Japanese tuning, in its purest form, encompasses a representation of style and functionality not often captured here in the States. While there may be thousands of classic and current Japanese platforms being modified in the U.S. each year, it’s a rarity to find cars today that really define the essence of a time attack machine assembled across the Pacific. Though these types of projects are few and far between, every once in a while a certain car appears that oozes Japanese style.
Xiong Kou Lor is a guy who, simply put, gets it. That’s painfully apparent from the first time you lay eyes on his gorgeous ’89 Mazda RX-7. As a film director would probably say about an actress cast to play a starring role, “She’s just got the look.” This FC would look just at home on the pages of Option Magazine as it does here in Modified. But don’t be fooled by the flawlessly executed and incredibly detailed car before you—this build was far from a walk in the park.
It all began one fateful day in high school. A friend introduced Xiong Kou to an episode of Initial D, the classic Japanese anime cartoon featuring the life of a teenage boy and his tofu-delivering AE86. Though he wasn’t interested in cars and had no formal experience wrenching on automobiles, Xiong Kou was fascinated. As he dove into the series and began to learn more about Japanese FR platforms, he became obsessed. At the time, most American enthusiasts were focused on FF platforms. To top it off, most had never even heard of drifting.
Always striving to be different, Xiong Kou wanted to set himself apart from the crowd. At 17 years of age, he picked up his first car: a ’90 Mazda RX-7 GTU. “I wanted a car that no one had, and further studying of the rotary engine made me fall in love with its uniqueness,” he explains. After enjoying his first FC for a few years, Xiong Kou found that his Mazda simply became too impractical for daily use. Eventually, he ended up selling the car. But as fate would have it, he stumbled upon an ’89 FC RX-7 Turbo 2 for sale with a blown engine just a few short months later. What was meant to be a quick repair and flip turned into a project that would span the next decade of Xiong Kou’s life and change him in ways he had never imagined.
Fascinated with his new Initial D–worthy rotary, Xiong Kou spent years researching and learning about Japanese tuning culture. The introduction of the RE-Amemiya time attack FC RX-7 in 2002 became his ultimate inspiration, and he set out to build an FC of his own that would truly capture his dream car’s Japanese spirit. The hours spent poring over copies of Hyper Rev, Option Magazine, and Japanese blogs he couldn’t understand became the extensive blueprint for his eventual masterpiece. But even if he collected a slew of the most sought after parts from the Land of the Rising Sun, there was always the concern in the back of his mind that things just wouldn’t click together in the end.
One might argue that the coolest part of this wild RE-Amemiya-themed FC build is the exterior. A host of aero components were sourced from Sakae Inukai, the sales rep for RE-Amemiya in Japan. With Inukai-san’s help, Xiong Kou was able to get his hands on a complete aero kit, including a front bumper, canards, hood, side steps, GT wing, diffuser, side mirrors, and headlight air duct. Though it took more than six months for these über-rare components to hit the States, it’s clear to see they were well worth the wait. The result is an incredibly unique look that screams Japanese GT racer.
In addition to the RE-Amemiya pieces, a set of Panspeed over fenders were added to complete the aggressive look. When everything had finally arrived stateside, Xiong Kou collaborated with Elvis Espino of Nisma Auto Paint Repair to bring his vision to reality. Xiong Kou gave Elvis full creative freedom with the color of the exterior, and the resulting Mitsubishi Dover White finish does more than justice to this distinctly Japanese machine.
But the plan didn’t call for a car with just a pretty exterior. Bucking the trend to stuff an American V-8 under that rare RE-Amemiya bonnet, Xiong Kou stuck with a street-ported 13B with a twin turbo setup modeled after the one found in—you guessed it—RE-Amemiya’s time attack car. A pair of TD05-14B turbochargers work their magic on the Wankel powerplant while a slew of supporting modifications were added to complete the setup, including a number of items from the newer FD RX-7 chassis. Though he left the actual engine assembly work to the pros (when it comes to rotaries, we can’t say we blame him!), everything else was custom fabricated by Xiong Kou, despite a definitive lack of experience in the automotive world—a classic example of a passionate individual with the motivation to learn.
This FC’s interior is executed in a way that would make any time attack mechanic smile. After years of searching for a clean pair of discontinued Bride Zeta II bucket seats, Xiong Kou finally found the perfect set for sale on the Honda forums. The Zeta IIs bring a distinct period-correct feel to the FC’s cockpit that simply couldn’t be achieved with more modern-day buckets. Sabelt harnesses work alongside a modified and repainted Safety 21 rollcage to perpetuate the racing theme. Once again, Xiong Kou turned to his contact at RE-Amemiya to source a rare D-cut steering wheel and shift knob. In true drift car spirit, a custom gauge cluster composed primarily of Auto Meter Phantom gauges adds a unique touch to the car’s interior. All unnecessary panels and trim pieces have been removed, while the sheetmetal has been painted white to match the car’s exterior. It’s hard to deny that Xiong Kou hit all of the small details in his pursuit of the perfect interior.
No purpose-built machine would be complete without taking the necessary steps to ensure that everything is in order where the rubber meets the road. Without the ability to put the power to the ground and negotiate the twisties efficiently, all of Xiong Kou’s efforts would be in vain. A set of Tein RA coilovers were chosen as the backbone of the suspension system, with a number of braces and bushings provided by Mazdatrix and Cusco assisting with chassis flex.
As far as rolling stock is concerned, this FC is equipped with a set of lightweight 17x9.5 super brilliant coating (SBC) Enkei RPF1s clad with race-ready 255/40 Advan A048 tires. This combination adds as much to the car’s Japanese time attack machine appearance as it does to its on-track performance.
Despite the fact that Xiong Kou had never turned a wrench in his life, he spent countless hours over a span of more than a decade learning to complete the needed tasks himself whenever he possibly could. It’s this kind of dedication and love for a car that results in the detailed, long-term builds we commonly see coming out of Japan. It’s safe to say the massive amount of time and effort put forth have more than paid off, with the finished product being a rotary-powered beast that would look just at home lapping Tsukuba circuit as it does cruising the streets and highways between Wisconsin and downtown Chicago. But like any true long-term time attack build, it’s a never-ending process. There’s always something to be improved on in search of the perfect lap. If we had to guess, this won’t be the last we hear of Xiong Kou Lor and his wild FC.
Specs & Details
1989 Mazda RX-7
Engine 1.3L twin turbocharged 13B rotary
Engine Modifications Mazda 13bt (street ported with extra dowel pins); Mazda FD3S upper intake manifold, throttle body, dual oil coolers, alternator with double sheave pulley; GReddy elbow, type R wastegate; Racing Beat oil baffle plate, high oil pressure regulator, exhaust pre-silencer, aluminum main drive pulley; Banzai Racing oil pan brace, 1,600cc secondary injectors, SX fuel pressure regulator, Marren pulsation damper, Earl’s stainless steel braided fuel lines, fittings; Golan fuel filter, Aeromotive fuel filter, Toyota MK4 Supra in-tank fuel pump, Bosch 044 external fuel pump, Speedmachine surge tank, custom intercooler core, piping, downpipe; Synapse diverter valve, Afco dual pass radiator, Flexalite dual electric fans, ARC swirl pot, header tank; RE-Amemiya twin-turbo exhaust manifold, titanium cat-back exhaust; twin TD05-14b turbochargers, Ultra ignition wires, Jegs oil catch can
Engine Management Haltech E6K EMS
Suspension Racing Beat DTSS eliminator bushings, front sway bar; Mazdatrix rear chamber adjuster, three-point front strut tower brace; Cusco rear strut tower bar, Tein RA coilovers (10kg/8kg), inner fender brace, SARD tow hooks
Drivetrain ORC Super Single clutch kit with flywheel, clutch line; Mazdaspeed transmission mounts, engine mounts
Interior Bride Zeta II seats, seat rails; Sabelt harnesses, RE-Amemiya D-cut steering wheel, shift knob; custom gauge cluster, Auto Meter Phantom tachometer, speedometer, oil temp, oil pressure, fuel level gauges; Omori boost gauge, Defi water temp gauge SPA dual voltage and fuel pressure gauge, Innovative MTXL air fuel ratio gauge, Cusco kill switch, modified Safety21 rollcage, Taylor battery box, Optima yellow top battery, Allview rearview mirror
Exterior RE-Amemiya front bumper, canards, headlight air duct, hood, side step, GT wing, diffuser with side and center generators, oval GT mirrors; Panspeed over fenders, Juran gurney flap, JDM Mazda front side signals, rear side molding; Mitsubishi Dover white paint
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Enkei SBC RPF1 17x9.5 +18, 3mm wheel spacers (f), Advan A048 255/40/7 tires, Rays duraluminum lug nuts, Hawk brake pads (f/r), Powerslot rotors, Racing Beat brake lines, Mazdatrix ABS delete
Special Thanks Elvis for helping me make my dream into a reality—the long nights of staying up until 3 a.m. are over. Without the help of RHDJapan and Inukai-san, I could not have obtained my parts—“arigatou” to both. My parents for lending me their garage for the past nine years, my family and friends for their support with this hobby, and my friends from Chicago: Junkhouse