Owning a string of eight different Mazda RX-7s will never make sense to the sort of people who buy Camrys or anything with a camper shell on it, and spending nearly $90,000 on just one of them won't make sense to just about everyone else. It turns out that making sense is overrated, and a glimpse inside Thailand's Masterpiece Body Service and the sort of high-dollar metal it's got underneath its roof confirms as much. But it's Masterpiece's owner—a guy known simply as "Champ"—and his current FD-body RX-7 that have given credibility to not making sense.
Not making sense starts with more RX-7s than any one person ever ought to have owned and ends with just about the most unique mid-'90s Mazda supercar you've ever seen. Here, unique happens by way of R Magic Armor—the RX-7 aero you barely knew existed, of which Champ's FD is the only one this side of the Japanese rotary-tuning firm's own demo cars that's got it, in part because it costs nearly 30 grand and in part because R Magic just doesn't want anybody else to have it.
You think that cute little Mugen radiator cap on your Civic was hard to get and you're underestimating the gravity of all of this. According to Champ, despite Masterpiece's reputation and its history of supercar accolades, R Magic wouldn't budge and insisted that this particular kit just wasn't for sale. Champ interpreted that "no" as a "maybe," though, and for two years browbeat the company, ultimately paying it a visit, which ended with him flying back home with the only R Magic kit to make it out of the shop and with about $30K less to his name.
Right about now you're wondering what in the world makes any aero kit worth more than whatever car it's being bolted onto. And right about now, you're wondering why Google says that you, too, can buy an R Magic aero kit for the FD-chassis RX-7 that you don't have. First, R Magic never wanted to sell any of this, so it's conceivable that a sizable wad of that $30K went toward changing their minds and not toward anything like engineering or production costs. Second, we're talking about functional aero here, not a couple of wussy-sized flaps made out of faux carbon fiber that get double-sided taped onto the outside of your Sentra. According to R Magic, all of this was designed for competitive Time Attack use and exhibits the sort of downforce, the company says, that's comparable to a Super GT race car. And yes, Google's right; today, just about anybody can buy the kit, but it's markedly different from the originals, including Champ's.
Lucky for Champ, the whole buildup goes beyond skin deep and has the sort of power it needs to back up its race car-like livery that pays homage to R Magic's own Time Attack RX-7. Here, the 13B rotary's been ported, which is really just rotary-speak for its being built. Outside, a GReddy T88 turbo supplants the factory pair of T-too-small Hitachis, and inside, the whole setup is tuned to 720 hp by way of an HKS F-CON engine management system. It's simple, it's effective, and it's fast. Remember that part about Champ investing nearly $90,000 into this 25-year-old Mazda and you won't be wondering whether or not corners were cut or any chintzy sort of knock-offs were used. Take the car's underside, for example, where Ohlins dampers and springs replace the tired factory pieces and sit behind Endless brakes and TE37 rims.
Ask Champ and he'll tell you that owning Mazda's third-generation RX-7 has been a dream of his since he was a kid. Or don't ask him and just know that he's owned eight of them and draw the same conclusion. "The car's looks and the sound of its engine," he says, are what's held his attention for so many years. It's sound reasoning, to be sure, for a car that looks right at home two and a half decades later and with an engine that's primary purpose was to make everything faster.
This Mazda won't be going as fast as you think it should be, though. That's mostly because getting this particular RX-7 wasn't as easy as you'd think for Champ; Mazda never sold the car in Thailand in the first place, which means gray-market versions abound. Since he found a legitimate import that could be legally registered, he's not so quick to bang it up on the racetrack. Instead, for Champ, RX-7 number eight spends its time on display, helping promote his body and paint firm and, in the process, confusing the guy in the Camry even more.