Constant globalization brings together various cultures no matter how different. Though cultural appropriation is inevitable, we are obligated to those from whom we gathered inspiration. Common examples can be found in music and fashion, but they can also be found in the automotive world. Tito Perez is the owner of this '93 Mazda RX-7 and explains that to "do right" we must be "authentic," so the essence of the cultures we emulate add to our creations. In the case of his RX-7, he's adopted influences from both Puerto Rican and Japanese car cultures by strengthening his rotary engine and using only authentic JDM parts.
Now, you might be asking, "Why Puerto Rico car culture?" It'll be a surprise to some of you if you're new to the scene, but the most powerful rotary builds in the world aren't from Japan or even the United States, but from the tiny island of Puerto Rico. PR is home to many of the fastest quarter-mile rotary-powered machines in the history books, which is why it's no surprise Tito and his father, both full-blood Puerto Ricans, picked up this RX-7 as a family project.
The culture of high-revving rotaries at stoplights complemented by salsa music from a nearby "jangueo" is what Tito tried to convey. Goopy seals and studs hold the "box of hornets" together while a Garrett GT42RS force-feeds the boost pressure. RX Parts apex seals and a throttle body finish the peripheral-ported motor that's been assembled by good friend John Vargas. The result is a whopping 815 hp and 503 lb-ft of torque. We should note that Tito also had to swap the transmission from its original automatic to a five-speed manual, which was then beefed up using ACT components. The drivetrain also received a Carbonetic limited-slip differential, chromoly axles, and additional bracing so all that power could be transferred to the ground.
On the outside, Tito updated the RX-7 from the classic, benign street car he drove in high school to something much more cool and custom. He "wanted to do it justice," like how the big-name Japanese tuners did things in the late-'90s and '00s. With the help of Final Form USA, he collected a carbon hood, canards, air ducts, and a rear diffuser from RE Amemiya, plus a Voltex rear wing and an assortment of custom lights from CarshopGLOW and Rize Japan to modernize the 26-year-old coupe. The chassis wasn't forgotten, either, as JDM packages continued to arrive at Tito's house with Work VS-XX wheels, Project Mu big brakes, and TEIN coilovers.
The car's color is perhaps the only influence that didn't come from either Tito's Puerto Rican roots or his affinity for Japanese car culture. While stationed in Dubai with the army, he fell in love with a Lamborghini Aventador painted Balloon white. It shined in the desert sun like nothing he had ever seen, so upon his return, he dropped his car off with good friend Josh Croll, where it was painted the same Lambo hue and given the exotic luster he couldn't live without.
While it might be easy to think Tito was following a formula, his build represents so much more. It's unusual to encounter a street-driven Mazda RX-7 in Japan with as much power as Tito's car, and it's not every day a Puerto Rican RX-7 owner goes through as much trouble as Tito did to collect and use all those valuable JDM parts. He's glued together the two distant car cultures he's grown up emulating, and it's nothing short of amazing.