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Thread: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

  1. #1
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    85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    There are so many talented guys posting their restoration stories here. Mainly on older RX's like R-100s, RX-3s, etc. I thought there might be some interest in what I have been doing with my 85 RX-7. Unlike many, I do not have the time,space, or tools to do most of the work myself. Hope this is OK...

    My goal with my car is to keep it as stock looking as possible, but to improve the performance and reliability of the car. I am over 55, so turning it into a boy-racer is not on the agenda.

    First job was to upgrade the suspension with Racing Beat sway bar, urethane bushings, better springs, steering components, and a strut tower bar. The previous owner installed new shocks so I did not worry about those.





    New RB exhaust system:



    Next project was having it painted...





    Cannot paint it without replacing all the badges, etc...



    Exterior done:





    Next up is replacing the smoky 13B with a series 5 (91) turbo 2 motor and S4 (88) transmission. The objective of the engine swap is to keep the accessories that make it a civilized sports car - air conditioning, cruise control, and power steering. To do this the 91 engine was rebuilt using the front section from the old 13B so that all the accessories and brackets fit. The S4 tranny was selected because it fits the GSL-SE better. Not wanting to cut a hole in the hood or figure out a way to mount a front inter-cooler, we will be using water injection to keep the air charge cooled. Also, a Haltech ECU and wiring harness are being used.

    Old transmission on right - new S4 T2 transmission on left:



    Nice mess in engine bay with old motor pulled.



    New engine:



    Engine and transmission installed:



    Modified the stock air box to feed the turbine:



    Will need a better radiator, this one from Champion Cooling Systems was a great deal. $220 US with a 16" electric fan:



    With transmission installed, old shift knob looks like the stock:



    Currently we are waiting for the drive shaft to come back from the machine shop. It turns out not only did it have to be shortened, the splines did not match so they had to be re-cut. It has been in the shop for the engine swap for almost a year, but should be ready any day now...

  2. #2
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    Looks good! I'm told the 13b turbo swap into the fb can be a real pain, but yours looks to be well-done. It should be a lot of fun trying to manage all that power in such a light chassis, but by your suspension mods I would guess that the car will be well-rounded. Keep it up!

  3. #3
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    Thank you, Oldisgold. The engine swap was one of those "all you have to do..." projects. A friend said all you have to do is get a used drive train out of a S5 RX-7 and drop it in your 85, ECU and all. Well, once we started we decided to change the fuel pump, then the ECU, then we needed a new clutch of course to handle the power, new radiator to handle the heat, etc, etc. Now that it is almost done, there is a question about the stock wheels and tires - will they be sufficient to hook up with the new turbo power? I want to keep the appearance stock, so I don't want to replace the stock wheels. It is getting hard to find tires that fit, though. I am open to suggestions for replacement wheel and tires combinations. If I do replace the stock wheels, I want something that looks appropriate for a 1985 car.

  4. #4
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    I believe the gsl-se wheels are only 6 in wide, so I would probably go with something with more of a contact patch if I were you.. luckily your car has the 4x114.3 bolt pattern, as opposed to the 4x110 on the other old Mazdas like mine, so your choices are plentiful. As far as keeping the look of the car "period correct," you can't go wrong with a set of panasports or epsilon meshies.. Hayashi and SSR also make authentic wheels that would look right on the fb, and I think you can get them 7 or 8 inches wide..

  5. #5
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    Thanks. I decided to go with Panasports 15x7 wheels. The stock wheels are 14x5.5", so the Panasports should provide a little more contact and they will look great. I am confused about tire size. I was told they need 205/50s, which seems odd because the stock 5.5" rims also use 205 width tires. Not sure how 5.5" wheels and 7" wheels have the same tire width. Another problem is due to the earthquake, delivery from Japan is iffy, so I was told 8 weeks delivery time.

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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    Quote Originally Posted by pqjim
    Thanks. I decided to go with Panasports 15x7 wheels. The stock wheels are 14x5.5", so the Panasports should provide a little more contact and they will look great. I am confused about tire size. I was told they need 205/50s, which seems odd because the stock 5.5" rims also use 205 width tires. Not sure how 5.5" wheels and 7" wheels have the same tire width. Another problem is due to the earthquake, delivery from Japan is iffy, so I was told 8 weeks delivery time.

    I have 205/50/15 on my '85 GSL and they work perfectly!

    The car looks amazing BTW! I have thought about doing a 13B Turbo swap before, just never pursued it.

  7. #7
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    @SevenHeaven: Thanks. I checked out your web-site and really enjoyed it. Instead of the Panasports, I will probably be going with Rota Wheels RB models, which have the same look. My engine swap is almost complete. The shop has been waiting on a drive shaft for the past six weeks, not sure why its taking so long, something about finding the u-joint for the rear. Here is the latest pic of the installation:


  8. #8
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    How will you be feeding fresh air into the intercooler? Will you be grafting on a Turbo II scoop?

  9. #9
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    We are going to try and get by with water injection to cool the charge. In the picture of the engine bay, the water reservoir for the windshield washers is visible. Except that I have no window washer nozzles, in reality the reservoir is being used for the water injection system. There is a controller that varies the amount of water injected depending on the amount of boost.

  10. #10
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    Re: 85 GSL-SE Restoration and mods

    Quote Originally Posted by pqjim
    @SevenHeaven: Thanks. I checked out your web-site and really enjoyed it. Instead of the Panasports, I will probably be going with Rota Wheels RB models, which have the same look. My engine swap is almost complete. The shop has been waiting on a drive shaft for the past six weeks, not sure why its taking so long, something about finding the u-joint for the rear. Here is the latest pic of the installation:
    Thanks for the kind words about my website! It's been way too long since I updated it, I've been working on my new business venture...

    I love the look of Panasports on a first Gen RX-7. They should look stunning on your car once it is done. The installation of your turbo motor looks very clean thus far, I'm impressed, and I am hard to impress :lol:

    Keep up the good work I can't wait to see it done!

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