We pride ourselves on being on top of things. Cars you see in the magazine have been in our crosshairs for months-we've known most of them were coming before they ever rolled under their own power. Our ears are to the ground, our nose to the grindstone, our minds on our money (and our money on our minds; rollin' down the street smokin' indo, sippin' on gin and juice?-SC). Our spy network stretches everywhere. Octopus-like, our tentacles reach into all corners of the scene; no gossip or hot scoops can escape our suction cups. Whether it's a hot party or a new Paul Oakenfold single, we know. We're everywhere. We're always watching.
So, if we're so on top of our games (and yours), and we are, why didn't we have any idea this cool little old school Mazda R-100 was coming? How did this little flamed hummer completely blindside us?
For starters, its build up began before Super Street magazine was even a magazine: Wilson Wang has been working on this baby for a solid ten seasons now. So, like any good spy, we had to do some backtracking to find out what the story was.
Wilson did have some problems along the way; he wasn't dropping an Acura mill into a Civic, by any means. Instead, he was wedging an '88 RX-7 Turbo II mill into the slender R-100. We talked with Wilson's brother Nelson, of Rotech in Temple City, California, about some of the challenges. "The engine compartment is narrow, so everything had to be fabricated. Stock, the turbo is located right out of the exhaust manifold, but the narrow chassis made us have to relocate it forward and up. The first turbo was wrapped; it ran so hot it cooked itself. We modified the exhaust manifold to have it sit lower; it now sits between upper and lower radiator hoses." Some of the chassis particulars were a simpler swap: RX-2, RX-3, and RX-4 pieces bolted on in place of some R-100 pieces, which are virtually impossible to find parts for.
Think 400 hp out of 1.3L ain't all that? Figure some more pieces into the equation, like rear-wheel drive. Physics ensures that all of the Mazda's power is down on the ground at launch, instead of unloading the tires and lighting 'em up. Figure also that the R-100 is a teeny little car. You think Civics are small? Ha! New Civics are positively porcine compared to the flyweight R-100, which clocks in at under a ton, fully dressed. At that weight, 400 hp will yank the front wheels off the ground if you're not careful. Furthermore, Nelson says that they may plumb for two more injectors if they feel the need though the half-dozen 550cc units he's got in there now ought to take care of any fuel problems.
How's reaction at the shows? "We find lots of people who don't know what it is-those who do know really dig it. I think the kids at the shows are so used to seeing all of the new stuff that when they see a '70s car, they don't appreciate what it is because they didn't grow up with them," says 34-year-old Nelson. "When we were in high school, this is what we brought to the street races-Datsun Zs and 510s, and Mazda RX-2-3-4s." Rolling stock like the 13x8 Centerlines and the flames, he reports, are a deliberate nod to old school style. Still, ten years? "It's not like a Honda, where you can order things online or out of a catalog-everything had to be fabricated," says Nelson.
So, with our research completed, our findings printed below, and our confidence in our omnipotence shaken, we retreat to our secret base in the base of Mount Rushmore for self-re-evaluation.