Ninety-nine percent of us would be content after completing a project car for SEMA and a magazine cover; however, with Jonathan Grunwald and his 1994 Mazda RX-7, he's continued to reinvent his FD build and at this year's SEMA Show surprised us all with a new and improved look with more than enough rotary power to back it up. Jonny first debuted his RX-7 in the Toyo Tires Treadpass at SEMA '16, where it wore TCP Magic aero among a host of other highly sought after JDM parts. He continued to tidy up his work, develop the build further, and in 2017, we featured him on the cover of our magazine. The RX-7 made one more appearance at SEMA where Japanese car fans from all around the world gave the car the respect it deserved. Fast forward to this year and we were able to break ground on his 13B-REW rebuild as he set a mission to build one of the most powerful two-rotors in history. We knew the car was up and running but before things were said and done, he had a few tricks up his sleeve, revamped the aero package with new pieces from TCP Magic, and also added a stunning blue wrap that made it as pleasing to the eyes as any RX-7 we've ever seen before. While it was a car that many of us has seen multiple times, it was Jonny's dedication and hunger to continue to improve on his machine that compelled us to give him the recognition he deserves as one of this year's Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award winners, presented by Meguiar's.
SS: How many SEMAs is this for you and how many with the FD?
JG: This was my ninth SEMA with 13 personally managed builds attending. This is the third SEMA with the FD. I initially rebuilt this entire car to debut at SEMA 2016 with Toyo Tires. The car has come a very long way since then...
SS: What made you want to continue to change up and develop the FD?
JG: Yeah, I thought my FD was completed when I debuted in 2016, but dreams and projects evolve, whether its passion or obsession to refine a look. When the FD first broke on Super Street following SEMA, the project went viral, inspiring copycat builds, counterfeit merchandise, photographer images being sold as art, and the list goes on... It became clear to me a new direction would eventually be needed. Kawato-san [of TCP Magic] and I went to work looking into the next iteration to complete his Time Attack aero series as well as my personal car's evolution. Obviously, we were busy both in USA and Japan between the race team and new projects such as my RX-8, Tommy Babiarz's MX-5, Lucky 7 Racing's FC, and more. But just like my initial Super Street interview, much of car culture predictions continued... 1,000hp is casual these days and required to be competitive in motorsport. I'm always for going against the conventional, now going for the highest horsepower 13B.
SS: We followed your mission for 700whp earlier this year, but we didn't have a dyno number yet. I believe there's an official number and it's fully tuned?
JG: The car is making 720whp, 501 lb-ft of torque...before the clutch started slipping. Our new goal is 800whp, although it's now making well over 800hp at the flywheel. That's 20B power on a full bridge 13B.
SS: Outside of the rotary rebuild, what else was done to this third phase of your FD?
JG: SEMA was the official debut of the TCP Magic Type TT V3 kit. New items include all new dual carbon canard setup, dual front carbon fender vents, dual rear carbon fender vents, dual front fender carbon gurney flaps, and an all-new rear diffuser. The prototype diffuser was overnighted from Japan the week before SEMA and the final version will be constructed in full carbon. There's also an aluminum chassis-mounted Battle Aero Force X2 GT wing and Winn Autosports installed in a 3M Satin Perfect Blue wrap.
SS: Is the project done...or ever done?
JG: I feel like for this specific car the window is finally closing... If I had it my way, it's just missing a sequential gearbox, Recaro carbon Pro Racer RMS seats, and to apply our titanium engine setup. I guess I have a clear-cut plan on the final push, but I've got quite a few ideas in mind for three or four new rotary projects in the future. Could be a Datsun, Mazda3, or MX-5...
SS: What would you tell someone that wants to build a car to be displayed at SEMA?
JG: I'm a huge supporter of the SEMA Young Guns program and SEMA in general. This show significantly impacted my life and career, from meeting and befriending inspiring builders, to collaborating with some of the best brands in the world. Having the perseverance and "never give up" mentality to refine your skills, work, attitude goes an extremely long way. I was fortunate to exhibit my first project at age 21, so it's important to attend SEMA and really gain the new perspective and respect for what goes into a project displayed at the show.
Each of my build's keynote name begins with "TRMNL," referencing a terminal or gateway. I believe every build is a doorway to showcase your expression as long as you give your best representation of how you feel your project should be. Everyone has their own unique vision and that's what matters. I love the ability to inspire others from my work and collaborations, especially the next generation of builders. These projects are more than just rare or high-quality parts. It's the execution. It's the individuals, friends and small companies behind them. It's how you communicate with your peers without speaking a word.
RJ's Last Word: "Sam and I loved how Jonny continues to evolve and progress this project proving that sometimes a project is never complete. He made big engine change this year, going to a full bridge port increasing crank horsepower from 500-plus to 800-plus. This thing sounds insanely mega. He also added new aero components and changed the color. As they say, third time's a charm..."
As a winner in this year's Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award presented by Meguiar's, Jonny receives a one-of-a-kind trophy helmet painted by Patrick Briand (@pbkreation) and a crushproof and weather resistant car care case from Pelican Cases customized with Super Street and Meguiar's logos.
Special thank you to Renz Dimaandal, Samuel Rojas and Jonathan Carrasco for the media support.