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1983 Mazda RX-7 GS + 2009 Toyota Prius


#1

Back in September, following my friend picking up a 1995 Chevrolet Astro, I went searching for a second car. The FB RX-7 had always caught my eye as a lesser known but gorgeous and interesting Japanese sports car. And, so I decided to get one. There were a couple listings in my area, one that was posted 7 months ago and the car had been sitting for 9 years prior to that, and iirc it had sat for years before that. The other listing was 2 weeks old; and being put up for sale by the original owner with just under 70k miles on the odometer.

Needless to say, I went and looked at the 2 week old listing. The car was in fantastic shape, the interior had some rough spots (cloth on the seats starting to tear, door handle covers breaking off, garbage bin radio) and the gas tank was claimed to have rust in it. The car was parked at a Mazda dealer (the same one it was bought from in 1983!) to have the tank looked at; I talked to the mechanic, who told me that he replaced the fuel filler neck, fuel pump/filter, and drained/cleaned/sealed the tank. The mechanic also rebuilt the carburetor and did a compression test on the motor (prior to me looking at the car), he said the compression was really good. I also found out that the car had received a rust protection treatment back in the 80s, so the underside is c l e a n. There’s a few minor spots where the coating cracked and let the metal underneath rust, but it’s all minor. The owner decided to sell it because the mechanic recommended that the tank get replaced. However, the paint was in rough rough shape. It sat underneath a tree (being driven occasionally) for about 15 years, and there are a lot of areas where the clear coat is completely gone.

The first look

Pictures taken when I went to go look at the car for the first time.







I fell in love with the car, and we ironed out a deal for just under $2k USD. The previous owner even gave me the original window sticker and owners manual, as well as a bunch of other papers and things he still had lying around. I had it towed up to my buddy’s house (where one of my cars is being stored due to lack of space at my place) a couple days after buying it. Got it registered, put plates on, poured some gas in the tank, and started her up to go for the first drive.

Being towed/owner's manual


Now, the only other standard transmission car I’d ever driven was my uncle’s Willy’s Overland Jeep; a very different car from this. Rotary engines have very very very little low end torque, and it makes them quite different to a piston engine. My inexperienced self stalled the car (partially due to front disc brakes being basically covered in rust to the point where you could barely push the car). Somehow, when I stalled it trying to turn onto a main road to go get gas, the positive terminal on the battery disconnected. After reconnecting the terminal, the fuel pump would not run. Due to the super rusty brakes, I had to get it towed down the street.

A couple days later, I rounded up a team of friends and we went on a hunt for a replacement pump, luckily there’s an Autozone about 20 minutes away that stocks them, and got to work. We got it wired up, plumbed up, burst an old line and had to replace it, and the pump worked. It worked too well, lol, and we flooded the engine. We eventually gave up, after we almost drained the battery. But we came back the next day, and it started right up.

Replace your old fuel lines, kids

The second drive went much better, despite the brakes beginning to fade because of all the rust on them. We took it to a car wash, got gas, and just had fun. Went to a few car meets over the next month, and put some miles on the old girl.

Some pics









After the fuel pump replacement we did a variety of upgrades and things to the car. We replaced the front brake rotors, old ones were warped, alongside new front wheel bearings (though they were not really needed) and brake pads. We got new outer tie rods. New tires; the old ones, while they had basically brand new tread, were dry rotted like nothing I’d ever seen before. We installed a working radio, a Kenwood KRC-403, and replaced both rear speakers; we have yet to replace/rewire the front speakers. Lithium greased the door hinges (no more squeak), and greased the wiper motor (wipers actually move). New drive belts. Replaced the alternator pulley with a dual pulley; this allows me to delete the smog pump, which also happened to have a misaligned pulley, and run two alternator belts instead. We also resurrected the A/C, though it will need a flush and recharge because of mixed refrigerants. Seat covers to protect the seats. And a thorough deep cleaning of the interior.

Dual Alternator Pulley

About a week ago, I got into an accident with my daily. Not a fun day. Luckily, I had my RX-7. For about a day. The damned fuel pump died again. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I had issues where the pump would cease to function while driving; however it would usually come back on after sitting on the side of the road for a few minutes. We rewired the fuel pump, which didn’t help, and we almost had to get towed again; but luckily the old girl convinced the pump to run enough to get us back home. I borrowed my aforementioned friend’s 1995 Astro for a couple days since both my cars were out of commission.

Dailying the van


10/10 alignment, would drive straight again

Taking the daily to get inspected at the shop

Yesterday, my friend had me pick him up in the van and we took a trip down to that Autozone and got a warranty replacement on the fuel pump and went to replace it again. This time we did it 100% correctly. We used a real crimper on the wires, and used a lighter to actually heatshrink the connector, followed by electrical taping the connector for added security. We also replaced the fuel filter, old one came off clean so the tank is in good shape with the sealer. If the pump dies again, it’s probably because this brand/model is garbage. My daily is heading to the shop for repairs tomorrow, and should get it back before next Monday, so it only needs to last a week, lol. Hopefully the pump lasts till spring, but only time will tell. I am making plans to completely overhaul the fuel system in the spring with a Carter pump, a fuel pressure regulator, dual fuel filters (in case the tank starts to rust again), and brand new fuel lines.

New Pump, Take Two


fuel pump was completely dead, had to drive it into the garage with the starter since the driveway is too steep to push it

But I finally have a car again! She drives really nicely now; thanks to the new alternator pulley, and a functioning fuel pump. I also have a full smog delete on the books, but the car is in good working order for the moment.

Resurrected again



I would’ve made a thread in here sooner had I known about it! Hope you guys enjoy listening to the story of me and my car, I might consider adding my daily to this thread just because. Maybe I’ll write up a post to this thread for it once it comes back from the shop.


#2

Oval-tuned NASCARs actually have the steering wheel aligned such that it’s pointing slightly to the right to get it to go straight; that’s definitely what’s up with that Astro and not just a bad alignment :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#3

The second- and third-generation cars are definitely better known for their star turns in Initial D, Wangan Midnight, and the Fast and Furious franchises, among others - but the original also deserves some love, and that is exactly what you have been giving the example you just bought. It’s definitely not a JDM turbo model, but it should still be fast enough for your needs.


#4

Little side update on the RX-7:
Went for another drive with the new new fuel pump installed, went pretty well I think.
Got a real pic of the dual alternator pulley with both alternator belts on

Original Pulley

The stock pulley is two washer pieces, basically, that are held together. Kinda a dumb idea, I think.

Also nabbed a pic of the radio. It’s not fully mounted per say, but it works.


Warming up with le choke

Drove about 20 miles today, pretty boring really. There’s not many empty twisty roads around here. You can have one or the other, busy twisty road, or empty flat straight road. Still strings out 3rd gear on the highway without power loss, so the fuel pump is still working. I’ll be more gentle in the upcoming days, as I need to keep the car working as my daily for a few days still, and as the weather gets worse (snow is on the forecast for tonight) I don’t want to wreck another car; especially this one.

I found a couple of decent photo op locations (will keep them in mind for when the Prius gets back), and nabbed a few pics with my big camera.

Piktors






#5

It’s definitely not a JDM turbo model, but it should still be fast enough for your needs.

I agree. It’s definitely not fast. Grandpa’s mid 2000s Camry can smoke it from a stoplight. But I really do love this car, slow or not it’s really fun. My overall plans are to keep it almost entirely stock, just making general improvements, such as removing the emissions system.

but the original also deserves some love, and that is exactly what you have been giving the example you just bought.

Thanks man! There’s still lots more love to give it!

Yet another side update, lol.
Winter is here. We got about 2-3 inches of snow last night, the Prius is still stuck up in the shop being repaired from the fender bender, and the RX-7 is running strong.

I wake up in the morning and go outside to see this. Took a solid while to get all the ice scraped off, no rear defrost really sucks. But hey, OP front defrost with the A/C on helps make up for it. She started easily, but the ‘add coolant’ light and buzzer came on; but then turned off after she warmed up a bit.

Figured out that the source of the coolant light was a low expansion/overflow tank; the coolant shrank overnight when it was freezing, and so there wasn’t as much as there should have been when the car first started. I grabbed some 50/50 green on the way home and added some coolant to the expansion tank, she should be happy as far as coolant goes tomorrow.

She made it to school just fine. I left early so I could take things slow and drive defensively to avoid wrecking this precious little car. I plan to do the same for every day I have to drive her until the Prius comes back.


The way home was…interesting. Sitting out in a big empty parking lot, in the cold with lots of wind, for 5 hours made the carburetor hate life. She turned over pretty easily though, all things considered; but did not have a good time for a few minutes after starting. I braved the cold to get a video of how she sounded; kinda sounded like a peripheral port, even though it’s still a stock port. But she smoothed out once she got warm and drove home beautifully.

Shop called me with an update on the Prius, things are delayed by a couple days since they had to order some more parts. But it’ll buff out in the end. Thanks for reading!


#6

Things went pretty smoothly the last few days. The snow is finally starting to melt, and I had the car taken to a car wash to get the underside cleaned of salt; I will take it back again before putting her in storage.

Today however, I noticed an odd scratching sound coming from the engine bay. After some diagnosing, I discovered that the alternator pulley bearing is failing now. sigh. The guys in the FB discord server told me of their experiences with this: alternator pulley bearing dies, alternator overheats, alternator melts and dies. I think it’ll last me long enough to get my true daily back, which has been delayed by a few days.

I have ordered an S4* alternator, which is a massive upgrade to the meager 55amp FB alternator and is a direct bolt on upgrade. I’ll have to go and buy a big socket so I can swap the pulleys, I had my friend help me with the pulley swap on this alternator; but I figure I may as well get the tools now so that if/when it dies again I’ll be able to swap pulleys myself. I also ordered some rear brake drums, I figured I may as well since they may be warped. Will go good with the brake shoes I have yet to install.

For those interested, here is a video of the noise. If you can hear it over the fan, its a light scratchy noise.

*for those who don’t know much about RX-7s, they are all labeled in series. First gen RX-7s (SA and FB) are Series 1, 2, and 3; each are slightly different in some ways compared to the others. Second gen RX-7s (FC) are Series 4 and 5. Third gen RX-7s (FD) are Series 6, 7, and 8. RX-8s are technically FEs and Series 9; but they are drastically different in engine design compared to the RX-7s. For example, my car is a 1983, which means it is a Series 2; a facelift from the Series 1 SA.

edit: fixed my misinformation thanks to the comments below.


#7

There were Series 7 and Series 8 third-generation RX-7s, but they were exclusively right-hand drive. If you take these into account, the RX-8 becomes Series 9, with post-facelift examples being Series 10.

Edit: Thanks @LordLetto for further explaining vital details on those particular cars.


#8

Series 7 (produced from 1996–1998) included minor changes to the car. Updates included a simplified vacuum routing manifold and a 16-bit ECU which combined with an improved intake system netted an extra 10 PS (7 kW). This additional horsepower was only available on manual transmission cars as the increase in power was only seen above 7,000 rpm, which was the redline for automatic transmission equipped cars. The rear spoiler and tail lights were also redesigned. The Type RZ model was now equipped with larger brake rotors as well as 17 inch BBS wheels. In Japan, the Series 7 RX-7 was marketed under the Mazda and ɛ̃fini brand name. The Series 7 was also sold in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Series 7 RX-7s were produced only in right-hand-drive configuration.
Series 8 (produced from 1998–2002) was the final series, and was only available in the Japanese market. More efficient turbochargers were available on certain models, while improved intercooling and radiator cooling was made possible by a redesigned front fascia with larger openings. The seats, steering wheel, and instrument cluster were all changed. The rear spoiler was modified and gained adjustability on certain models. Three horsepower levels are available: 255 PS for automatic transmission equipped cars, 265 PS for the Type RB, and 280 PS available on the top-of-the-line sporting models.


#9

There were Series 7 and Series 8 third-generation RX-7s, but they were exclusively right-hand drive. If you take these into account, the RX-8 becomes Series 9, with post-facelift examples being Series 10.
Edit: Thanks @LordLetto for further explaining details on those particular cars.

Thanks for the information! I’m not overly familiar with FDs, so this is news to me. It would make sense that the right-hand drive models had different series because I do know that the FD was on the market longer in Japan than it was in the US.


#10

Great car! I like it! Also in the state you get it, no mayor rust or mechanical work.

You did say that you are going to replace the rear drum brakes?
If you did not already ordered parts, maybe you can think about conversion to rear disc setup? Upgrade from 7.9" drum to 9.3" disc is something to think about.

https://www.rx7club.com/new-member-rx-7-technical-256/1983-rx7-drum-disc-conversion-960448/

Good luck with you car ;0


#11

Wowowowoow!!! Awesome car!


#12

I have a new set of drums and shoes to throw on the car until I can do a disc brake conversion.

I’ve looked at the forum post you have linked, and I cannot seem to find the kit that is linked there, it just goes to some random adware webpage. I also discussed this in the RX-7 discord. It would be a better option to find a rear end out of GSL or GSL-SE (upper trim level models). Those trims came with LSDs and disc brakes standard, and they bolt straight in without modification.

I appreciate the suggestion though, and thanks!


#13

New developments…

(TLDR at the bottom of this section)

The RX-7 is out of commission, again. Yet another fuel problem, smh. My leading vac advance solenoid broke at the plastic tube piece, and I began to have all sorts of problems around the same time (may or may not be related to the vacuum leak, I’m not sure). I checked the spark plugs, and they were bad, but I cleaned them off and put them back in; car started right up. I got brand new plugs and the car was running even better, but about 24 hours after the new plugs went in (maybe 2 hours maximum of driving in that time period), the car developed the same symptoms experienced before. I took out the plugs, and they were black. I am told by people on discord that this means I am running super duper rich; so I cleaned off the plugs, and grabbed a screwdriver to start adjusting the carburetor. However, even with the plugs wiped off, the car still had the same misfire and lopey idle symptoms. I just gave up on that and ordered another set of plugs, a set of wires, a new distributor cap, and a new distributor rotor. I figured I may as well go all in on the ignition system to eliminate any other potential variables, and then tune the carburetor starting from maximum lean to get proper idle. While I await my ignition components, I bought a ton of vacuum line and am going through the exceedingly painful and boring task of laboriously replacing all of the vacuum lines. I am also going to get some strong super glue and see if I can repair the broken tube on the leading vac advance solenoid. With re-run vac lines there should not be any leaks, eliminating yet another variable that could prevent me from tuning the carburetor; the repaired solenoid should also allow vac advance to function and improve driveability/economy. I may also just bypass the vac advance solenoids and run vac advance at idle (the solenoids drop vac advance at idle, and bring it in under throttle).

Also, the bearing noise from the old alternator disappeared, but I already received the new alternator in the mail, so decided to install it and upgrade from 50amps to 83amps anyways.

Sorry for the wall of text.
TLDR; ignition system decided to start breaking, carburetor was found to have been running hella rich for some reason. New S4 alternator installed. Also re-running all vacuum lines to eliminate leaks.

Here, have some pictures

The broken solenoid


New plugs vs old plugs (I do not have a picture of how the new plugs look now, but it is similar to how the old ones look)

New S4 alternator looks nice, and voltage is locked to 14v; a lot stronger that the barely sustained 12.5-13.5 of the old one.

Shoutout to this tool. Very helpful for reaching in and grabbing hard to get vacuum lines and pull them out.

Vacuum line replacement part one: solenoid connections are redone.

The ignition/carb tune problems couldn’t have appeared at a better time though. The same day I discovered the hyper rich tune, the shop finally called me and said the Prius was ready!

Now introducing…
My daily!


This is my 2009 Toyota Prius, the last year of the second generation. It is a base model, but was ahead of it’s time in some ways; such as the backup camera and touch screen center console.

Here is the story of this car:
Back in 2008, my dad was still driving around his circa 2002 Hyundai Sonata (I remember it was a dark blue) and it was starting to shit the bed. One day, late august/early september, the Sonata died while he was merging on the highway; and that was all it had left, the Sonata I had remembered for years was now gone. The very same day, my dad signed the paperwork on a brand new 2009 model year Prius. It’s been with us ever since.

About 4 and a half years ago, my dad was rear-ended in a parking lot. Fortunately it was at fairly low speed, and no one was injured; and the Prius rolled away to a shop for repairs. About 3 years ago, I got my learner’s permit and learned how to drive on the car; about the same time, my dad upgraded himself to a 2015 Ford Fusion in anticipation of me getting my full up license. Not long after I got my license, the title was turned over to me, and I became the second owner; the car had about 72k miles on the clock at that time, if I remember correctly. I was dinged by a distracted driver while backing out of a parking spot about 6 months after that, but the damage amounted to a small dent no larger than the hail dents on the roof.

Fast forward to 2019, the car has been running fantastic as it always has. It’s clear that it’s an 11 year old car, but it’s in excellent shape and maintenance has been regular. A couple weeks ago however, I ended up in an accident where I rear ended an SUV. Basically sums up to me being tired from a long, busy work shift, and one of the most poorly designed intersections I’ve ever seen; oh, and it was nearing rush hour too. The SUV took minimal damage, one side of the exhaust popped off the hanger, a plastic trim piece popped out a bit, and the bash bar may have been dented slightly (I never found out the full extent of the damage on that car). Sadly, the Prius did not fare very well at all. The damage was fairly minimal, but quite severe in the affected area. Fortunately, the radiator (nor any other essential equipment) was not damaged and I was able to make it home. This was my first real accident, and it was an experience I hope to never repeat; I’ve also decided to take an alternate route to the one that passes through the scene as I have now realized how dangerous that intersection actually is.

I talked to my insurance and got the car scheduled to be taken in to a body shop for repairs (this is when I found out how extensive the damage was). The hood, bumper, and radiator, as well as some miscellaneous support structures were damaged beyond repair (the radiator was not punctured, but was damaged). Thanks to my deductible, my wallet escaped unscathed, and the Prius is looking as if it rolled into the garage back in late 2008 for the first time. The fresh paint on the front end, and the new headlight assemblies make it look quite sharp. And boy am I glad she’s back home.

Picking up from the body shop

I plan on starting to take care of maintenance myself as much as I can now that I have gained some experience from working on the RX-7 (I am in IT by trade, cars is a new hobby). I would also like to drive this car until it can’t drive anymore, and then possibly converting it into some kind of swap candidate project car (if possible) once that day arrives. In the meantime though, she runs great, and is still driving stronk at 97k miles approaching 98k.

Some miscellaneous pictures

Prius next to my dad’s “new” Lexus HS250h, purchased used in anticipation of my brother getting his license soon :tm:


Back in September after getting the Mazda’s fuel pump running



Sometime in October


#14

Woot! More stuff!

The RX-7 is back at it again, in a good way this time. Brand new ignition components is now giving the mighty 12A some stronk spark; and a proper carb tune is running it leaner and cleaner. I also bypassed the vac advance solenoids and am now running vac advance at idle as well as under load (a little nicer to drive, and should get better economy).

New distributor cap, rotor, new spark plug wires, and another set of brand new NGK BR8EQ14 spark plugs.

Smoking out the neighborhood as I wait for the engine to warm up before tuning it.

Some happy braps

On the Prius side, I only have one thing to report:


We hit 98k miles!

That’s it for this report. Next time I should have a new clutch master cylinder on the Mazda, and hopefully new rear drums and shoes.


#15

Me and my excessive updates and posts, smh.

RX-7 is still running, leaning out the carb is keeping the spark plugs nice and clean. It’s also driving really nicely with the stronk spark; bypassing the vac advance solenoids makes starting a whole lot easier, and I figured out what tube is the idle compensator (cruise valve) so it coasts a lot nicer (while in gear) and turning the headlights on doesn’t drop the idle speed anymore, lul.

I took both the Mazda and the Prius out for a drive, grabbed a few pictures, and discovered a couple other decent photo op locations. One of these days I’d like to take my parents’ cars out for some photo shoots and make a post about them here; I’d also like to do this with my friends’ cars. But that’s for another day; for now, enjoy some more pictures of not broken cars!

RX-7




Prius









#17

It’s been a while since my last post.

And not much has changed.
I did finally do a real oil change on the RX-7, rather than just adding oil. Kinda mad I didn’t just do it earlier, its so easy on these cars. The oil filter is up top, in the engine bay, so you only have to crawl under the car to get the drain plug off and back on.

She seems a bit happier now that any remaining old/bad oil is gone. The transmission on the other hand, keeps telling me it wants new fluid; the feel in gear changes has never been worse. I’ll be doing that on Monday, and I’ll take a look at the handbrake tensioner while I’m under there (handbrake is super loose. It was nice and tight when I got the car, but one of my buddies yanked it too hard).

Hopefully brakes and diff fluid will follow shortly after, but I’m about to get slapped in the face by finals, so we’ll see how much time I have for car stuff.

This last week I haven’t done anything to the car besides checking/adding oil as part of rotary life. Still driving great, aside from the chunky and awkward feeling in the shifter. I have grabbed a few more videos to share, and that’s about it, lol.

vids

https://streamable.com/qawr6
https://streamable.com/uareg
small edit: cold starts usually aren’t like this, normally it will fire up quite quickly; I suspect that the leaner tune on the carburetor is the culprit. I might richen it a tad bit, but I don’t want to risk running too rich and fouling plugs again
https://streamable.com/acvxe
And at the request of a user on the Automation discord (who is not here on the forums afaik), the boringest startup ever
https://streamable.com/u5hxr

Today was kinda fun though, me and a couple buddies hung out for a while and played some games. My friend also decided to take his mom’s NC Miata out for a drive, since it hadn’t been driven in a while (she rarely drives it, especially this time of year). Because it barely sees asphalt, the battery was, of course, dead.
And so we resurrected the Miata with none other than the Queen of Unreliability herself: the RX-7.

The Miata’s battery is new-ish, so it shouldn’t need a new one yet; but with how often it doesn’t get driven it probably will. But it was good for it to get out and stretch its legs.

Miatt


(And the sad little rust bucket of an 89 Crown Victoria owned by same friend’s dad, however it is only up at his house for some maintenance as his dad lives an hour away)

More Miata

I took the long way home from hangin with the bois, and spotted a spot that looked promising for some nighttime photos. Only had my phone on me, but I think they turned out alright. Did some experimenting and used the 16:9 mode, but I feel like the quality is too low, idk. Here they are if you would like to take a look

Nighttime Aesthetic Pics









Side note on the Prius.

I figured out why the rear hatch is so hard to open. The little rubber thing that goes over the handle has melted and deformed at some point in it’s near 11 year lifespan. This makes it hard to actually actuate the handle and release the latch.


Will have to see about fixing this. I’ve been avoiding use of the hatch, but it’s nice to have a 4 door daily that can also carry some cargo. Not to mention that my ice scraper is back there, lol.