The first best thing about living in a cultural melting pot like Los Angeles is the food. I can walk two blocks from my house and eat authentic Mexican food that doesn't have the words "supreme" or "MexiMelt" on the menu; drive 20 miles south and eat the best Indian food this side of, well, India; and drive 10 miles east and grub on the tastiest Filipino food that would give Manny Pacquiao a glorious Halo-Halo mustache. The second best thing would have to be the diverse collection of firme hinas, bebots and dime breezies that stroll around throughout every neighborhood in L.A. Let's just say that if you have problems finding a woman in Los Angeles, you gots major problems, son. The last best thing about living in a cultural mash-up like L.A. is that you also become culturally mashed up yourself, which means you know not to rest your chopsticks by sticking them inside your bowl of rice (bad luck), that you pour sake for your friends first before pouring one for your own (good etiquette), and most importantly, you know the proper ways to say other people's names - that means it's "Roh-EL" not "Rah-UL," "Wong" not "Wang" (Whatever. - JW), and when pronouncing "Nguyen," it's pronounced "win" and not "nah-goo-yen." All of which leads me to this rather awkward segue to Tony Nguyen and his '93 Mazda RX-7.
Ever since I've been writing for this magazine, the holy grail of article titles is as follows: 1. "Race to Nguyen," 2. "Nguyen-Nguyen Situation", or 3. "FTN: For The Nguyen." The only problem with actually using any of those titles is the fact that I would need to write about an Nguyen. And it's finally here, after all the heartaches and pains, the many nights of writer's block and the never-ending search for a Nguyen who owned a car worthy of a Super Street feature. It's finally here! Little did I know that it would be so hard to pick which title I'd go with, so I decided to use all of them (see title and subtitle of this article).
At any rate, the most best-ultimate thing about really living in L.A. is, of course, the cars. Tony Nguyen is an L.A. resident and his FD3S was actually hailed as one of the 20 Hottest Cars in L.A. by our sister publication Import Tuner. It's really not that hard to imagine why either. First off, the RX-7 is a thoroughbred that has been making enthusiasts out of men since the `80s. The RX-7, when it came out of the production line in 1979 was an instant hit with its sleek styling, front-mid engine format, lightweight chassis, and the twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine, a machine unknown to the automotive community at the time. The car became so popular, Mazda made generation after generation, landing on the FD version, where its worth took off into super car territory. It garnered double takes on roads, accepted roles on many films, and took its call as Mazda's most legendary ride.
The FD RX-7 was an engineering marvel, too, revered for its forefront design, pure sports car feel, and its technologically complex 1.3-liter twin-turbocharged rotary engine that helped push the FD 255 horsepower out of the box and into many garages across the globe. It featured a 0 to 60 sprint within the 5-second range, a limited-slip differential, anti-lock brakes on all four corners and extra tight suspension. If the Supra was too much money and the NSX was too futuristic, the RX-7 was the car to go with in the `90s.
Tony dreamt of owning an FD3S since elementary school, and he finally realized his dream in '07 when he found the perfect one that suited his budget and his style, which was a slight blend of extravagance and athleticism with a full pop of downright supremacy. Under the hood is a 13B-REW motor, which was also the first mass produced sequential twin-turbocharger setup exported from Japan. In stock form, it runs as high as 276 horsepower. In Tony's case, he has managed to get 345 horses out of that rotary by helping out the stock turbos with an A'PEXi AVC-R turbo boost controller, Walbro fuel pump, and a setup of GReddy intercooler and pipes. He added RC Engineering fuel injectors (800cc primary and 1000cc secondary) to make sure the fuel was pumping in efficiently and correctly. Handling the ignition is an HKS Twin Power component, while he went with NGK to handle the spark. The high horsepower number is an impressive feat, considering he built the car exclusively for weekend racing. Tony did provide a warning, though, when racing: "The only problems I had with this car was the engine, engine, engine! Make sure that you don't overheat!"
Surrounding the RX-7 is a Shine (KS Auto) Burnout body kit, painted over by a fresh coat of BASF Tungsten Pearl Silver paint, usually found on Lexus bodies. Underneath the chassis is a set of 18-inch Enkei RPO3 wheels, 9 inches wide in the front and 10 inches in the rear. Tony decided to go with the Dunlop Direzza tires and made due with TEIN Super Street coilovers and a set of StopTech front and rear brakes to help with the stopping on dimes. Inside the FD is a lighting wonder with a variety of A'PEXi gauges that shine bright on the Bride Exas III seats, MOMO steering wheel and Mazda Speed shifter knob. The one telling improvement in the interior is the center console where switches galore and embedded gauges make for a fun ride down the straightaway or local freeway.
When it's all said and done, Tony dropped $30K to build the car the way he wanted and dreamt about since he was small. "I would do it all again if I had the chance," Tony says, "Time and patience is the key, but it's really all worth it. If I had to give advice to someone looking into getting an FD, I would say to `do it' in a heartbeat. You won't regret it. Rotary: FTW!" Actually, in your case, Tony, it's "Rotary: FTN!"
1993 Mazda RX-7
Owner Tony Nguyen
Hometown Corona, CA
Daily Grind sales manager at skunk2 racing
Power 345 hp @ 6250 rpm; 308 lb-ft of torque @ 5000 rpm
Under The Hood 13B-REW engine; ported by JRX Rotary; Walbro fuel injection; RC Engineering 800cc primary, 1000cc secondary fuel injectors; Walbro fuel pump; HKS air intake and twin power ignition; A'PEXi N1 exhaust, headers, turbo blow-off valve and turbocharger; NGK spark plugs, spark plug wires; GReddy turbo intercooler and pipes; Fluidyne ceramic- coated valve cover
Drivetrain RE Amemiya shift kit, shift lever; Exedy hyper single clutch
Brains A'PEXi AVC-R boost controller
Power 500ps, 54kgm
Stiff Stuff Tein Super Street coilovers; Suspension Techniques front and rear stabilizer bars; Cusco front strut brace; Next Miracle Bar rear brace; Hard Race bushings
Rollers 18x9 +18 Enkei RPO3 wheels with Dunlop Direzza tires (front); 18x10 +22 Enkei RPO3 wheels with Dunlop Direzza tires (rear)
Stoppers Stop Tech 4-piston 332x32 front brakes, Sport Stop rear brakes, stainless steel brake lines; Axxis Ultimate brake pads
Outside Shine (KS Auto) Burnout body kit, custom rear wing; Evo R Sleek lighting; Tungsten Pearl Silver paint; bodywork by Seven Apple; graphics by Promax
Inside Bride Exas III seats; A'PEXi gauges; MOMO steering wheel; Mazda Speed shifter knob; David Brasl widefoot pedals
Ice Alpine head unit; Memphis Audio amplifiers, speakers, wiring
www apexi.com, enkei.com, exedy.com, greddy.com, hksusa.com,more-japan.com (Bride), stoptech.com, tein.com