Ranj Jaaf’s Mazda RX-7

WHEN RANJ JAAF PICKED UP A MAZDA RX-7, THERE WAS NO TURN­ING BACK…

Super Street - - Contents - WORDS Austin Lott PHO­TOS Manny Ramirez

The third-gen­er­a­tion (FD) Mazda RX-7 is one of the most pop­u­lar ve­hi­cles to mod­ify among per­for­mance car en­thu­si­asts. We’ve seen just about ev­ery shape and form, from drift and time-at­tack ex­am­ples to count­less V-8 swaps. In fact, it al­most feels rare to find an FD with­out an LS these days! De­spite the push for pushrod power, there are still a hand­ful of peo­ple ap­pre­ci­at­ing the joys (and woes) of the twin-tur­bocharged ro­tary Mazda in­tended for the Rx-7…peo­ple like Ranj Jaaf.

Ranj is orig­i­nally from Philadel­phia, where he owned a Nis­san 350Z as his first se­ri­ous project car in high school. Un­sat­is­fied with the Z, he sold it to pur­chase a BMW E46 M3, which he didn’t own for very long be­fore find­ing this ’93 RX-7. Still rel­a­tively new to mod­i­fy­ing cars, he wanted to go for a hard-core stance setup, which he felt not many FD own­ers had ac­com­plished. “I knew I was gonna lower it, put some good wheels on it, and make it loud,” he ex­plains. So, of course, the first few things fit­ted were an ex­haust, ag­gres­sive sus­pen­sion, and a stretched wheel and tire combo. At the same time, Plasti-dip was just start­ing to take off, so he ex­per­i­mented with the ba­sic col­ors to cre­ate a pearl white fin­ish.

As you can imag­ine, Ranj’s FD was loud in more ways than one, which at­tracted plenty of at­ten­tion from other cars look­ing to race. Sure enough, one night on the free­way, he was play­ing around with a Corvette. The com­bi­na­tion of bolt-on parts with­out a proper tune, plus the cold win­ter air left him with an en­gine run­ning too lean. The 13B-REW didn’t sur­vive the race, and he was left with only one of its two rotors. “I was just pissed at my­self,” he re­mem­bers. And like most of us in our teenage years, he didn’t have a lot of dough in the bank to pay a shop to fix ev­ery­thing. He de­cided to rip into the en­gine him­self, even though he’d never worked on a ro­tary be­fore.

He checked the com­pres­sion first, con­firm­ing he’d blown an apex seal on one of the rotors. After tak­ing a look at the project and do­ing his re­search, he re­al­ized the ro­tary wasn’t im­pos­si­ble to work on, so he de­cided to re­build it with his bare hands in his par­ents’ garage. After five months, Ranj had suc­cess­fully re­stored his first ro­tary, which in­cluded new seals and a larger street port. Throw in a pair of Borgwarner turbos, and he es­ti­mates it to be in the 350 to 400hp range run­ning 13 psi. “I have fun, but I don’t push it un­til it’s warmed up,” he ex­plains. “She boo­gies, it scares me, it makes all the right noises.”

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