MATT HEELEY'S1993 Mazda RX-7Turbo 2dr Coupe

Matt Heeley's 1993 Mazda RX-7 Turbo 2dr Coupe
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1993 Mazda RX-7

Turbo 2dr Coupe



HorsepowerTBA HP
Curb Weight2789 LB
DrivetrainRear Wheel Drive
Engine Size1.3 L
Transmission TypeManual
MPG (City/Highway)Smiles/G not MPG

The Story

I believe it was summer of 2007 that the car arrived from the U.S. with a blown engine. I had purchased a running car, so this was a bit of a shock to me. It was an eBay auction car that had not sold and i contacted the seller after the fact. I had a forum member local to the car go check it out and test drive it, and he told me all was good. When it arrived, I went for a first drive, and it promptly puked coolant all over the driveway. I had BSC Motorsports rebuild the motor, put in a PowerFC, and tune it. Money was definitely an object, so it was done as a stock rebuild, with no porting, and we kept the stock turbos and all the emissions stuff. It had some power adders and we ran the turbos to the ragged edge. It was never dyno’d but given a fresh engine, it was fun. It got lots of autoslalom time, and lapping days at Mosport. Fast-forward a few years after the rebuild - it was lots of fun, but the stock turbos were done. I had been running them way over their designed boost for far too long, and they packed it in. Kid #1 had just been born, so I had a choice to make. Family comes first, so the car got parked. Then a plan started forming in my twisted car-brain. Single-turbo Conversion & V-Mount! I stripped the car of just about everything I was going to replace, including a nice & rare stock-mount intercooler & airbox, a Mishimoto race rad, and my quite capable suspension setup, and sold the parts to fund part of the project. I started stockpiling. The car sat for quite a while as I gathered parts together. I started to really get serious about the build about 3 years ago, and yanked the engine and transmission. I started to strip off all of the stock hardware until i had a nice clean 'keg' to work with. Block off plates and deletion of all the crazy vacuum lines was the first step. The stock engine harness was pretty crispy after all these years of rotary heat, so I hung it up on the wall, and called a friend who I knew had a Rywire harness that he wasn't going to use on his build. Problem solved. New counterweight, flywheel, and clutch went on, along with the new turbo manifold, and a mock-up of the turbo and wastegate. Originally i had planned to use an HKS Racing wastegate, but fitment and parts availability was rough, so I went with a Synapse 50mm. I had to get a custom adapter made from the HKS 4 bolt flange to a v-band, but a trip to a local machine shop, and I had a nice billet piece that I wouldn't have to worry about cracking. Various parts went on, and I stabbed the engine and transmission into the car 2 years ago, but I ran into problems. I also had a downpipe to make, and some TiG skills to gain, so things slowed down while i practiced my welding. After lots of mistakes and ugly welds, Downpipe 1.0 was finished. Maybe one of these days i'll redo it, but it works fine and doesn't leak so it'd just be aesthetic. I found myself trying to find unique solutions to my problems. I didn't like how the power steering cooling loops were going to hang down under the car, so I redid the lines, and put in a finned aluminum transmission cooler. It looks way better, and I don't think overheating the P/S pump will be a problem. I used my new TiG skills to put together my own V-Mount setup, after the one I purchased turned out to be in rougher shape than I thought. I also damaged the core of the rad by accident, so I had to come up with another solution. I fabbed up my own intercooler piping from various AL bends, and did a pie-cut bend in one spot because i didn't have a bend to put in there. It doesn't look totally terrible, but i'll have to clean it up, or remake that section of pipe, because i'm not totally satisfied with how it sits. As it is now, it's about 90% done. I still have to install the boost control solenoid, and tune it on the dyno. I have to finish my gauges, install the stereo, and do some maintenance on the interior. I also have a resonator to put into the exhaust somewhere, because this thing is stupid loud. Fun, but loud. There's other fab projects on the horizon as well. I'm making my own aluminum under tray, and i'm going to try my hand at louvres. I still have some ducting to put in to the nose to close off the rad and intercooler, but right now, it's hard to imagine it's necessary. The v-mount works almost too good, and it's tough to get the car to get really warm on a cool day. All in all, i'm really happy with it, and i'm stunned that I managed to do it all, and it didn't blow up the first time i turned the key! Turned out pretty good for a high-school music teacher ;)

Comments (0)
19 here now
Matt Heeley1 day ago

This one's a short one Last runner is tacked together: Same procedure as before. Cut, hold in position, mark with a sharpie. Tack in a few places. Massage where needed. Once everything is really close, add more tacks Next step: finish welding, welding the collector to the flange, and wastegate design! #guides #rx7 #turbomanifold #fdrx7 #builtnotbought

[]Wilson Oberholzer

That's going to be one sexy looking manifold when it's all done. I love your documentation of the process and showing what really goes into making it.

Matt Heeley3 days ago

Thanks to my long-suffering wife, I was able to get some garage time on Father's Day to start building the runners for my manifold. I'm using 2" Schedule 40 pipe instead of tubing. If I were to use tubing I would probably use 1.5". If you are new to fab work, fun fact: tubing is measured on its inside diameter, pipe is measured on its outside diameter. My pipe wall thickness is .157" I believe, which when you


[]Gregory Garoppolo

Thanks for the walk through! Do you find that it's not worthwhile to do a cardboard mock-up of the part first? I don't have much fabrication experience, and even less training, but I'm thinking of getting started and buying my first welder.

[]Matt Heeley

I find cardboard to be really useful for brackets and ducting, and assorted things made out of flat material. You could I guess mock a manifold up but then as soon as you put a tack weld down, the weld is going to pull everything. I only have two runners to worry about. If I was building a set of headers for something I'd probably buy or borrow a set of these:

I only have 2 runners, they're relatively short, and the placement of everything is dictated by where the turbo has to go, so there aren't really many options for design.

I bought my welder from Everlast and it's great. Not expensive, the foot pedal is decent, runs on 110 and 220v. Welds up to 185 amps with decent duty cycle.

[]Wilson Oberholzer

That was a very detailed and well explained write up. I had no idea about the Solar Flux stuff, that's pretty awesome for not having to waste welding gas.

[]Robert Sixto

Wow, great write up! I have yet to tackle any fabrication work like this, but I admit it's always something I've thought about. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Matt Heeley10 days ago

I mentioned in the last post a few key points, but i can’t stress them enough. When it comes to welding and fabricobbling, preparation is key. And all the YouTube videos in the world won’t really help when it gets right down to it. Just like paying for track days and getting seat time is probably going to make you faster/$ spent than buying speed parts, time spent practicing your welding is going to make the

Matt Heeley10 days ago

I haven't posted up in a while. I teach high school music and here in the great white north, it's been too damn cold to do much until the end of April. And then it was concert and competition season. Now I can finally get work done. The next few posts are going to be me trying to build a turbo manifold on a ramen noodle budget. If you're like me, you don't have


[]Michael Jobusch

Looks really cool! I’d love to tinker and fabricate like that...

[]Matt Heeley

Honestly, it's not that tough,but it helps to have someone to fall back on. My Dad's approach is one that really gives confidence. "Worst case - there's nothing I can screw up that I can't pay someone to fix if necessary."
I always look at as I can learn something and maybe be cheaper, and worst case I realize I'm over my head and I have to pay anyway.

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