Deathmobile: RX7 With A Blown 383 Chevy That Destroys Tires At 70 And Will Kill You (w/VIDEO)

Deathmobile: RX7 With A Blown 383 Chevy That Destroys Tires At 70 And Will Kill You  (w/VIDEO)

(Photos by Dave Nutting –  Words by Nutting/Lohnes) – This is a car that makes a big block Shelby Cobra look like the most sensible thing since the GEO Metro. It is by far the nastiest, gnarliest sounding street car I have ever heard. It is not “safe”, it is not comfortable, technically it is not legal in the vast majority of the United States, and it is a car with an ethos that harks back to the earliest days of hot rodding. Make no mistake about it. You may love this thing or you may hate it but what you cannot do is deny that the vehicle before you is a hot rod. This thing is the very definition of a hot rod. This is the kind of car they made movies about in the 1950s.

Exploitation films like Drag Strip Riot, Hot Rods To Hell, and a host of others played into the fears of the general public that young guys were building fast, dangerous, powerful cars and driving them wildly around town. While owner Dave Hershey doesn’t drive this thing around town like a maniac (much), he does a hell of a job handling the beast under closed conditions as I witnessed. I also witnessed a burst of acceleration while entering the highway at 65mph that caused the rear tires of the car to go instantly into fog bank mode. With a curb weight of about 3,000lbs (touch more, touch less) and 843hp to the wheels according to the last dyno session, this car is not something to be trifled with. It’ll kill you and not think twice about it.

In short, if you hate it…blame Nutting.


[box_light]Nutting: To understand how we came across this car, I need to start with a confession: When I’m not obsessing over all things related to General Motor’s G-body platform, I’m busy geeking out over vehicles of not-so-domestic breeding, more specifically the Subaru WRX and WRX STI.

Chad gives me a good helping of crap every chance he gets about this, while Brian is a little more tolerant given that I park my car down the street when we hang out so the neighbors don’t see it.

However, once in a while my love of these AWD misfits pays off, most recently in the case of this 1993 Mazda RX7. I spotted Hershey’s car for sale in the local For Sale section of a Subaru message board and knew that it was 100% Bangshift approved based on the description and a few short videos of the car tearing up a parking lot. Aside from the handicap that is the original powerplant (Bring it, rotory enthusiasts) the third-generation RX7 is an iconic 90’s design, and the addition of a blown SBC completes the Frankenstein’s Monster-vibe. Brian however, needed a little convincing…[/box_light]

I did need some convincing. If this was some pro-built car with a V8 and meant to go drifting than it wasn’t really something I was interested in. I respect the builders and love the fact that these light cars can swallow LS and traditional small blocks like Skittles, but until I figured out there was something truly sinister about this car and the fact that it was built by a couple of guys who know that it is bat shit scary my heart was not set on hooking up with Hershey to shoot a feature on it.

[box_light]Nutting: Typical for winter in New England, the weather forecast for the weekend fluctuated between clouds, light rain, and chance of apocalypse, but by Friday the weatherman got his act together and predicted mid-40s and cloudy. Perfect weather for some tire-shredding.

Brian and I arrived at Dave’s shop around 7 AM, and I promptly started drooling over his Subaru collection, or as Brian puts it: “Spouting off about DCCD, EJ207s, WTFBBQ, etc. Some Japanese nonsense”.

We pushed the car out of the shop to avoid the risk of blowing the rear wall down on the woman who owns the shop space next door and fired up the beast.

Small woodland creatures ran for shelter, windows rattled, birds flying overhead on their migration North reconsidered their decision and headed back South, and a woman who just left her house down the street pulled out her cell phone, apparently to dial 911.

I looked at Brian: “It’s actually not that loud”.
Brian yelled back: “Are you fu#$king high?”[/box_light]

Enough with the back story. This is a 1993 Mazda RX7 and it began its life as a highly desirable R1 model which means that it came with a different nose, better suspension, better interior, and Z-Rated tires. The good news is all of that shit is gonzo, except for the nose. Somewhere an RX7 enthusiast’s soul just cried a little. The 383 traditional style Chevy small block was installed into the car some time ago originally by Dave’s friend and ace fabricator Bob Perry. Perry has a shop in Rhode Island and applying V8 power to small import cars is his specialty. The engine was originally in a first generation Camaro owned by a buddy of Perry’s and when that car left the fold, the motor came out and as a bit of a pet project Perry started to mock it into place under the hood of the RX7. It sat in the corner of the shop with the motor installed for a year. It had no other driveline and basically it was kind of a novelty item sitting there that would make bad ass noise when called upon to do so. Enter the internet. 

Dave Hershey saw a video of this car sitting in the shop and rumbling away. He became obsessed with the thing and eventually convinced Perry to sell him the car and then the pair of them set to work on actually finishing it. As you’d expect the cross member in the front of the car is a custom made piece and has actually been changed a time or two. When the car first hit the road, the front ride height was gawky and bad so they actually raised the motor some and were able to lower the front of the car to get the stance they wanted. The blower didn’t fit either way, but with the motor up, it really didn’t fit, so the hood was customized with a grinder or saw to make room for the ProCharger F1C blower. The oil pan was another area of clearance issues for the pair as Perry was finally able to find the most shallow small block oil pan anyone makes and it fit well.

The engine is a 383 stroker small block Chevy with Motown cylinder heads, long tube headers, a cam of unknown specs, a Carb Shop prepared Holley blow through carb, long tube headers, a Victor Jr. intake manifold, and the aforementioned ProCharger F1C that is proudly announcing its presence through the hood of the car. The single pipe exhaust system is made of 4″ tube normally used on International school buses. There is no muffler, which leads to the vicious sound that this car makes. At idle it has a crispness and bellowing tone that is really unmatched by anything I have ever heard. The single pipe seems to amplify the sound and when the engine actually goes to work it is like Satan’s saxaphone at full wail. Just the meanest sonofabitch ever.

 The car has four wheel disc brakes from a Nissan 300ZX and the center section for the independent rear end is also from a 300ZX. The axles are from an Infinity Q45 according to Perry, who had to have them machined down to work right in the RX7.  The headlights aren’t really part of the program. The directionals could be a little more functional but Hershey has functioning arms, so that’s covered. There are brake lights. There is not a roll cage and this will be something that lots of people harp on. “What do you do without a roll cage?” Frankly, you drive the damned car. Not every hot rod needs a roll cage. Not everything needs to be a race car. This thing clearly is not. It is almighty powerful, a handful to drive, and on the very ragged edge for streetability, but it is reasonably easy to get in and out of. That’s a bonus…right?

There’s a decent sized crack in the windshield from the chassis of the car twisting under acceleration and Hershey claims that when it achieves even the faintest whiff of traction it will actually torque one of the front wheels off of the ground. There have been two small pieces of steel added to the chassis but nothing of any significance…or usefulness.

According to Hershey, anything over quarter throttle results in near instantaneous ignition of the rear tires. The little 245s literally do not stand a chance back there. Hershey is a high performance driving instructor who has a year of experience in the seat of this thing but honestly, I wasn’t running for a ride in it. This is one I was more than happy to experience as a vested spectator.

When we asked Dave if he would be interested in doing some burnouts and stuff for us so that we could get some action photos, he said sure and then went on an insane mission to wipe a pair of freshly mounted tires completely flat. He was granted honorary Aussie citizenship after the display he put on.

[box_light]Nutting: While watching the car puke coolant from the overflow after a several minute, tire-shredding donut session that left the single radiator fan working with its tongue literally hanging out, I came to a realization: As Hershey will freely admit, for any purpose other than automotive violence this car fails in every way, yet somehow it’s also perfect in its single-mindedness. I’d love to own it, but first I need to review the terms of my life insurance policy.[/box_light]

As we like to do, we’re going to tell the rest of the story on this car through the photos and captions below.



The glorious noise that this car makes begins right here. This 383 with unknown compression and cam specs has Motown heads, a ProCharger F1C, and makes close to 1,000hp at the crank.


Pretty? Hell no. Functional? You bet. Hey, we’d take this thing with a little sack hanging out rather than some major tall dorko cowl hood.

There’s no mistaking the high pitched whine of a ProCharger and this F1C certainly has it. The car is swallowing somewhere around 20 lbs of boost to make the power levels that Hershey claims it makes.

Before reworking the crossmember, the car sat an inch higher than stock in the front. The guys actually raised the engine up to allow the nose of the car to come down some and we think that they nailed the rake. It looks ready to do some damage from this vantage point.

This is one RX7 with a 4″ exhaust that cannot be mocked. That’s no fart can there, it is a pipe that bellows like the devil’s own organ. With no muffler between it and the header collectors, the noise is pure combustion brutality. We were cruising this monster around at 7AM on a Sunday morning and got a couple of laughs…including one smile and chuckle from a passing cop!

The interior is very basic. Hershey is a tall guy so he barely wedges himself inside the car. There have been a couple gauges added to the center stack and that shifter is hooked to a Turbo 400 transmission. Hershey said that he had blown up a pile of T56 stick boxes before deciding to go to the tried and true GM bomb proof automatic.

Like we said, beauty is not part of the program here. The fuel cell is plopped right into the former “trunk” of the car with the battery mounted just ahead of it. The car took a big drink of fuel before we headed off for the morning. No report on how the fumes are inside the cabin, but we’re thinking that the exhaust rumbling (which Hershey combats with ear plugs on long drives) may render most senses useless by the time they would be a problem anyway.

If there is anything that is the opposite of the rotary engine that came in this car, a ProCharged 383 is probably it.

The carb shop modified Holley handles fuel delivery with the hat providing the massive wall of air to smash it all into the engine. MSD Ignition products light the whole thing off and keep it lit.

If the blower plumbing were not exposed and the thing had any sort of exhaust system on it, the RX7 would be a killer sleeper. It currently announces its presence from about a county away.

Burning tire in this car is something that requires little effort but max skill to keep the thing from throwing itself off paved surfaces.

Dave had bolted on a new set of tires for our camera a couple days before this shoot. He made very short work of them.

Hershey was working the car spinning great donuts and basically putting on our own one man Aussie burnout contest!

After all that RPM and work at low speed, the little radiator couldn’t keep up and the car got a little on a toasty side. When Dave came to a stop the RX7 was breathing kind of heavy.

When the car stopped there was a weirdo noise coming from under the hood. Once it cooled off we lifted the hood to investigate and found…


The source of the barfage. The top had popped off the overflow can. The radiator in the car is admittedly small and was made more for concerns of fitting the space than meeting the needs of the blown V8. Dave has the car for sale so the first thing we’d tell a new owner is to get a bunch more radiator into the car and step up the fan program from the tiny single electric fan that is on the engine now. The car cruised and handled city traffic fine, it was the low speed, high RPM stuff that got it huffy.

Like we said from the get-go, you can love this thing or hate it, but the RX7 with a blown V8 and 840hp at the tires is a hot rod in the most primal sense. It is over powered and under-chassied. It lacks a roll bar. It is rough like a bar fighter. The car has a temper like a guy jacked up on PCP because it is unpredictable, violent, and hard to handle. This car will kill you in a heart beat and there is something very cool about that. Dave Hershey has this car up for sale. Email me – and I can put you in touch with him….if you dare.


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19 thoughts on “Deathmobile: RX7 With A Blown 383 Chevy That Destroys Tires At 70 And Will Kill You (w/VIDEO)

  1. Tim G

    This blog Item is USELESS without VIDEO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I love it. LMAO

  2. tigeraid

    bad. ass.

    Take a beautiful car like an rx7, remove the problem (the stupid wankel engine), and you’ve got a wicked car.

  3. Beagle

    Rotary – not rotory.

    Rotory implies helicopter.

    swap the blower for a turbo and keep it under the hood. Turbos make good mufflers. And fix the cigarette lighter.

  4. Will Bier

    It looks like one of the Borg from star trek in the front on pic that thing is wthe poster child for clinical evil

  5. dg

    while it sounds good, who needs a “donut maker”
    Let’s see some Strip & Times video…….please



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