March 22, 2019, 08:14:34 PM

Author Topic: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1  (Read 11993 times)

Offline Esser

Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« on: November 28, 2017, 01:18:15 PM »
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 that I found on this forum. 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. :2f2f:




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!
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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 Edit: November 29, 2017, 10:30:11 AM by Esser »

Offline digitalsolo

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Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 01:22:53 PM »
Wow, that's a pretty looking chassis to start with!
Blake MF'ing McBride
1988 Mazda RX7 - Turbo LS1/T56/ProEFI/8.8/Not Slow...   sold.
1965 Mustang Coupe - TT Coyote, TR6060, modern brakes/suspension...  project car
2013 Focus ST3 - Stage 1 BPU

Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 04:01:49 PM »
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.


Offline Cobranut

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 08:21:54 PM »
Man, that's a really nice looking roller you have there.   8)

Sounds like you'll end up with a top-notch swap with this car.  I look forward to seeing its progress.
1995 FD, 7.0 Liter stroked LS3, T56, 8.8, Samberg kit.

Offline FC3S Murray

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 08:25:54 PM »
Clean roller indeed. I look forward to seeing the swap.  :cheers:


8 years and still running STRONG!

Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2017, 11:40:26 AM »
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.

Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2017, 12:21:03 PM »
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:






Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2017, 12:32:51 PM »
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




Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 12:36:10 PM »
Oh yeah the day before the car left for paint, a big ass box showed up.  8) 8)


Offline kinger

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2017, 01:09:41 PM »
That is very clean slate to start with!  Build it with street use in mind, if your road racing idea takes off its much easier to remove stuff then to build it for road use and have to try and add it back in later to make it a killer street car.  The lines of the FD are so awesome!  I just stare at mine in the garage sometimes.  Its my dream car for the same reasons you bought yours!

Can't wait to see your review when you get it done!  You doing crate ls3?  My advice is to cam it before install, get the most of those heads right out of the shoot. 
93 Touring, 6.2L, 415/425 Whp/Wtq, 8.8, samberg everything, AC, PS, TC, Cruise, LED Tails, HID head lights, immaculate interior and paint.

Offline karsty

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2017, 03:01:07 PM »
Subscribed!  Something about a clean black R1.  Love your attention to detail.

How many miles on the chassis?

Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2017, 08:42:55 AM »
That is very clean slate to start with!  Build it with street use in mind, if your road racing idea takes off its much easier to remove stuff then to build it for road use and have to try and add it back in later to make it a killer street car.  The lines of the FD are so awesome!  I just stare at mine in the garage sometimes.  Its my dream car for the same reasons you bought yours!

Can't wait to see your review when you get it done!  You doing crate ls3?  My advice is to cam it before install, get the most of those heads right out of the shoot.

Thanks I was lucky to find such a clean roller, it has made working on the car a pleasure since everything is fresh. I have thought about doing a cam, but it may further down the road. I enjoy stock cam behavior quite a bit, until it bores me I plan on keeping this cam in at least for a while to break in the engine.

Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2017, 08:50:19 AM »
Subscribed!  Something about a clean black R1.  Love your attention to detail.

How many miles on the chassis?

Chassis has 91k miles on it. The fresh paint makes it look like a lot less.

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!


Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2017, 08:57:15 AM »
Something 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!



Offline Esser

Re: Esser's LS3 FD RX-7 R1
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2017, 09:00:13 AM »
While waiting for the engine bay to be completed from painter, I sprayed some satin black on my brake booster to freshen it up: