Nothing says Rock 'n Roll like an LS V8!
Cars come up for sale all the time, some rare, some fairly commonplace, and some, well some make you want to sell body parts just to afford the monthly gas bill. For many, one such cult car was the Mazda RX-7 - the last great rotary-powered Mazda sports car. Yes, there was the Mazda RX-8, but the FD Mazda RX-7 was the greatest of them all - stylish, nimble, and achingly gorgeous to look at, definitely more so than a modern Mazda 3 or Mazda 6. It just had one problem - it was powered by the 13b rotary engine. For some, that means revving 'til high heaven, but for others, the mere mention of a 13b conjures up nightmares of oil leaks and busted apex seals. That's why it's not too uncommon to see a number of engines take the place of the infamous 13b - most common among which is the General Motors LS V8.
One such model has come up for sale on by a user called PakMan from the 6speedonline forum, and at first glance, you'd likely not even give it a second look. It's a clean 1994 example in red, devoid of wings and body kits, and to be honest, looking much like an NB-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. But while the original RX-7 of its era was powered by a 252 horsepower twin-turbocharged version of the 13b engine, this particular model has had the rotary torn out and replaced by a 6.2-liter GM LS3 small-block V8 crate engine developing somewhere in the region of 450-500 hp. The original five-speed manual gearbox has been replaced, too, by a six-speed T56 capable of handling the torque.
But what makes this V8-powered RX-7 even more special than a mere engine swap is the fact that it was previously owned by none other than Alex van Halen. For those of you who're thinking the only famous van Halen you know is Eddie, you'd be on the right track. Alex van Halen is the older brother of Eddie, and one of the co-founders of the hard-rock band, Van Halen. As it turns out, the Dutch-American drummer is a bit of a gearhead, much like his brother is, but while he liked his music loud and out there, he liked his LS-powered RX-7s a little more subtle. Of course, at full tilt, we're sure the LS3 engine will be about as loud as a Van Halen concert, but what else are you to expect when you're buying a rockstar's former car?