Ranj Jaaf’s Mazda RX-7
WHEN RANJ JAAF PICKED UP A MAZDA RX-7, THERE WAS NO TURNING BACK…
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.”