Barney the Dinosaurs ancestors were snuffed out by the global cataclysm that resulted when a celestial dirt clod about the size of Manhattan island collided with the earths crust.
Sure, youre thinking this sounds like some sort of Disney movie that might star Morgan Freeman as the president and Bruce Willis as the hero. Not this time. In a nutshell, the rock hit the earth and changed the landscape and climate of the planet and killed the dinosaurs. Its actually way more scientific than that, but hey, this is a quasi-car mag.
In some way, the rise and fall of dinosaurs parallels the Japanese supercar era of the 90s, whose star as a car species in this country burned so brightly for a brief time. No longer content playing second fiddle to European exotica, Japanese manufacturers dueled in a game of technological one-upsmanship as each major manufacturer developed all-conquering sports cars. In a surprise move, some of these vehicles made their way to U.S. shores for a few years, if only to hint us to other forbidden fruits.
Haru Ishimaru, a manager with Apex Integration USA, was well acquainted with the era of the Japanese supercar. Back in Japan, he owned and enjoyed a 92 Nissan Fairlady Z, which we can only imagine was sufficiently massaged. In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Haru sold his beloved Fairlady prior to relocating to the states. Once here, the unquenchable thirst for more automotive gusto lured him toward another iteration of sports car: a 93 Mazda RX-7. Dissatisfied with the stock versions high state of tune, the need for acceleration-induced smiles fueled the transformation of the humble FD3S into the vehicle you see before you.
Apex is one of Japans premier tuning agencies and a manufacturer of exquisite components. The engine compartment is suitably breathed upon. The 13B-REW rotary engine was completely rebuilt with racing spec apex seals by Apexs chief engineer, Mr. Eric Hsu. The complex sequential twin turbo system was swapped for a more efficient Apex Isamu single turbo kit, compressing air through an Apex GT Spec intercooler, and an RX6 turbo. Fuel demands are now met by a Nissan Skyline GTR fuel pump, feeding 550cc injectors. An upgraded Apex model RX6 turbo compresses the mixture. Spent gases are expelled through a three-inch exhaust system featuring an Apex GT-Spec header, XS engineering down pipe, and a Mazdaspeed after-cat. The stock 255 horses now rumble to the tune of about 400 at 7,500 rpm.
Additional power is always complemented by improved traction, which is achieved via the installation of a full Apex N1 suspension system all the way around. Enkei Aegis wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber try not to squirm and break loose under the rotarys might. Whats all that power and capability worth if its not treated to an absolutely crackerjack exterior treatment? Perrys Auto Body of Huntington Beach, California, attached a C-West ground effects kit under the car and blended in the stock color Vintage Red on the body. Graphics are courtesy of Modern Image, also of Huntington Beach. The RX-7s interior features an Auto Meter twin gauge pillar setup to monitor boost and exhaust gas temperature. The MOMO steering wheel and Mazdaspeed shift kit provide the requisite improvement in feel to the control surfaces.
Such special touches result in a vehicle that exceeds the already generous performance envelope blessed by Mazda engineers. This chassis has not been available in U.S. showrooms since 95, and Toyota and Nissan discontinued its supercars back in 97 and 98. Neither manufacturer has since offered vehicles to the U.S. consumer that approach the capabilities of these front engine/rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged dinosaurs (yes, the NSX is super, but its a mid-engined piece of genius). We can only hope that, unlike the dinosaurs, vehicles of this caliber will make their way back onto the continents shores before the next Ice Age, when its our turn.