Video: STZ’s LS2-Swapped Time Attack RX-7

There will always be a contingent of purists who think that sticking anything other than a rotary into an RX-7 is sacrilegious, and they’re right. But outside of that holy group, there were always the kids who listened to too much Black Sabbath growing up, and feel the spirit of the netherworld coursing through their veins. For that devilish division, the Chevy LS has always been the right choice – and the hellspawn in the drifting world can attest to it. It’s always nice, though, when a one-lap event typically dominated by turbocharged cars manages to attract one of these half-breeds and demonstrate just why the trend ought to catch on in a big way.

An LS motor can be found fairly easily down in Australia, where their Holden Monaros decorate the drag strips, drift tracks and bar fronts. Additionally, there is no shortage of grey market Mazdas floating around those warmer parts of the world. It’s simple then, that a country which prides itself on its big displacement engines would eventually get to swapping an LS2 into Japan’s best handling car: the FD3S.

This mildly-fettled LS2 provides plenty of power and torque at a reasonable cost with minimal maintenance.

This mildly-fettled LS2 provides plenty of power and torque at a reasonable cost with minimal maintenance.

STZ Automotive’s hybrid shows the detractors and non-believers that there’s plenty to like about the dark side. The stroked and bored 6.7-liter LS2 chucks out more than 500 horsepower with help of Harrop headers and uses a Haltech engine management system to keep making power reliably. Though having an aluminum composition, the LS2 still weighs 100-odd pounds more than the rotary – strike one. Yes, it’s length upsets the weight distribution – strike two. However, this imbalance is mild, since the cage in this car helps balance things out.

The wild front wing assembly turns heads and pushes the restrictive Open Class aero rules.

The wild front wing assembly turns heads and pushes the restrictive Open Class aero rules.

Being an FD, it wouldn’t make sense not to refine the already-unbelievable handling. Under wider fiberglass fenders, a set of TE37s wrapped in 285-section Yokohamas sit at all four corners. Beneath the iconic wheels are Performance Friction rotors and Brembo calipers at the front axle, while the rear uses Wilwood rotors and Alcon calipers, ensuring the featherweight can trim speed in a hurry. Custom STZ coilovers provide a little more feel at the limit, though the progressive and predictable power delivery helps in that department, too.

What really appeals to the enthusiast and amateur racer about a package like this is that it doesn’t need much to get competitive. Several years ago, this car marked a 1:39 second lap at Eastern Creek, which puts it squarely in the middle of the pack – and it didn’t need an entire team to sort it out. Without having to worry about boost spikes, lag, heat issues, and the litany of problems that turbo engines are associated with, racing becomes relatively simple. Just bolt on a set of sticky tires, tweak the balance a bit, open up that pushrod V8, and hold on!

While there are more powerful cars on the grid, this car has an accessible powerband, a benign handling balance, plenty of mechanical and aerodynamic grip, and looks to match. Plus, it sounds like the end of the world, leaves observers quaking in their boots, and has the rotary purists questioning their faith – sounds like the unholy trinity!

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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