Power Unleashed: Mazda RX-7 FD with F20C Engine Packing 403 Horsepower

We all know how popular Honda engine swaps are; but in an RX-7? We pull out Alvi’s turbocharged F20C powered Mazda RX-7 FD from the archives.

There’s no doubt the Mazda rotary engine is an awesome piece of kit. Nobody could think any differently if they experienced a really good one. Which is why rotary fans are fanatical – usually disgusted by the mere thought of swapping a piston engine in to a Mazda RX-7.

The trouble is, the rotary engine is temperamental at best, a nightmare at worst, and more suited to a race car than an every day road car. As a result, people have experienced more of the bad sides to them than the good. Therefore, giving them a somewhat undeservedly bad reputation.

The engines might scare off a lot of people. But the rest of the car, well, nobody in their right mind can say they’re anything but awesome. Stunning looks, big brakes, great handling, and a large engine bay, means they’re one of the most popular cars to do an engine swap on. If you’re a die hard rotary fan, you might want to look away from this F20C powered Mazda RX-7 FD.

Front on shot of F20C powered Mazda RX-7

Engine swapping Mazda RX-7s

A lot of the arguments rotary fans have against engine swaps is they go against the original feel of the car. The high-revving, screaming, turbocharged engine is part of what makes an FD RX-7 so special. To be honest, they do have a good point.

But what about if you fitted an engine that revved just as high, was also turbocharged, and is capable of making just as much power? Well, that’s exactly what Alvi, the owner of this stunning looking FC20 powered Mazda RX-7 FD, has done. And you’ve got to be an absolute rotary fanatic not to love the result.

As first impressions of a rotary goes, Alvi couldn’t have had it much worse. While it was a rare sunroof model, it had an automatic gearbox. It had damage to the door locks and wiring as some scumbags had attempted to steal it. And to make it worse, once he got it started it had a misfire, which he quickly realized was more than just an ignition problem. The car had the dreaded rotary engine issues.

At this point most RX-7 owners start Googling prices for V8 conversion kits. But rather than instantly quit rotary life before it even started, Alvi started by seeing if the rotary could be saved. “I took the rotary apart to see what was wrong. But it wasn’t good news.

A lot of the parts had turned blue from being badly overheated, and it looked like the previous owner had ran it low on oil. Most of the main parts were scrap” he explained. While a typical rotary rebuild is cheap compared to many piston engines, the serious engine damage meant he’d almost be starting from scratch and the cost was huge. So Alvi decided to look into alternative engine options.

Modified F20C engine

Why pick a Honda S2000 F20C engine?

After much deliberation, the engine choice was made, and for two reasons. Firstly, the high revving nature of the rotary is all part of the fun. And secondly, Alvi always fancied a Honda S2000 but found he was too tall to comfortably drive one. So the engine swap he chose was, yes, a Honda F20C lump from a S2000!

Honda engines get a lot of stick from non-Honda fans for lacking torque. But they do make massive power for their capacity, and are capable of huge revs too, which in essence is exactly like a rotary engine, but unlike these, Hondas are famous for their reliability.

But what about the turbo? A big reason there’s less love for the RX-8 over the RX-7 is that while it also revs to the moon, it lacks the turbo an RX-7 does to make really big power and torque. And so does the F20C lump. Well, usually…

Front 3/4 shot of F20C powered Mazda RX-7

Carrying out the F20C engine swap

“I bought a crash damaged S2000 as a donor car, and completed the swap in about four months” Alvi explains. It wasn’t an easy swap, with loads of custom parts, but he’s very handy with the spanners and built almost all of this car himself. The only help he needed was on the wiring side of things, to get the engine running and the S2000 digital dash working fully.

“I drove it around at first in N/A form, but soon enough I decided to boost it” he explains. And this is where the engine swap gets really interesting.

Thanks to the big engine bay of the FD and the popularity of turbocharging the F20C engine, it was always a good idea. But while everyone’s got their chosen tuners, and it’s certainly worth travelling to get the service you’re happy with, Alvi’s choice was further than most. In Lithuania. 1,800 miles away from his home in Ireland!

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