud; Mazda Competition spark plugs and engine, transmission and differential bushings; Mazdatrix spark plug wires and oil cap; Optima Yellow-Top battery; modified and sleeved main engine harness; deleted air pump; engine bay painted House of Kolors red purple pearl
Engine Management Haltech P1000 Sport ECU and harness; tuned by RRR Dyno Tuning
Drivetrain S5 five-speed manual with Exedy stage one clutch kit; Racing Beat lightened flywheel; Mazdatrix short shifter; Idemetsu engine, tranny and differential oil
Footwork & Chassis Stance GR+Pro coilovers; Racing Beat front and rear sway bars; Energy Suspension polyurethane bushing kit; Ronin Speedworks tow hook; Mazdatrix rear camber adjusters; AWR rear control arm camber adjusters; Auto Power four-point rollbar; front subframe powdercoated matte textured black; sway bars, lower control arms and rollbar powdercoated candy purple
Brakes 13" one-piece front and ’99-spec FD rear brake rotors; four-piston forged Wilwood front calipers with custom brackets; Endless stainless rear pads; Earl’s stainless lines
Wheels & Tires 18x9" front and 18x10.5" rear SSR Professor MS1 with Titan silver centers, black bolts and black anodized inner and outer barrels; 215/35R18 front and 255/30R18 rear Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior Shine Auto RMagic side skirts, rear add-on bumper; Foresight front and rear fenders; AIT front bumper; JRX Rotary Wangan-style wing; molded fenders, side skirts and rear bumper; carbon roof panel; APP 6000K HID kit, JDM S5 tail lights; repainted PPG BMW Alpine white
Interior Recaro Pole Position leather seats with alcantara suede inserts; Bride seat brackets; Nardi steering wheel; MoonFace shift knob; carbon center console triple gauge holder; HKS turbo timer; AEM digital gauges; GReddy Informeter Touch
Thanks You My wife, Kim; sons, Ethan and Rylan, Randy, John from Mazdatrix, Nelson, and Louie at RRR, Dahn and James at Tanabe/SSR, Brian and the guys at Falken Tires, Jeff and David at Rotary Power and special thanks to Charles and Sam and all the Source Interlink team
www autoexplosion.net; chuysautointerior.com; falkentire.com; more-japan.com; rrrdynotuning.com/tuning; shineautoproject.com