Forums Forums Builds & Mods Mazda 323 GTX – WRC for the Common Man – Part Deux Reply To: Mazda 323 GTX – WRC for the Common Man – Part Deux

Cameron AlbeaCameron Albea
Post count: 472

Thanks Art and Chris for the advice. Chris, those are the struts I was talking about. Apparently they’re the same size as my current ones, but since they’re built for a heavier hatch, I suppose they’re built to be much stronger, which would be nice. They’re also much more easier to get my hands on for what it’s worth.

Anyway, time for a sorta update on the GTX. The engine is done and is sitting over at Daniel’s shop waiting to be brought back to my garage. All it lacks are a few gaskets because I bought the wrong gasket set off of RockAuto. Got the set for a sohc Mazda b series instead of just buying the set for an 89-91 Miata. Anyway, those won’t be an issue to find and install myself.

In the meantime, a few things about this build have changed. A lot of thought has been given to reliability, and parts availability down the road. This started the other day while browsing the nearly 20 year old yahoo user group dedicated to the GTX.

Most people don’t know that archiving old websites and old user-generated information stored online is a big hobby of mine (see for more info.)  This started a long time ago, but got kicked into high gear when I got the GTX. You see, the GTX used to have its own forum with a dedicated user base and tons of information to boot. Unfortunately, the site was brought down by the creator and, as the story goes, even though people have tried to purchase the old backups of the site off of this created, he doesn’t want it back online because “it’s his.” Anyway, I didn’t want to see the data in this gem of a Yahoo user group go the same way (especially since Yahoo has a tendency to close down a service they host without notice. See:Geocities.) So I found a tool that allowed me to download the user group (and all 77k messages that have been sent on it) to a text file on my computer. A text file so massive that it crashes upon load if opened on anything except my 8 core desktop.

Anyway, coming back to the gtx, I started reading some of the old messages on the board, and the first one I read kicked off this new build idea. It was from the godfather of gtx tuning Mike Welch, where he was talking about the distributor on the gtx, not even 10 years old at the time.

This post from 1997 struck a chord with me. Am I still able to get these parts? Are they going to be like the radiator that has a 4 month lead time from Japan? (true story, btw) and is it going to be worth my time to go through this hassle of finding parts that are NLA, for a car that has no dedicated aftermarket? This goes beyond the distributor too. New turbos are impossible to find. To rebuild one, the only company I’ve found so far that’s willing to do it is in California, and they want nearly 600 for it (fair price all things considered.) And what about the ecu? The hks piggyback is impossible to tune, and the upgradable EPROM chips that went into them are also impossible to find. So long story short, the build is going in a new direction.

I’m going for reliability and a mild performance gain. I want to use parts that either replace something that’s NLA, will make the car safer to run and more reliably able to be enjoyed, will have replacement parts available for at least the next 10 years, and ultimately make the car as cool as it was in the 80’s. So, the plan is simple. I’m going to ditch the vj-14 journal bearing turbo and probably be going to a gt2554R ball bearing turbo. Garrett has been around for a long time and shows no signs of stopping, so replacements should always be available. This turbo is the smallest ball bearing turbo they make, and should spool much quicker than the old one, and it should provide a little more airflow for the car. I’m not looking for power here. I want to stay right around 225hp at the crank, which leaves me enough margin to keep the transmission happy, and is nearly a 100hp increase over stock.

For tuning, I’m planning a Megasquirt two with a coil on plug setup. Thankfully, to build one of these for the gtx is very simple because a kind gentleman has already written a full how-to for the turbo swap and MS install. See here:

So that’s where we stand. Overall, I think this is the best way to do right by the car and make it more simple and easy to work on as time goes on.  Over the next month or two, I’m going to start collecting parts to accomplish this and begin working on this project again. Thanks to those that have kept up with the progress of this old car, and apologies for the long post. Needed to get my thoughts out.

See ya next time.