The roots of this '93 Mazda RX-7 date back to SEMA '03, when it was built and displayed by Nitrous Express and eventually became a Super Street cover car a few months later. Fast forward 14 years later and the same FD returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center, not with Nitrous Express but front and center inside the AutoMeter booth with a whole different look and attitude. Under the hood, instead of a nitrous-powered rotary was a 1,200-whp turbocharged LS; gone is the bright red Hell Rott paint, in its place a subdued light "Pistachio" hue, which inevitably became the car's nickname. The exterior has been updated from its dated body kit with a Rocket Bunny widebody; finally, let's not forget about all the one-off carbon and fabricated bits the FD now sports, which goes to show this is not your off-the-shelf build but something that's completely custom and unique.
It wowed us so much that last November we awarded the man responsible, Sam Morris, as the overall winner in our third Super Street SEMA Awards. Unfortunately, the 12-year-long project still had a few loose ends to tie up following SEMA, but we visited Southern Florida last spring when we were finally able to visit Sam's shop, Gooichi Motors, snap some killer pics of the PistachioFD at Palm Beach International Raceway, and put together this feature and interview which you're bound to remember for years to come.
SUPER STREET: What is Gooichi Motors and how'd it start?
SAM MORRIS: Gooichi started as a motorcycle club. I got busier and busier building buddies' bikes so I decided to open up a shop, specializing in everything from metric choppers to show-winning Ducatis and turbo GSX-R 1000 drag bikes. We've been jumping around from bikes to cars over the years. The car side has been just as diverse-1,000whp late-model Mopars to Skylines, Kei trucks, Subarus, and turbo Hondas-basically, anything that has an engine and can be boosted or customized. We're also both from Kansas. We had a shop out there for 10 years and then decided to get out of the cold and move to South Florida.
SS: When you say "we," it's just you and Sabrina at Gooichi?
SM: Yes, just the two of us. Trying to get some of my old guys to move out to Florida, but right now it's just me and B. We are a great team. She was into cars when we started dating eight years ago and has just as many screws loose as me [laughs]. She is building her R32 GT-R now and it's going to be just as extreme as the RX-7!
SS: You've had the PistachioFD for 12 years, but why build it to this level now?
SM: The car has always been a tire killer, but it started 15 different colors and strictly purpose built. We kept pushing the mods farther and farther, nicer and nicer. I always wanted to push the limit, which prolonged the build. Nicer parts meant I had to save up more, which in turn made the finish date farther away. But I wanted to do it right. When the car got the call for SEMA it was a bare shell, and it was time to go over every inch of the car like our show bikes. It is a nice show car some would say, but it's still purpose built, and it's only this nice cause its new! Just give it some time... I can't wait for it to start weathering, melting paint and getting some character.
SS: What the car's overall theme?
SM: I wanted to build a raw street car, something on the verge of insanity. Motor solid mounted; no A/C, interior, fans or radio; straight cut gears; race suspension and transmission... I wanted something meant to be driven and to be one with the road.
SS: FDs receive a lot of criticism for LS swaps. What's your take and would you have done any other motor?
SM: Originally, we planned on a Viper V10 swap, but the extra length of the motor meant a good portion of the front part would be through the hood. I had a friend that builds race Ferraris and we almost did a 360 Modena engine with him, but the cost of the motor and the tall height of it just didn't make sense for the horsepower we would have gotten... The LS just simply fit. For the price of a stock V10 or Modena engine, I could have a fully forged, turbo 1,000whp LS. And as much as I love and respect rotaries, I simply bought this car as a shell; the LS just happened and I've had this motor for over 10 years now. They are great engines, and as much hate as they get, there is a simple reason why they end up in so many cars. They are a great platform, simple, unlimited aftermarket support, make great power, and are reliable.
SS: Where did the PistachioFD inspiration come from?
SM: Normally, it's a huge decision on what color to paint a project. Black, red, green, white... It's always a long drawn-out battle; however, not on this car. I saw the color one day and said, "That's it!" The name PistachioFD just kind of happened, too. It's a nutty color for a nutty car. It's confused-road race suspension and trans with a drag car rear end and horsepower level. I really wanted the color to tone down the build. It's such an extreme, raw car on so many levels that painting it red or white would just be too much. I feel like the color balances out the build and completes the overall vision.
SS: How was the road to SEMA and how'd you manage to make it into the AutoMeter booth in time?
SM: The road to SEMA haunts me to this day. We started our shop back up three months before SEMA. I got the call from AutoMeter saying they might be interested in the car, but there was a corporate choice between a few different cars. At the time, the car was in a bunch of pieces, basically a shell. We finally got the call saying they wanted it, so we put everything on hold to get the car done. Such a big opportunity for us being a new shop in a new city, we had to make it happen. One month before SEMA, we were hit with a hurricane and three weeks before, I about cut my finger off! Two weeks before we were literally hit by a tow truck, and just one week before SEMA, we got the car out of the paint booth. Hopped up on pain meds, we got the car together. We were up for three days straight before our deadline to leave. I had a few buddies come in to help us finish it up. We drove 40 hours straight to Vegas, and receiving the Super Street/Meguiar's Award made everything worth it.
SS: Let's address the trolls... The car wasn't perfect at SEMA yet, but what were the critics sayin'?
SM: So, the manifolds on the car were made eight years ago for a different set of wastegates. When we picked up Turbosmart as a sponsor, we switched to their product. Going from one brand to another, the sizes were just simply different. The new bigger Turbosmart wastegates barely touched our power steering belt. The entire accessories kit is from KRC and is extremely customizable, so we ordered a smaller pulley to help the belt clear the wastegate. The distributor sent us the wrong pulley three times; the last one was with the wrong spline count. We had to make the decision between running the car with no belt, or run it with the belt and let it rub a tiny bit. We weren't going to be driving it so that was the better option. Luckily for us, someone saw the tiny flaw and social media did the rest. Funny thing is the correct part was waiting for us when we got home. Five minutes later, the issue was fixed, crisis avoided, and the world is okay for another day.
SS: What's your favorite thing about the car?
SM: The sound. It is so much more than just an LS. The power delivery comes on hard and the turbo noise, mixed with the screaming V-8, mated with the straight cut, road race transmission... It sounds so raw and intense!
SS: Your FD was at SEMA in '03 and a Super Street cover car in February '04 with Nitrous Express. Do you feel you've done the car justice?
SM: I remember seeing this car on the cover when I was in high school. Years later, I stumbled across the gutted shell and picked it up. It was originally a huge turbo rotary, big wing, and polished wheels—a very '90s look, but very performance oriented still. I think I gave the car justice and it's still all about performance. I'm glad it is back in the limelight. Very cool to think what it's been through over the years. If only it could talk!
SS: Any final thoughts?
SM: We've built vehicles that have been featured all over the world for years now, but this is the first build that has some serious meaning behind it. People in my life that have passed inspired me to be creative and push boundaries. This car speaks to who I am as a builder and designer. There have been countless hours and heartache laid out to make this build a reality and I am so happy it is on the road. We need to build cars for ourselves, stop the internet hate and remember what this is about. Get out and drive, build what makes you happy.