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Natural Aspirations

With the perfect blend of power and handling, this 1993 Mazda RX7 from Advance Performance in Tampa has an LS3 swap perfectly suited for road or track.

Advance Performance 1993 Mazda RX7 Touring LS3 Swap

Making the trek from Advance Performance in Tampa, Florida to Sebring International Raceway, the two-hour drive southeast ends at one of the Holy Grails for automotive racing history, but that doesn’t stop Michael Filippello from driving his 500 wheel horsepower RX7 to the track; on the track; and then back. For him, the RX7 was built to explore all facets of the perfect livable sports car. Living underneath the bonnet and providing life to this 20-plus year old Japanese icon is an American staple of performance, reliability and everyday usability: The Chevrolet LS3

Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior

Exterior

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Michael’s mantra for the exterior was clean and simple. He could’ve gone over the top with ostentatious flair, but instead opted to keep it clinically precise with focused and aerodynamically useful parts. A ’99 OEM spec bumper and chin spoiler keep the car sucked to the ground but also perfectly complement its overall aesthetic. Shine Auto Project carbon side splitters and trunk spoiler along with a Re Amemiya rear diffuser add not only style points but aero performance gains. An in-house installed Avery matte blue wrap (one of Advance Performance's specialities) finishes off the RX7.


Michael even used good ole engineering ingenuity to create an undertray from common materials. “I built a custom undertray for it to help with downforce,” he explains. “I used double aluminum signboard—aluminum with a Styrofoam core and then aluminum again. I just bought some [around] here, we traced it, cut it out, and made some hangers under the body and bolted them to the frame rails. It goes from right underneath the chin spoiler all the way under the oil pan. And makes the whole front of the car flat.”


One of the more interesting custom fab pieces on the car are the headlights, which were pulled from a Mercedes-Benz AMG. Because of their functionality to operate as both high and low beam within one assembly, you don’t need two different lights.


Michael explains: “We did that entire assembly: cut it, pushed it in, JB Welded in in the center of the factory housing, and I painted the housing flat black so it wouldn’t reflect a bunch of light, and then took the actual lens and polished all the flutes out of it so it was just clear in the center. The light would go through without having diffracted. So now I basically have AMG headlights and because they pop up, they extend really far because even though the car’s low, they’re almost level with the ground.”

Engine Engine Engine Engine Engine

Engine

Built for stringent specifications (i.e. reliable track and road use), Michael made sure that the LS3 wasn't just an engine built for bragging rights. The previous motor(s) ranged from the stock rotary with an intercooler and ECU upgrade, which subsequently blew to rebuilding the same motor only to have it fail; again. After that, another rotary went in with a single GT40R turbo only to have it fail again within 1,000 miles. Some shady dealings later with a less than reputable business deal, Michael ended up selling for an LS1, which was fine until he needed something else: more power. 

“This one’s been enough for me too: three rotors and two LS’s,” Michael quips. “You know this has had its share of work, the differential, the clutches, it’s just nonstop, it’s a constant upkeep. It’s just like a house, when you get one end fixed the other ends ready to break again.” Using a Hinson Motorsports LS conversion kit, he set out to alleviate his relationship woes by shoehorning the stout all-aluminum motor into the RX7. Converting air to power is a FAST LSX 92mm intake manifold connected to a Hendrix Engineering Maxx 92mm throttle body, routing the air to the combustion chamber.
Drivetrain Drivetrain

Drivetrain

In order to provide reliable power transfer from the foot to the ground, this FD RX7 uses an Astro Performance built T56 6-speed manual mated to a Monster Stage II clutch and pressure plate, feeding power to 3.5-inch aluminum drive-shaft twisting the power to a 2003 Ford Cobra rear end. It’s a Frankenstein of part combinations that come together deliciously like a fresh, off the stove ramen dish.
Interior Interior Interior Interior Interior Interior Interior Interior

Interior

Purpose built, but still affording comfort for the long hauls to the track and wherever else the road may take him, the RX7 is outfitted with fully upholstered Sparco seats with leather and alcantara with Schroth harnesses piping through them and clamping onto a Samberg Performance 4-point roll bar. “They’re [Schroth belts] auto control and on a switch so when they’re on they fully retract just like a factory seat belt. So when I’m daily driving the car, and harness up, I can lean forward, lean back, not break the stereo, look around, check my mirrors, just like I would if I was in a normal seat,” Michael clarifies. 

Wheels Wheels Wheels

Wheels

As important as it is to have a wheel that is strong and light, it’s equally important to believe in a product you sell. This is why Michael chose a set of Forgestar F14s in an 18x9.5 front and 18x10 rear setup wrapped in Toyo R888 tires. As for stopping power, more than adequate AP Racing 4-piston calipers and Hawk pads grip 13-inch DBA rotors.

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