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1993 Mazda RX-7 - RX-7 Replay

In search of rarity, this owner's fifth FD follows through

Aaron Bonk
Dec 15, 2016
Photographer: Sam Du

In '95, the only thing better than Mazda's sequentially turbocharged, third-generation RX-7 was a sequentially turbocharged, third-generation RX-7 that'd undergone the RE Amemiya treatment. And in '95, you didn't have to be a rotary fan to know who RE Amemiya was. Boy racers with their Civics tried emulating them, middle-agers with their Camaros lost to them, and you, well, you still think about them more than two decades later.

So does Phil Barone, but that's mostly because he's got an RE Amemiya-outfitted FD of his own parked inside his garage. The middle-ager with the Camaro had no idea what made RX-7s that wore the RE Amemiya badge so special and became even more confused when he saw one like Barone's with its Porsche-converted front end—a transformation that divides RX-7 lovers, offends Euro snobs, and confuses just about everybody else.

1993 mazda rx 7 ad9 fenders Photo 2/6   |   1993 Mazda Rx 7 Ad9 Fenders

Limit Barone's FD to its German-inspired headlights and Japanese fascia, though, and you'll do yourself a disservice. This FD defines thoroughness, and it shows in the 13B-REW that's been overhauled by Pennsylvania's KDR Performance and fitted with a single Borg Warner S366 turbo that eliminates the complexities of Mazda's two-tiered layout of boost and allows for a whole lot more power. Here, Barone's addressed every corner of the FD, from the one-off air shocks developed by Broadway Static Suspension to the 10.5-inch Advans out back that fill the RE Amemiya fenders with precision.

Builds this polished don't get done by the inexperienced, and when Barone goes on to tell you that this is his fifth RX-7, how exactly this one came together so seemingly easily starts making sense. Since '92, when the second-generation model was introduced for the '93 model year, Barone says, he'd wanted an RX-7. The only things standing in his way were his age—he was only 13—and his finances—he didn't have any. A job at his parents' grocery store and seven years later meant that a low-mileage '94 was his. "It was the perfect FD," he says, one that introduced him to the world of pressurized rotaries, getting exposed at local car shows and, ultimately, getting sold off. "I was offered the right amount and sold it," he says. "But I couldn't live without driving a rotary.

1993 mazda rx 7 alcantara leather seats Photo 3/6   |   1993 Mazda Rx 7 Alcantara Leather Seats

Barone rinsed and repeated that same storyline with another '94, this one with a single turbo conversion and a body kit and, like the last one, regretted the sale before he'd made it to the bank. "After that one," he says, "I said 'no more,'" going on to tell about the '93 he'd pick up next. Here, Barone told himself the same sort of lies that you do, like how he planned on actually keeping this one, going so far as to say how it'd remain stock. An opportunity for him to nab Veilside's ultra-rare Fortune body kit meant the second half of his promise was already broken and was the start of Barone's most intense FD buildup yet. "I had to have it," the self-appointed "JDM junky" says about the aero. "I like rare parts and this was rare."

It won't be breaking news for you to hear that this FD, too, was sold off, leading to Barone's fourth rotary. "The sound, the performance, and the looks had me thinking I needed another one," he says. Only this time the sound was different. "I thought about getting a Supra, but the prices were crazy," he says. So he did the next most logical thing and swapped Toyota's 2JZ-GTE into another FD. His rationale? "What's better than two JDM cars in one?" he says.

1993 mazda rx 7 greddy top mount intercooler Photo 4/6   |   1993 Mazda Rx 7 Greddy Top Mount Intercooler

Up on the auction block, again, was another Barone special, followed by another RX-7 for himself—this one a '93—only, so far, it appears to be his last. "I missed the rotary engine and its sound," he says—again—which led to the fifth and final build that, according to Barone, is full of more rare parts than anything he'd put together thus far. "I wanted to outdo myself for hopefully the last time," he says. Again. "I went on to the Yahoo! Japan auctions but couldn't find anything rare enough." That is, until he came across the RE Amemiya Porsche-meets-Mazda front-end that costs more than the car it's meant to bolt onto. Combine that with the rest of the aero that Barone handpicked and had modified to fit along with the reinforced 13B mill and what you end up with is an FD that, in all likelihood, won't be sold off anytime soon.

The six months Barone waited for the Japanese-made body pieces gave him the time he needed to execute just about everything else. "I went from the interior to the exterior and, finally, the motor was built," he says about the order of operations that culminated into the whole thing being sprayed Lamborghini Aventador orange. "Red? Nah. White? Nah. Yellow? Nah," he says about what was going through his head before seeing that Lambo in person, at which time he realized that orange was his color.

1993 mazda rx 7 re amemiya ac037 porsche front end conversion Photo 5/6   |   1993 Mazda Rx 7 Re Amemiya Ac037 Porsche Front End Conversion

You think the RX-7's temperamental nature and bad rap are why Barone's cycled through so many of them, but you're wrong. He'd experienced the infamous vacuum line failures with his first RX-7, yet went on to buy four more. He knows just how expensive and sought after much of its aftermarket wares are yet keeps on searching for them. "Believe me, along the way, not everything went perfectly," he says. "We had fitment issues and tuning issues, but when you have dedicated people working on the car, it gets done."

Speaking of done, that's one thing Barone isn't. Instead of offing the FD, plans for swapping out its boosted 13B for Mazda's bruiser of a four-rotor, naturally aspirated 26B are already cooking. Combine that with the face of a Porsche and the color of an Aventador, and that guy in the Camaro is liable to lose it.

1993 mazda rx 7 super greddy rear bumper Photo 6/6   |   1993 Mazda Rx 7 Super Greddy Rear Bumper
By Aaron Bonk
417 Articles
1993 Mazda RX-7 - RX-7 Replay
Tuning Menu
Owner: Phil Barone
Hometown: Bellmore, NY
Occupation: RX-7 Extremist
Engine: KDR-built, half-bridge-ported 13B-REW; Rotary Extreme engine studs; RX-7 Specialties 2mm Apex seals; cryo-treated internals; custom ported intake manifold; Borg Warner S366 turbo; GReddy exhaust manifold, external wastegate; HKS blow-off valve, turbo flute; GReddy top-mount intercooler; Empire Performance intercooler piping, 3" exhaust; 850cc injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump; AEM water/methanol injection; HKS Twin Power ignition; Koyo radiator; Super Now oil cap; RE Amemiya radiator cap
Drivetrain: ACT clutch and lightweight flywheel
Engine Management: A'PEXi Power FC
Footwork & Chassis: custom Broadway Static Suspension air dampers
Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5" front, 18x10.5" rear Advan RS-DF wheels; 245/35R18 front, 275/40R18 rear Nitto NT05 tires
Brakes: StopTech rotors; Hawk pads; custom steel braided lines
Exterior: Lamborghini Aventador paint by Nations Custom Auto Body; RE Amemiya AC037 Porsche front-end conversion, AD9 fenders, carbon-fiber side skirts, Super GReddy rear bumper, carbon-fiber rear diffuser and canards, fog lights, taillights; EVO-R Performance Motorsports carbon-fiber wing
Interior: alcantara leather seats, headliner, pillars; Nardi steering wheel; RX-8 shift knob; EVO-R Performance Motorsports Mickey Mouse gauge pod, carbon-fiber door panels, door inserts, trunk cover; RE Amemiya door sills; SakeBomb Garage passenger-side foot rest; AEM wideband controller; GReddy Profec B-spec boost controller
Thanks You: Dave at KDR Performance; Marc at RavSpec; Jay at EVO-R Performance Motorsports; George at Nations Custom Auto Body; Jaze at Broadway Static Suspension

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