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1988 Mazda RX-7 - Houston Homecoming

RE Amemiya tribute RX-7 seeks to achieve its "Final Form"

Danny Nguyen
Dec 2, 2017
Photographer: Danh Phan

Since the age of 14, Cristian Tyrell has been fending for and finding himself. He lived back and forth between Houston, Texas, and the Portland, Oregon, and skateboarding was his constant, four-wheeled passion until a buddy he skated with pulled up to the skatepark in a modified Honda Civic. "Hell yeah! A dope skater with a dope whip! I wanna be that guy!" That was the point where just being interested in cars turned into something that was going to change the course of his life.

1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition lexan headlight covers Photo 2/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition Lexan Headlight Covers

Done with Portland and ready to make Houston home again, Cristian bought a Kia Sephia for $300 and drove it the whole way with nothing more than a backpack stuffed with clothes and his skateboard. He settled in working at Whole Foods Market and found himself looking more in depth at cars.

Cristian picked up an '81 Toyota Corolla and started toying with it—running the streets in a car most people guessed was a Starlet or Charger. "It wasn't until I was at a gas station and this Puerto Rican guy looked at my car and said, 'Hey, nice Corolla. You know what we do in PR with those? We throw rotaries in them.' This is when I got the rotary bug."

1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition 13B rotary engine Photo 6/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition 13B Rotary Engine

Diving deep, he learned all he could about rotaries—known for being smooth and efficient but petrol-thirsty and lacking torque when compared to traditional piston engines. The Corolla was ditched to make way for an '88 Mazda FC RX-7 GXL, and in the one year he owned it, he learned the ins and outs of the naturally aspirated rear-wheeled liftback. Parting ways with the FC after totalling it, he was set on getting another one, but this time, the turbo model. With some luck, he found a gem in a 10th anniversary edition based on the Turbo II model.

It was driven hard until the motor blew, and Cristian attempted to rebuild it but eventually let the experts at Rotary Performance in Garland, Texas, build a Frankenstein out of three different engines he supplied. The result: a built street-ported stage 4 turbocharged 13B that still runs like a champ. "Performance first, aesthetics later." The next order of business was to transform the bumper-missing, plasti-dipped turd into more than a reliable eyesore.

1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition RE amemiya style rear diffuser Photo 10/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition RE Amemiya Style Rear Diffuser

It was during this stage of the build that he got to know the guys behind Final Form USA—a unique Japanese parts distributor and importer based in Houston. With proper guidance and knowledge from these local experts, he outfitted the FC with Volk Racing TE37SL wheels wrapped in Falken RT615K+ tires and also installed a list of Powered by MAX suspension components. Finer details like RE Amemiya bodywork, Car Shop GLOW LED taillights, LED headlights, and a fresh coat of white paint completed the exterior makeover. As a driver who enjoys drifting in his car, he feels at home sitting in the Mazda RX-8 seat with a Nardi rally steering wheel at his reach and an array of gauges in sight inside the cabin.

Since February, Cristian's FC has remained in this beautiful state, but he's set a goal to get more aggressive with a widebody kit and also retune the car to squeeze additional power. Unfortunately, as we all know, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston hard with torrential rain, leading to devastating flooding that also affected Cristian as his apartment was completely underwater and his daily driver was ruined. Miraculously, his RX-7 was somehow spared from disaster.

1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition nardi deep corn steering wheel Photo 14/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition Nardi Deep Corn Steering Wheel

Staying positive with a great crew throwing nothing but support his way while he rebuilds his home and his life, Cristian still has his eyes set on completing his vision for his car and its final form. "I won't give up now as I have already put too much effort into this car. This is my passion and I mean to see it through." Respect.

1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition RE amemiya style rear diffuser Photo 18/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition RE Amemiya Style Rear Diffuser
1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition GReddy front mount intercooler Photo 22/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition Greddy Front Mount Intercooler
1988 mazda RX 7 10th anniversary edition nardi deep corn steering wheel Photo 26/26   |   1988 Mazda RX 7 10Th Anniversary Edition Nardi Deep Corn Steering Wheel
By Danny Nguyen
23 Articles
1988 Mazda RX-7 - Houston Homecoming
Tuning Menu
Owner: Cristian Tyrell
Hometown: Houston, TX
Occupation: Associate Team Leader at Whole Foods Market
Power: 290 whp
Engine: street-ported 13B engine by Rotary Performance; BNR Supercars stage-4 turbocharger; A'PEXi twin-chamber blow-off valve, GT-spec exhaust; GReddy front-mounted intercooler; Koyo radiator; Pineapple Racing oil pan; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; Aeromotive Trick Flow fuel pressure regulator; 1,680cc secondary injectors; custom trailing ignition system, straight midpipe, engine and chassis wire harness tuck; HKS Super Mega Flow air filter; relocated fuse box, coil packs; Banzai Racing FD3S to Series 4 jumper harness; FD3S intake temperature sensor; custom LRB Speed cooling plate; Black Magic 160 e-fan
Drivetrain: ACT six-puck clutch; stainless steel braided clutch line
Engine Management: A'PEXi Power FC
Footwork & Chassis: Powered by MAX coilovers, upper pillow ball mounts, adjustable camber plates, solid subframe mounts, solid differential mounts; solid aluminum motor mounts
Brakes: FD3S 4-piston brake calipers; StopTech brake pads; stainless steel braided brake lines
Wheels: 18.5x9.5" +22 front, 18x10.5" +15 rear Volk Racing TE37SL wheels
Tires: 225/40R18 front, 245/40R18 rear Falken RT615K+ tires
Exterior: Car Shop GLOW LED taillights; Rize Japan carbon-fiber front canards; RE-Amemiya-style FC2000 front bumper, side sill extensions; RE-Amemiya-style carbon-fiber pro rear diffuser, side vortex generators, center air diverter; lexan headlight covers; 35mm OEM-style widebody front fenders; OEM Series 5 body moldings, rear bumper; LED headlights, turn signals; new paint
Interior: Nardi 330mm deep corn rally steering wheel; NRG short hub, quick release; Blitz boost gauge; Innovate AFR gauge; Banzai Racing PFC commander holder; OEM RX-8 seats
Thanks you: First and foremost, my girlfriend, Jolene, for the motivation and believing my dream was achievable; David Do, the man behind Final Form USA, for being a great friend and mentor and helping me transform the turd with his guidance and knowledge; good friend Ken Suzuki; the Final Form crew, Clay, Khiem, Andy, John for having my back and supporting me throughout the build process; and huge shoutout to Falken Tires, Nick, and Rich for all the love they've shown

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