Enthusiasts are often linked for a lifetime to the very car they pour their heart and soul into. That vehicle becomes an extension of their personality in a sense. For as many times as we've featured Phil Sohn's collection of cars, we've come to know one thing: He has an extreme obsession with the Wankel rotary engine, and this dark, twisted '93 RX-7 is just another fantasy of his come to life.
Phil's love of cars came at an early age. Growing up in South Korea, his uncle raised him. Working as a VP at Kia, he oftentimes brought home reading material that was, as you can imagine, car-centric. Whenever Phil went for a ride with his uncle, he would shake the driver seat to signal him to go faster—and his uncle always obliged. That love for speed is a lasting memory of his childhood.
As a teen, he fell head-over-heels for the FD RX-7, saying, "I loved how it looked!" With his first RX-7 build taking place 20 years ago, Phil quickly learned that in order to build one, you must learn everything you can about owning a special car like this. "I researched info online and formed relationships with other rotary enthusiasts," Phil adds. "Through the FD RX-7, I found myself fascinated with other rotary-powered Mazdas." From that point, he built several more projects, each one a bit different from the other; however, this particular RX-7 was designed specifically to go racing versus being a weekend cruiser or show car.
Being that his two favorite aero designers from Japan are RE Amemiya and FEED (Fujita Engineering), Phil has only ever used their products to enhance the styling of his project cars. The front end is nothing you'll find as an off-the-shelf product and is a design he came up with using a combination of an RE Amemiya N1-05 front bumper and TCP Magic G Face GT fenders and front carbon fender diffusers. The end result: Holy f'ing wow! However, Phil is quick to explain that it was extremely difficult to produce: "It took three tries to get it right. My first attempt was for SEMA 2012, but due to time and budget, I had to ditch the concept. The second bumper was unusable because it was too low to the ground. I collaborated with my friend Michael Osburn, an industrial designer, and we came up with the third design that eliminates the front hump so the Built 2 Apex front splitter could be incorporated into the bumper. I'm thinking about doing a fourth version, but that may not happen for a while." He loves the design so much he even had five of them made. How's that for dedication?
Phil's FD looks the part of a serious racer and it certainly has serious engine work to back it up. "I'm in no way a race car builder," he says. "But the one thing that bothers me is when people build their cars to look like a race car, saying it's built for track use and then never actually put it to use on a track—not even once! I drive it to track events, race, and drive home. I once blew a motor and drove home 60 miles on a single rotor." On this 13B, designing a fuel system with safety in mind was very important, so Phil utilized a Radium drop-in multi-pump surge in place of the previous setup that sat in the rear hatch area. The engine bay was stripped of its power steering and air conditioning, and a quick-disconnect Haltech engine harness allows for easier removal of the engine when the time comes.
Now that this FD is complete, it's time for—you guessed it—another rotary-powered project. Not one, but two more RX-7s and an older Eunos Cosmo. "There are so many projects I'm working on, but the biggest issue I have these days is time. How and when am I going to finish them?" Whenever they're ready, Phil, you know who to call.