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 |   |  1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy
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1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

You Could Say Phil Sohn Is Obsessed With One Thing in Particular: Mazda's Rotary Engine

Jonathan Wong
Dec 26, 2019
Photographer: Chad Burdette

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.

1993 Mazda RX 7 RE Amemiya Rear Splitter Photo 24/24   |   1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

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.

1993 Mazda RX 7 Wankel Rotary Engine Photo 24/24   |   1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

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.

1993 Mazda RX 7 Steering Wheel Photo 24/24   |   1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

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.

1993 Mazda RX 7 Scoot Sports Hood 01 Photo 24/24   |   1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy
1993 Mazda RX 7 TCP Magic G Face GT Front Fenders 02 Photo 24/24   |   1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy
By Jonathan Wong
507 Articles
1993 Mazda RX-7 - Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy
Tuning Menu
Owner: Philip Sohn
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Occupation: Academic Science Researcher
Instagram: @herblenny
Engine: E&J Autoworks 2mm apex seals; BorgWarner EFR 8374 twin-scroll turbo; Turbosmart actuator, blow-off valve; Radium Engineering drop-in multi-pump surge tank, remote fuel filter kit; Walbro E85 dual fuel pumps, lift pump; Built 2 Apex alternator relocation kit; Full Function Engineering primary and secondary fuel rails; ID 1,300cc and 1,700cc injectors; Davies Craig electric water pump with controller; Sakebomb Garage dual oil cooler kit, water/meth injection tank with AEM pump/controller; PTP turbo blanket, gold heat reflective tape; IR Performance stainless oil filler neck, high-output alternator; Samco Urban Camo couplers, radiator hoses, billet coolant temp sensor adapter; Fujita Engineering intake elbow; A'PEXi GT front-mount intercooler, N Flow radiator; custom engine harness tuck and aluminum hard lines
Drivetrain: RZ five-speed transmission; Exedy twin-disc clutch and lightweight flywheel; Mazdaspeed Powerplant frame; GReddy high-capacity differential cover; C's short shifter; Powerflex diff bushings
Engine Management: Haltech Elite 1500 with dual EGT sensors and Innovate wideband; LMS-EFI mil-spec engine harness with Elite 1500 quick disconnect; Sakebomb Garage IGN1 coil kit; BorgWarner Turbo Speed sensor
Footwork & Chassis: TEIN Flex Z coilovers with EDFC Active Pro; Powerflex Black Series bushings; Sakebomb Garage billet solid sway bar mounts; Tri-Point adjustable front sway bar; Racing Beat adjustable rear sway bar; Alpha Garage titanium front strut bar; R-Magic fender brace; M2 Performance launch kit; manual rack conversion; Raceshop roll bar with rear strut tower bar and harness belt hookup
Brakes: SakeBomb Garage/Wilwood big brake kit; ABS delete with proportioning valve
Wheels & Tires: 18x10 front, 18x10.5 rear ADVAN GT wheels; 255/35R18 front, 295/30R18 rear Toyo Tires R888R tires
Exterior: Custom RE Amemiya N1-05 front bumper with FEED Type 2R carbon accents; FEED turn signals, driving lights, rear fender flares; TCP Magic G Face GT fenders, side skirts, carbon front fender diffuser; APR Performance top fender vents; custom ducktail carbon spoiler; Scoot Sports hood; Built 2 Apex front splitter and mounting brace; RE Amemiya rear carbon splitter; DipYourCar ProLife plasti-dip
Interior: Defi Advance controller, oil temp, oil pressure, and fuel pressure sensors; EVO-R hex carbon gauge cluster/HVAC deletes; EVOR shifter surround and transmission tunnel hex carbon delete; Bride Vios 3 Type R Japan-series Super Aramid shell; Schroth Prolife harnesses; Sakebomb Garage passenger foot rest; Alpha Garage floor mats; custom carbon rear hatch cover; FEED rear spare wheel storage unit
Thanks: My wife for understanding my insane car hobby; BorgWarner Performance; Exedy Clutch USA; Toyo Tires; Radium Auto/Engineering; TEIN USA; Defi; PowerFlex; NGK; Samco Sports UK; HMS Motorsports; LiquiMoly; TurboSmart; Fonzie at Dip Your Car; Jay from EVOR; Aaron and Jason at Full Function Engineering; Heath at Sakebomb Garage; Edgar at E&J Autoworks; Matt from Garage Alpha; Nader at Built 2 Apex; Brian from Mackin Industries; Chris from LMS-EFI; Zach from Addicted Performance; Michael Osburn; Brian Treffeisen; Rodney Demesa; Billy Merk; Justin Hardy; Leo Huang; Marlon Fonti; everyone else who helped out with my venture in modifying rotary cars

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