A modern take on a classic pedigree

Words & Images // Jordan Leist

It was instantaneous love at first sight for me with Blaise Paris’ retro-cool, SA22C Series 3 RX7 – being a rotary man myself I was chomping at the bit to get up close and personal with the car. To be honest I was only expecting a ‘neatish’ track car but boy did I get that wrong – the car is a masterpiece from top to bottom. I was shocked. It seemed that Blaise didn’t just want a run of the mill car and his efforts well and truly show. “Race cars are mainly about outright pace, so the aesthetic and quality of finish is a lesser priority in the pursuit of pure speed, but I think that’s no excuse not to finish the car well. I mean, it can’t hurt to have them be a nice thing to look at and a nice place to be in the driver’s seat?” He explained to me. Too right, I couldn’t have said it better myself. As soon as you cross paths with Blaise you know what he is a guy that had a plan and stuck to it, plenty of us could learn a thing or two from the wise man.

This wasn’t his first trip down the rotary pathway though, far from it in fact. “My first proper modified car was a 10A fronted ‘72 RX3 coupe. I should have never sold that one – it was a bloody ripper. I bought it here, took it with me when I moved to Sydney and had Mike Mortimer of Rotorsport build me a new engine which I then ran in driving it home across the Nullarbor. Man it copped some abuse” he laughed. When it came time to return back to where his heart lay, Blaise had a few more years under his belt and had refined his tastes quite considerably. “I wanted to build a Mazda that was a little more unique than just a set of wheels and a roll cage. It was always going to be a licenced track car so I started thinking about cars from the past. I wanted to pay homage to a car with a great racing pedigree in this country – the RX7 piloted by living legend – Alan Moffatt, but at the same time I wanted to add in some high tech horsepower and some nice handling tweaks” With a picture in his mind, of a road car with a bolt on race kit and the wide body look, the stage was set to turn a run of the mill, ’85 RX7 into something the rotary gods would love.

Fortunately for Blaise he had an ace up his sleeve – a great friendship and respect for the team at Racing Dynamics (RD). The crew there are very familiar with Mazdas and particularly race track orientated beasts. All of the critical fabrication work was undertaken right in the RD workshop and they shared the exact same passion and desire for success as Blaise did. Being a race car, Blaise felt that it was extra critical that the handling braking departments were at the very top of the list of the build. Serious business happened up on the nose of the seven with a full replacement FC RX7 sub frame slotted in, providing updated bare bones with new rack and pinion steering, and alloy lower control arms and hubs providing the fresh meat. Custom strut towers house MCA 3-way adjustable coilovers with Kings springs. Just as much engineering magic can be spied on the back half too, with custom strut towers that have the shocks converted to coilovers located on top of the diff – much like a V8 touring car. An adjustable watts linkage and fully adjustable 4 link trailing arms round out the handling upgrades. It wouldn’t be a serious race car without stopping power and this bitch has it in spades – Alcon 6 pot clasp the 343mm full floating rotors on the nose whilst custom, full floating, 290mm rotors are sorted with Nissan 2 pot calipers. Finishing things off in perfect fashion are the gold coloured, custom made, 17×8 Forgeline wheels shod with Hankook Z221 Semi Slick 235/17/45 tyres – which in both cases, are the maximum specs allowed for racing.

When it came to powering the Mazda an old school, ported N/A motor would have been fine in the ‘80s and hell, even the ‘90s for that matter but these days, you need forced induction and what works best with rotaries? Well its turbos of course. Technology has come a long way since the old days and the reliability of the parts has thankfully improved. The Series 6 13B engine was dowelled by Terry Stacey with the rotating assembly balanced by Xtreme Rotaries. RA Super Seals replacing the standard Mazda junk. A Series 6 upper intake manifold remains, with a bolstering in the fuel system thanks to a Carter Black lift pump and twin 044 pressure pumps built into an Integrated Engineering billet surge tank. The four 1600cc Indy Blue injectors are forced fed an E85 diet. The amount of Motec components in the car have enough variables built into them to fly a rocket to the moon I reckon. The twin scroll, Borg Warner EFR 8473 Turbo is mated to twin Tial 50mm wastegates – the BOV is integrated into the turbo. The Custom 3.5″ titanium exhaust is undoubtedly the piece de resistance underneath the car. One trick bit of gear design wise is the V-mount Radiator/intercooler (Koyo dual pass) with super short pipe runs designed for maximum response, thus maximum performance. It all counts don’t it. Well, what does all this Rotary goodness equate to? Around the 420hp mark at the rear treads.  Slotted in behind the rotary missile is a Series 5 Turbo 5-speed box with a OS Giken Close ratio gear set as well as a Quartermaster 5.5″ twin plate clutch assembly. A Hilux diff with full floating, Race Products adjustable hubs takes up residence at the rear. The 4.8:1 diff is treated to custom axles and an Eaton system.

Making reference to his old photos and that image in his head, Blaise set about making the car look as good as it was designed to go.  A full Group C Kit was bolted to the body to give it that fat, or should it be phat race look that Blaise desired so much. The bonnet, front guards and front bar are all fibreglass with Lexan windows reducing the weight even further. Race car livery matching that of the of the original Allan Moffatt car was applied by Stewie Liddle of Signhere Signs, minus the dodgy cigarette references – because Blaise races the car, that sort of advertising is not acceptable in Australia. The sharp paint colour you ask? Well, that is VW Candy White. That great looking colour extends itself into the cabin, just as Blaise intended it too.

A custom fibreglass dash from Fibremaz has filled vent holes and a flocked finish with a Motec C125 colour screen being the centre of attention. The interior is blessed with lashings of ridgy didge carbon fibre parts and a bundle of Sparco goodies too.  A full custom race/military spec wiring loom by Autosport Electrics tidies up both the cabin and the bay. Casually looking in the interior you wouldn’t notice the subtle changes like the modified floor pan for the 4-link, or the altered rear wheel arches for strut towers or the modified driver’s floor pan to aid in adding more driving height. You would however notice that superb T45 (cro mo) international standard roll cage by Brad Stacey – now that guys knows his stuff.

“I think the quality of the finish and how cohesive the overall package is integral when building a car, does it all ‘work’ to make it greater than the sum of its parts? If so, you have hit a home run. Personally, I think I have done just that. I haven’t left any one area untouched nor have I invested too heavily in one either. By setting a proper game plan, the build has come together perfectly for me. The greatest reward has been driving the thing and I can’t wait to attack some serious racing like Targa tarmac rallies and the local street car racing and speed event series’”