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Old 11-28-2017, 12:16 PM   #1
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Esserz's LS3 Powered RX-7 FD3S (The V8 conversion)

I figured I would post up what I have been working on over the past year. I have owned several import cars in the past including a couple 350Z's and a few 240sx's and recently started diving into the LS world with a C5 corvette. The vette is a fantastic driving car and makes great power very little money, and unmatched reliability. However, there was always a lack of interest for me in the body and interior side of things, as well as the community in general. The 90's era imports have a special place in my heart, and the ability to create a car with the monster V8 power and reliability in a lightweight chassis peaked my interest. Enter the FD RX-7.

For the longest time I have wanted to pursue a project with an FD and it wasn't until recently that i was able to jump on a deal for a roller chassis from Texas. I had my mind made up before I even bought the car, that an LS would find it's home in the chassis. It was a perfect candidate: R1 model with low miles, fresh paint, and all the rotary shenanigans had already been pulled out. I do love a nice rotary, but for me this project is about making my dream car, which is an LS FD. All the benefits of the reliable torque from a V8 and the elegant, agile chassis of the rx-7 combined into one. After a trip down to Texas (a 12 hr drive) I had the project strapped on a trailer and on its way home.




The R1 model was a must for me, at 6'1" I was unable to fit a helmet on in a sunroof FD. Not to mention the roof line without the sunroof has a slight dip that adds to the unique curvy look of the FD. The roller I found was extremely complete, with all interior items included as well. I am thankful I was able to find such a clean slate to start with.


Here is my Tacoma making the long haul from Texas back up to Indiana with my precious cargo. It was a great feeling looking back into the rear view mirror to see that FD back there!
[/B][/B]

Fresh off the trailer after a second 12 hour trip and resting in front of my house:



I was able to start looking through the engine bay and seeing what all else had to be done, and the hours of research had begun to prepare myself to install an LS3 into the chassis. My overall plans for the build are to do it once and do it right, my OCD will help keep my cleanliness of the build in line. Ideal setup will be for a road course, but would like to keep it as streetable as possible.

Last edited by Esserz; 03-11-2019 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:03 PM   #2
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Rolled it into my garage to begin the tear down process:


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Old 12-01-2017, 08:27 AM   #3
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Old 12-01-2017, 08:39 AM   #4
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Here is a good size comparison next to a C5 corvette, for those curious. It is indeed much smaller in length and width!


My first plan of attack was to strip out the chassis and remove everything in the bay to prepare for paint. This involved pulling that horse show front harness out (huge pain) and taking out all the factory brake lines. this engine bay has been painted previously, but it was done when the engine was in the car so it is somewhat of a patchy mess ha.

Rolled it out and removed the dash to get to some of the wire harnesses a little easier. The dash removal alone took a couple hours







HVAC system removed:


Got the front down to bare chassis, in an attempt to start to fill in some holes and do a slight shave of the bay. I don't plan to completely smooth everything out, just a slight clean up.

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Old 12-04-2017, 11:51 AM   #5
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With everything removed from the engine bay, I was able to give it a good cleaning and started removing some of the unnecessary brackets and holes.






I also siphoned out all of the old gas that was sitting in the tank for who knows how long.


With some help from a buddy, we welded up a lot of the future un-used holes for a bit of a shaved look:







Again, not going for the completely shaved look, just removed the un-used holes so the engine bay is simplified. I grinded everything down and hit it with a coat of rust reformer to keep everything minty until the painter can get ahold of it.
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Old 12-04-2017, 11:52 AM   #6
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I removed the pedal assemblies and tore them down to rebuild them. It's obvious they used mild steel on these, and a light coat of rust had formed on the surfaces. I ended up soaking everything in apple cider vinegar to remove the rust, which worked amazingly well. I let them soak overnight in about a gallon of it, and they came out looking super fresh! I dried them off and before it could start rusting again I hit them with a coat of rust reformer.




All the parts going into the apple cider vinegar:




Comes out looking like new:




Gave the steering column and the dash bar the same treatment:




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Old 12-04-2017, 11:53 AM   #7
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I figured I would go ahead and freshen up the suspension components in front and undercoat the wheel well areas before the car goes off for bay paint. I removed the front a-arm/brake assemblies and gave them a good cleaning. Everything up front is super pro bushings, and Tein flex coilovers. Debating on if I should do a brake upgrade now or down the road.




Had to pressure wash and scrub the crap out of these wheel wells to get all the crap out:



I used 3M professional rubberized undercoating and layed down a few coats. Love that stuff.


Re-assembled everything and the tow truck came to take her away to the paint shop:





At this point it had been about 4 months since the car had seen daylight, it was nice seeing it out in the open air again!

Body shop planned to knock it out in a week


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Old 12-05-2017, 10:46 AM   #8
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Old 12-05-2017, 12:33 PM   #9
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Yes!!!!!!!!!
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No because I don't want to do another 5 lug conversion.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:33 PM   #10
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I'm following this build for sure...
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:13 PM   #11
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:38 PM   #12
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Super clean rx! Excited to see your progress, great job so far. Learned something new too, that apple cider vinegar does wonders
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Old 12-06-2017, 06:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Super clean rx! Excited to see your progress, great job so far. Learned something new too, that apple cider vinegar does wonders
Yes it does do wonders! I've been using it for a lot of things, especially old rusted bolts
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Old 12-06-2017, 06:55 AM   #14
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Oh yeah the day before the car left for paint, a big ass box showed up.

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Old 12-06-2017, 07:57 AM   #15
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That should be a blast to drive. Nice find on the chassis down here as well. Had been and will always be on of my favorite chassis that came our of Japan....the lookk is timeless.
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:04 AM   #16
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Is that an engine crate I see?!
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:21 AM   #17
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Yes crate GM LS3
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:21 AM   #18
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So unboxing the crate LS3, such a nice looking motor! I thought about buying a used for the longest time, and some deals fell through on some engine/trans combos. I eventually settled about ordered a brand new crate engine, it was not much more money than what used LS3's go for, and of course still has the GM warranty on it.



Got it up on the stand and started taking about the brand new engine to do the oil pan swap





I will need to be using an f-body oil pan for the steering rack clearance. I went ahead and also bought the Improved Racing oil pan baffle for the added insurance during some hot laps.

New stuff goin on:





It's on!
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:23 AM   #19
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OSomething that I put on my last LS engine was an ATI dampener, it saves some weight and has a 10% under-drive on it. Will be a great piece to obtain that "quick rev" action i'm going for.



Pulling the stock on off with a puller:




New one is on! The new balancer weighs about 4 lbs where the stock one was about 10lbs. I went ahead and removed the stock manifolds as well since I wont be using them. I decided to go with the Samberg/Ronin subframe assembly, so I installed their fabricated engine mounts. They look really well constructed!

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Old 12-07-2017, 10:23 AM   #20
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While waiting for the engine bay to be completed from painter, I sprayed some satin black on my brake booster to freshen it up:

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Old 12-07-2017, 10:28 AM   #21
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A show worthy engine bay thus far
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:29 AM   #22
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Absolutely loving the attention to every detail so far. Going to enjoy watching this progress


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Old 12-07-2017, 10:35 AM   #23
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Interested to see what Trans and clutch you will mate this too...any insight?
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:54 AM   #24
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Interested to see what Trans and clutch you will mate this too...any insight?
Level IV T56 Magnum (Tr6060 in a T56 case) and a Mcleod RXT twin disk
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Old 12-07-2017, 11:45 AM   #25
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Car came back from the painter looking amazing, the pictures don't do it justice. I started installing all of the brake components when I got it back.




I went ahead and deleted the ABS system, for weight savings and the appearance factor. Not to mention I didn't have any of the sensors and I didn't want to put money into getting the system working. I chose to do the Rotary Shack's hard line abs delete kit, it took some manipulating but ended up fitting great. Installed a new gasket on the Booster and got it fitted up.




Found some nice sized rubber grommets to fit into the holes for the passenger line.




The kit included a Wilwood proportioning valve to control fron to rear bias:



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Old 12-08-2017, 04:52 AM   #26
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Sweet should be a beast. Picked up an RPM Level 6 TR6060 with Mantic 9000 myself but look forward to your feedback on your setup. Absolutely loving the progress and the good work sir.

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Old 12-08-2017, 07:29 AM   #27
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damn, looks good. Going to be a great build!
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Old 12-08-2017, 09:44 AM   #28
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Old 12-08-2017, 03:51 PM   #29
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One of my goals for the project was to get the engine bay "show worthy". Not only does it look good, but it makes working on the car much more enjoyable when things are nice and tidy.

I went with the Toyota Landcruiser master clutch cylinder. It's beefy. Took minor modification to fit, and I did not end up doing any welding. I used the male to male thread pitch adapter and everything looks like it's going to work. The master cylinder itself is cast iron, should be pretty stout if the seals hold up over time.




I installed the lines, and started working on the subframe. The original subfrm from Mazda needs to be replaced with an aftermarket subframe designed for LS engines. I went with a setup from Ronin, and had the subframe powdercoated from them. Install went okay, I did end up having to grind down some welds on the top of the subframe so that it would sit flush to the chassis rails. I used my grinder and took off the bumps of the welds and all is good!



Raised welds here:




Old subframe out and some heat shield installed:





Used some metallic tape to clean up the edges:


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Old 12-10-2017, 11:35 AM   #30
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I had seen some reported failures of the samberg subframe camber rings breaking off. This was mainly due to other root causes such as the front camber bolts loosening up and allowing movement. I requested that Ronin beef up mine with some extra welds (Thanks Ronin!) and they provided. They put some extra beads around the perimeter of the ring.



In addition, I etched in some lines on the back faces of the bolt face to help "grab" the metal on the subframe. When this gets tightened down it should help hold the alignment during hard driving/bumps.


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