There are so many reasons the RX-7 is an amazing chassis; its handling, the timeless body lines and curves, and the rotary power under the bonnet. Tara Campbell was drawn to all three as she loved the way they looked, the incredible go-kart-like handling, and especially the big horsepower figures they are capable of for such a small engine capacity. You see, Tara hasn’t always been around the import scene, as her parents are dedicated V8-muscle fans, even owning their own V8 parts and supplies store, Performance Parts, so for Tara purchasing a rotary-powered Japanese import was an incredibly rebellious move.
The ‘batmobile’, as they are commonly called, has been one of Tara’s dream cars for a long time so when this particular 1996 Mazda RX-7 came up for sale, she jumped at the chance to own it. When it was purchased the body had extensive amounts of body work already completed, something which made it even more of an attractive deal. The original owner wanted the car to imitate Eleanor, a Shelby GT500 from the movie Gone in 60 Seconds.
To achieve the kind of staunch stance needed, the guards were pumped half an inch up front and a full inch down the back, ensuring that extremely large wheels could be fitted. Shane Graham from Prima Panelbeaters whipped up a custom colour to complete the look and ended up with something very close to Eleanor. A Series 8 RX-7 front bumper and lip were installed with shaved indicators and park lights for added aggression, and down the back the boot was shaved. The body completed sits on a set of 18x9.5-inch Wolf S1Ps at the front and 18x10.5-inch Wolf S1Ps at the rear.
Although the body was already completed when Tara purchased the RX-7, the engine and engine bay were in serious need of attention. “I loved the way the RX-7 looked, but the engine was in a serious need of a revamp and a large turbo,” Tara explains.
The 13B turbo engine was sent down to Brent Curran from Curran Brothers Racing for a complete overhaul. New rotor housings were needed along with new apex seals and the rotating assembly was balanced to suit. With the motor now built and bridge ported, it was sent up to Karl Judd at Elite Automotive to get installed, along with a few other power-making goodies.
“Everything was looked after by Karl. I wouldn’t let anybody else touch my car,” Tara told us. Before the motor could go in, Karl and the team took this time to paint match the engine bay to the exterior and give the factory loom a tidy up. With the engine mounted, Ajay Chapman could work his magic and build a custom single turbo manifold to mount the Master Power T70 turbo, alongside the 46mm TiAL external wastegate, which controls and maintains boost levels. Tara was aiming for high power levels, so the fuel system needed some serious beefing up. A Bosch 044 fuel pump supplies the go-juice and after that things are taken care of with a Holley rising rate fuel pressure regulator which then sends the fuel to its final departure through the four ID1000cc injectors. Tuned with a Microtech LT-10 the RX-7 managed to make a solid 298kW at the wheels on 12psi of boost, so you know there is more in it yet.
The drivetrain is completely stock and more than capable of handling this power level, with the only addition being an Exedy heavy duty clutch for a bit of extra clamping force.
As the RX-7 was to be enjoyed on the weekend, creature comforts have been retained. Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R seats keep Tara snug, and the Momo steering wheel gives her complete control when the boost kicks in hard. Only the essential gauges were installed such as the Auto Meter boost and digital air/fuel ratio gauge as a clutterless look was requested during the build.
With the RX-7 now completed, Tara hopes to make use of it during the weekends ahead, or perhaps sell up and complete some other projects she has on the go. If Tara does decide to pursue other projects, we are certain that it, too, will be to a high level with the best of business included in the build process to create something special.
1996 Mazda RX-7 (FD3S)
- Model: Mazda Series 7 13B, 1300cc, two rotor
- Block: Bridge-ported plates, balanced rotating assembly
- Intake: Pod filter, custom front-mounted intercooler, custom intercooler piping
- Turbo: Master Power T70
- Wastegate: TiAL 46mm external
- Fuel: Bosch 044 pump, Holley rising rate adjustable fuel regulator, 4x ID1000 injectors, aftermarket fuel rail, braided fuel lines
- Ignition: Bosch coil packs, MSD leads
- Exhaust: Custom exhaust manifold and merge collector, full three-inch exhaust, single glass-packed muffler
- Cooling: Alloy radiator
- ECU: Microtech LT10 with igniter
- Other: Decluttered engine loom