The Dark Knight
Dan Beighley’s 1992 RX-7
If Batman rolled a Mazda, this would be it. It’s ominous. It’s foreboding. On aggressive downshifts, it even spits a little fire out the back.
The story of this Japanese Domestic Market FD-series RX-7 is an odyssey of American patriotism, as well as performance.
Dan Beighley knows his way around mechanicals, and working in the United States Marine Corps heavy equipment service shop prepared him well for the trials and tribulations of rotary power.
He was a Sergeant serving in San Diego when his time in the military was coming to a close. His last day in the Corps was September 10, 2001; the world knows what happened September 11. Dan re-upped on the morning of September 12.
Dan, a Nissan fan at the time, was deployed to Okinawa and the silver lining was the abundance of cool Japanese cars and plenty of tuning opportunities. His dreams of a Pulsar GTiR faded as he looked for a slick ride to call his own.
Dan remembers, “It was not going well. Then one day I found this FD [chassis RX-7] at a seedy little used car lot in the middle of nowhere, for $5,500." In fact, it turns out the FD was a slice of Mazda history.
It was an early production model, built in October 1991, on a newly converted FC assembly line, as part of the first wave of FDs sold in Japanese dealerships under the "Efini" badge, Mazda's now-defunct Japanese market sport brand.
The FD had seen some tuning over the years as it was offered with a Veliside Type-I aero kit and wing, and some very rare and very hip RS-R wheels that were specially commissioned by Mazda as optional equipment for the FD RX-7.
The 13B’s vacuum lines and cooling system were in a poor state so a deal was struck for the equivalent of $4,500. Poor state may be an understatement as the RX-7 overheated on the way home. After investing a month in the birds nest of vacuum lines, a subsequent test-drive revealed the culprit was the radiator cap.
With the FD revving at fever pitch, Dan turned his attention to modifying the Mazda. He added a boost controller and converted the stock sequential twin turbo system to a straight twin set-up.
The tired body kit was cut away like a malignant tumor and replaced with a trick Wise Sports Type A kit. Dan rolled the rear fenders to better match the wide-body Wise front fender treatment and the FD was sprayed Mazda Brilliant Black. Up front, Dan replaced the stock flip-ups with a custom flush-mount headlight kit he crafted at home.
Dan integrated himself into the Okinawa car culture scene, eventually hooking up with a group of rotary fanatics. He promptly blew his motor and enlisted the crew’s help in resurrecting his 13B.
Fortified internals on a rotary are different than the rod and piston upgrades of piston-powered engines. The 13B received street-ported housings, machined rotors and 2mm apex seals. Dan also took the opportunity to go single turbo, enlisting a Turbonetics 62-1 turbocharger secured via a custom HKS tubular exhaust manifold.
Intercooling can be a challenge in FDs as the owner/tuner must balance the airflow needs of the FMIC and the engine’s radiator in a small space. Dan has done well to arrange a modified GReddy FMIC and a Racing Design three-core radiator to properly chill charge air and cooling water.
Fuel enrichment was addressed with 550cc and 1,680cc injectors and a pair of Walbro 255 lph pumps. An A’pexi Power FC, a popular choice in the rotary world, handles tuning while an A'pexi AVC oversees boost control. The combination is good for a stout 442whp.
Footwork consists of RS-R coilovers, Mazdaspeed strut bars and Mazdaspeed sway bars. Unfortunately, Dan’s uber-rare RS-R wheels didn’t make the big reveal as they were stolen from a powdercoating shop during the build. The Mazda now features 17-inch Uras NS-01s in the fenderwells.
The early-issue FDs were fitted with tan 2+2 interiors that featured backseats too small to even accommodate Smurfs. For Dan it was all about the driving experience, so he ditched the tan cabin treatment and installed a later black interior. He then dressed the cockpit with Mazda-edition Recaro carbon/Kevlar bucket seats, Crow safety harnesses, Knight Sports 300km/h speedo, a grip of Defi Link Meters, a Momo steering wheel a Pioneer in-dash head unit, Carrozzeria speakers and a Cusco six-point cage.
Dan was recently reassigned on American soil and after some “hoop jumping” his prized Mazda is again at his side.
Dan Beighley’s 1992 Mazda RX-7
Engine & Accessories
Street port 13B rotary engine
Rotary Aviation 2mm apex seals
Viton motor seal kit
Atkins oil bypass valve
Pineapple Racing louvered oil pan
Turbonetics 62-1 P-Trim turbo
HKS 50mm stainless steel exhaust manifold
HKS 52mm wastegate
HKS Super Drager exhaust
A'pexi Power FC with Fuel Commander
A’pexi AVC boost controller
A’pexi turbo timer
MSD 6A ignition amplifier
8.5mm spark plug wire set
Optima red-top battery
Walbro 255lph fuel pumps (2)
Earl's stainless braided
Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
KD2Y billet aluminum fuel rail
Bosch 550cc primary injectors
Bosch 1,680cc secondary injectors
Racing Design radiator
Billion low-temperature thermostat
GReddy 90-degree turbine elbow
GReddy two-row FMIC
GReddy Type-R blow-off valve
OS Giken 990kg B-type twin-plate clutch
OS Giken flywheel
Crown Performance stainless steel clutch line
Kaaz two-way LSD
RE Amemiya 4.7:1 final drive
Custom transmission brace
Solid upper differential mounts
Lower differential brace
Suspension & Brakes
Mazdaspeed front strut tower bar
Mazdaspeed custom rear strut tower bar
Mazdaspeed sway bars
Wheels & Tires
Uras NS-01 wheels (17x9 +30mm front, 17x10 +15mm rear)
Falken Azenis RT-615 tires (235/40-17 front, 275/40-17 rear)
Project Kics wheel spacers (25mm front, 20mm rear)
Wise Sports Type A body kit
Wise Sports +20mm front fenders
Wise Sports vented hood
NRG hood dampers
Cusco hood pins
Swat Racing carbon fiber GT mirrors
Custom flush-mount headlight kit
+25mm rolled rear fenders
Cusco six-point roll cage
Recaro carbon/Kevlar racing buckets
RE Amemiya air bag gauge cluster
Defi BF gauges
Defi BF 115mm tachometer
Link II computer
RE Amemiya 380kg shift knob
Knight Sports 300 km/h speedometer
Momo steering wheel
NRG steering hub
Crow four-point harnesses
Moroso kill switch