At first glance, this beige Mazda looks like a stock 1985 model with nice wheels and larger rear tires. Other than the exhaust pipe exiting through the right front fender, you might not give it a second thought. However, this turbo LS-swapped RX-7 is heavily pro-street inspired under its mostly factory-appearing exterior.
Until you hear it roar, then you know Bonnie and Pat Arseneau’s car is anything but a tame grocery-getter. With a 600-plus horsepower LS V8 and a custom-built chassis and driveline, this RX-7 is more at home cruising the highway than prowling the grocery store parking lot.
Pat is known among Dunedin, FL, enthusiasts as someone who puts the same efforts into his profession (he operates Pat’s Auto Service) as he does with his personal cars. He owns a few fat-tire, blown vehicles – a Chevy II Nova and a mid-eighties Monte Carlo – so the Mazda project is his first small-tire LS build.
Starting with mostly a bare rolling chassis with the rear metalwork removed, Arseneau combined his skills with the help of several of the Tampa Bay area’s performance specialists to complete the build.
Arseneau bought the car about two years ago and began the build to attend the 2022 Turkey Rod Run in Daytona Beach to participate in a 100-car celebration of blown pro-street-style cars. Despite the challenging timeline and difficulty getting timely delivery of parts, the Mazda was ready. “Waiting on parts is the hardest part,” Arseneau says. “ After waiting months for parts, by the time you get them, they have a new version.”
I worked after work most nights and usually 20-plus hours each weekend to finish the first stage of this car for the Turkey Rod Run. – Pat Arseneau
While the front suspension is mostly stock Mazda with minor modifications, the back half of the car is custom, with the bulk of the work done by Doug Carty Race Cars in Seminole, FL. The rear suspension is a custom-built four-link system with a Strange Engineering 3.73 rear spool, Strange 35-spline axles, and QA1 shocks.
Front brakes are Aerospace pieces, while Wilwood rear brakes and master cylinder complete the system. JEGS SSR Spike wheels on all four corners are wrapped in Mickey Thompson 275/60/15 Street Pros in the rear and 145/15 Front Runners in the front.
As with any project, the engine is the centerpiece of the build, and the Mazda’s LS powerplant is a healthy heart. The 6.0-liter V8 is bored .030 over and produces more than 600 horsepower and north of 600 lb-ft of torque, thanks to the combination of high-performance internals and the work by John Codizio at Muscle Machining of Largo, FL.
H-beam rods, forged pistons, and a Motion Raceworks camshaft handle the horsepower and torque load. The heads feature custom cathedral ports that were massaged by Muscle Machining. Induction is handled by a Brian Tooley Racing intake that fits under the stock hood and a Holley 105-millimeter throttle body that has been welded and ported. An in-tank brushless Aeromotive variable speed pump sends fuel through an Aeromotive fuel regulator and VS Racing 210-pound injectors.
Holley two-piece valve covers hide the GM coils driven by a Holley Terminator X and four-bar map sensor, tuned by Matt Larue of Blacklist Performance in Odessa, FL.
Exhaust fumes flow through a Hooker two-into-one exhaust manifold to the Precision Gen 2 Sportsman turbocharger. A Precision wastegate and blow-off valve exit via a four-inch outlet through the right-front fender. Chris LaFerriere of Street Car Innovations in Largo, FL, performed the fabrication and welding chores.
The turbo system is a muffler, as far as my wife, Bonnie, is concerned. – Pat Arseneau
The transmission is a GM 4L80E built by George Anadiotis of George’s Performance in Pinellas Park, FL. The transmission features a PTC converter, Jake’s D3 valve body, and a B&M shifter. The drive shaft is a three-inch chrome moly unit from Precision Shaft Technologies in Clearwater, FL.
The interior is vintage Mazda but will be upgraded during what Pat describes as phase two of the project. The stock dash is massaged to accommodate a Holley seven-inch digital screen and a three-inch panel to control the Terminator X.
Phase two of the Mazda’s evolution will include air conditioning, a stereo system, and a repaint in the stock beige paint. Bonnie is the primary driver. Arseneau says she’s always supported his automotive efforts and looks forward to enjoying the car, whether cruising to car shows or an occasional pass at the drag strip.
“It’s an easy car to drive compared to our other fat-tired blower cars,” Pat says. For his first small-tire build, it’s safe to say Arseneau produced a winner. We look forward to seeing what he can come up with next.