What began as a modest RX-7 project for Kyle Bacon of Columbus, Ohio, turned into an obsession for horsepower. An electrical engineer by trade, Bacon was compelled to understand the mechanics of Wankel's rotary engine. He read books, crashed Internet chat rooms and asked typical newbie questions.
Finally, Bacon enlisted the expertise of Pineapple Racing and its owner, rotary guru Rob Golden. Golden has been in the rotary business for more than 20 years and worked with thousands of high-performance vehicles ranging from nitrous-injected 12As to four-rotor monsters.
After numerous conversations with Golden, Bacon opted for a custom port job, somewhere between a large street port and full race port. Pineapple Racing named the custom port job "NOCAB," which is Bacon spelled backwards. With the success of the port after completion, Pineapple Racing now offers the same port style to its customers on request.
Additional engine modifications following the "NOCAB" port include oil flow porting, internal oil flow equalization, special high-rpm mods, and a custom Stage III Pineapple setup. The engine was topped off with a set of 2mm A'PEXi ceramic seals and shipped off to Bacon via freight to his front doorstep.
Next, the twin-turbo setup was eliminated in favor of a single HKS GT35/40 dual ball-bearing turbo. Not only did the engine benefit from the single turbo, but the infamous rat's nest of vacuum lines under the intake manifold was eliminated. A set of 860cc primary injectors now resides in the custom port-and-polished intake manifold, while 1680cc injectors run the secondary units.
Fuel delivery is supplied via a custom Keith polished fuel rail through a Bosch in-tank fuel pump. On the hot side of the compressor, spent gases exit through a custom A-spec tuning downpipe and out the JIC Bullet titanium exhaust. HKS Twin Power ignition amps ensure consistent spark is delivered as the engine roars to 9000 rpm.
Boost control is under the watchful command of a Blitz SBC-ID II meter, while a PSR 45mm wastegate maintains consistency when the wick is turned up. Bacon is well aware of the "one ping and your motor is history" theory with any rotary. Not the type to take chances, Bacon installed a GReddy two-row intercooler that replaces the inefficient factory corner-mount system, while a Koyo aluminum radiator keeps engine temperatures at safe levels.
Controlling fuel and ignition timing is an A'PEXi Power FC and optional commander unit. Using Datalogit software, Bacon unlocked the necessary maps within the Power FC to perform his own street and dyno tuning. Tapping away at the laptop and monitoring the A/F with an OZ-DIY wideband meter, the 1.3-liter spun the dyno rollers to the tune of 416.2 whp at 7300 rpm at a modest 15 psi. The RX-7 didn't disappoint at the track, either; it laid down a 12.196 at123.81 mph at 15 psi, combined with a Race Logic Traction Control System.
With the engine complete, Bacon's next step was to conceptualize the factory RX-7's body. Focusing much of his time and effort in building a potent powerplant, it's no surprise Bacon revamped the original factory body parts to a newly revised '99-spec RX-7.
Achbach Auto Industries of Westerville, Ohio, supplied the paint and fitment of the aftermarket aero kit. The front-end transformation includes a FEED Type II fascia, Scoot carbon-fiber vented hood, '99-spec front turn signals and FEED vented headlight cover. Bacon also opted for a '99-spec Mazda rear wing combined with a trick, carbon-fiber air foil piece. Rear-end modifications include Mazda rear fender flairs, '99-spec taillights and a set of Wings West side skirts.
For a subtle look, Bacon swapped out the factory rims with a set of Volk TE-37s in racing gloss black. The tarmac-gripping 17x9-inch rims residing in the front are wrapped in 255/45-17 Bridgestone S0-3s, while the rears are wrapped in a pair of 275/40-17 Nitto 555R Extreme II gumballs.
Bringing more than 400-plus hp to a screeching halt are Brembo slotted and dimpled rotors, in conjunction with Hawk HP+ semimetallic pads that reside on all four corners. Although the RX-7 has excellent handling capabilities, a 10-year-old car tends to lose its responsiveness due to the inevitability of blown shocks. Bacon replaced the factory dampeners with the popular Tein HA coil-over system.
To increase chassis rigidity, a Cusco (D-bar) strut bar is bolted up front and a dual-purpose M2 strut/racing harness bar is in the rear. Since the car serves as an occasional weekend vehicle, Bacon chose an ACT six-puck unsprung clutch.
"There's a myth that rotary engines won't last for an extended period of time, but I beat the crap out of my RX-7 every time I drive it and it's been rock solid so far," says Bacon.
Bacon thanks his fiance, Kelly Gheesling, for putting up with his obsessive wrenching and engine tuning and the smell of pungent exhaust fumes. He also sends a shoutout to his unwavering RX-7 support team, Tony Tuklu and Mike Holand. Finally, he thanks his neighbors, Dan and Bob, for the many tools he borrowed but forgot to return. Thank you!
Update: Latest dyno figures show the car made 450 whp!