Everybody has a story for his or her car build, and in the case of this 1994 Mazda RX-7, the story begins in Puerto Rico, where a young Ricky Alduen recalls walking out of his high school one day to be mesmerized by a certain first-gen SA22C RX-7. The burgundy RX-7's body lines and distinctive engine noise was enough for him to experience a minor form of mechaphilia. Alduen admits that he even stayed around until his new flame left and spent the rest of the day just thinking about the car.
Years passed and Ricky left his home of Puerto Rico to start college in Connecticut, but his love for the rotary-powered coupe never left. As a young student, he had plenty of urges to shop for a car, but he concluded it wasn't worth it quite yet, and insurance prices would be more than he could afford. His priorities sadly shifted until he finished school and moved to Miami. The intoxicating brap noises from the rotary haunted him, and by this time, third-generation RX-7s were available—which complicated things more. Then there comes a time in a man's life when he just goes for what he wants. It took more than 15 years, but Alduen finally picked up his first love in the form of an '85 GSL-SE—the cream-of-the-crop model that ditched the dated 100hp 12A engine for the 13B. The GSL-SE also sported bigger wheels, disc brakes, LSD, and fully loaded trim. But with age comes new perspectives, and while Alduen appreciated the aged RX-7, he developed a new crush with the more modern FD chassis. As fate would have it, he located a stock '94 RX-7 in Texas and found himself driving it back to Miami one weekend. It was sad to let the first-gen go, but the opportunity and availability of parts for the FD were unmatched.
With only a few months of ownership, Alduen had encountered a fender bender that helped him decide to build the car from the ground up—a blessing in disguise if you will. To begin, Ricky partnered with his good friend who lived 3.5 hours away in Lakeland to work on the car. Instead of going out and partying on a Friday night, Alduen would save his energy to wake up at 4 a.m. and drive to his friend's place, where the magic would take place. Of course like many builds, his patience was tested waiting for parts. The two undercoated the car with the same material used to minimize road noise. From there, they had to make the difficult decision of color. It boiled down to a custom Candy Mandarin, and with the interior stripped down, it only made sense to paint the inner body that most people would otherwise ignore. Alduen explained, "The car was painted in the same garage it was disassembled. No paint booth and nothing fancy. Just a normal backyard garage in an industrial area covered with plastic. It came out way better than I imagined." A Shine Auto ST front bumper with incorporated '99-spec turn signals succeeded the original design and a Scott ST carbon hood added aggressiveness no original hood could pull off. Along the body, various carbon pieces replaced OEM elements such as fender vents, door handle covers, and mudguards. The Knight Sport mirrors were originally designed for right-hand-drive cars, but Ricky modified them to fit his U.S.-spec FD while wrapping them in carbon fiber. The rear got just as much love with a diffuser, roof spoiler, and the much desired '99-spec circular tails. Ricky's wheel of choice was clear—a set of ADVAN Racing GT wheels. Suspension and handling were refined with A'PEXi N1 Evolution dampers and an AutoExe tower brace.
Moving on to the interior, it consisted of a mix of JDM parts and custom touches that really set this car apart. Alduen enlisted Transformers Auto to build his dream interior, starting with Bride Low Max seats. The seats, along with the JDM Efini steering wheel, were customized in leather with orange stitching to match the exterior. Alduen honored the 13B under the hood with a rotary-style shift knob and temperature controllers. The love for efini, Mazda's luxury division, is indisputable as the logo is stitched all throughout the cabin and trunk.
Lastly, Ricky addressed the engine. By now, his project was so deep, he couldn't just leave power untouched. He rang up rotary specialists Pettit Racing from down the street in Palm Beach. No stranger to building epic Mazdas, having competed in Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring with their own race team, Pettit took Ricky's RX-7 under their wings to strengthen his 13B and make it more efficient than before. A mild street port was performed to the rotary housing, which enhances airflow and bumps up top-end power without changing the car's driveability. Upgraded apex seals help with the 13B's longevity and strength, especially with more boost coming from the larger turbos. Upgraded pulleys, downpipe, intake, and titanium exhaust finish up the bolt-ons, while Pettit Racing properly blueprinted the engine and checked the seals and surfaces for any areas of wear and tear that might affect the engine's performance and life span.
Alduen tells us the build was far from easy—in fact, it took two and a half years. He concluded, "Even with all the frustrations, looking back I can honestly say that I enjoyed the whole process. It's very rewarding to drive around and have people give you a thumbs-up on the road." Ricky also confessed that he's not quite done with the car and plans to add a wing, canards, and more. Like most projects, it's a work in progress and will always be, that's for certain. His love for the RX-7 stood the test of time and is still a better love story than Twilight.
For two and a half years, Ricky transformed his RX-7 from zero to hero in his buddy's garage, along with the help of Pettit Racing for the engine work.