Loosely defined, sociology is the study of individuals. From a macro view, it defines the character of a nation. So what does it say about the Japanese society during the '90s-while the U.S. was engrossed in the Civic nation-that rallied its drums to engineering feats such as the FD? So cult-like is the RX-7 following, that sales figures in Japan dwarfed those of the U.S. (a country with twice its population), and sightings are almost as ubiquitous as a McDonalds. It makes sense for such a logic driven society like Japan's that the RX-7 was, and remains, endearing to the national consciousness.
To review, the iconic car is a triumph of engineering; its heart-a no valve, no piston, twin wankel, turbocharged engine-is a 1.3L marvel. To complement the rotary is a structurally sound, and equally advanced chassis, which includes a low-slung, front engine position, and extensive use of lightweight alloys, resulting in a respectable 2,822 lb curb weight for the baseline 252 hp push around. While the U.S. only received the Series 6 version, domestically, Series 7 and 8 (branded Efini RX-7) continued selling well into 2002, and are still seen in various forms of racing today; particularly N1 Super Taikyu and the all important Time Attack... excuse me... Super Lap Battle series, as it's known now.
Auto Craft Kyoto is a small, four-bay, three-hoist tuning garage in southern Kyoto. Headed by pro-driver Masanaga Shirahige, AC-Kyoto can be credited for the creation of such visually arresting pieces as the VeilSide Fortune RX-7 (of Tokyo Drift fame), and more recently, the TAS show-stopping RX-7.8 (2NR cover, August 2008). But if you ask me, I like a woman not of just beauty but of substance, my meals to be as delicious as they appear, and to have world peace... but now's not the time to discuss that. Behold AC-Kyoto's time-attack RX-7. At a minute-fourty-one (albeit in wet conditions), this '02 model FD currently is the overall winner of the Tuning Festa event at Okayama circuit.
It sort of makes sense why on such a large, balls-to-wall, former Formula 1 circuit (2.3 miles, compared to Tsukuba's 1.2) an FD would dominate such an event. In contrast to the EVO, which holds the current lap record at Tsukuba, what the FD does best is offer stability at high speeds. Thus, to enhance the natural attributes of this bronze beauty, AC-Kyoto was to add a down force generating exterior package that matches its 500 hp brawn. It starts with a C-West aerodynamics kit, fitted with AC-Kyoto three-piece canards, and is topped off with an M-Sports carbon hood, original under-tray and diffuser, and Voltex GT Wing. Drag is addressed via smaller Craft-Square mirrors.
The long straights of Okayama circuit create triple digit speeds, and thus, one must brake hard before turning. Adding function to form is a set of wide, bronze 17x9.5 Volk CE28Ns, wearing super sticky Advan A050 tires, sized at 255/40-17. Combined, they frame a set of AP Racing 6-piston calipers up front, matched with 4-piston rears. Now with the FD, Mazda engineers did such an awesome job on brake balance that many professional race teams (including N1) decided to leave the stock diameter rotors alone. Not so on this RX-7. Upon swapping the stock unit for their own master cylinder, Shirahige deployed a set of 330 mm front rotors and 315 mm in the rear, careful to keep it proportional to OE brake sizes. Once the issue of braking was addressed, a set of proprietary AC-Kyoto Aragosta remote reservoir coilovers, with front and rear 18 kg springs, was employed for the corners, and AC-Kyoto spherical linkages were swapped for stock units. The Aragosta (sounds like a strip bar) pieces have 12-way adjustable rebound and compression settings.
Unfastening the hood pins uncovers something special and often unique to time attack. All the seams have been stitch welded, and portions fore of the strut tower deemed non-structural have been deleted for weight reduction. Conspicuously located under the confines of the Okuyama three-point aluminum strut tower brace, is the AC-Kyoto ported 13B-REW. Immediately noticeable is the massive Trust T78-29D turbine sitting starboard of the engine. This feeds an AC-Kyoto aluminum intercooler, intercooler pipes, and their original big-bore throttle body. Air meets a twin Sard-driven 850cc charge further downstream, via AC-Kyoto side port, and combustion takes place via their original rotors and apex seals. Excessive pressure on both exhaust and intake are relieved through a Greddy wastegate and blow-off valve, respectively... all netting a 500 peak horsepower at 7,100 rpm, and a respectable 397 lb-ft of torque at 6,300 rpm.
Piloting all that power is, of course, none other than company president Masanaga Shirahige, and keeping his assets in place are the rugged bolstering of Bride Low Max seats paired with a Takata four-point harness set. Safety and chassis stiffening are brought on by a 15-point cage, where the welded-in eight-point is enhanced by clevised sections. Further inspection of the cabin reveals an AIM-MXL data logger immediately behind the ATC steering wheel, which includes a boost scrambler button right under where Shirahige's right thumb would be. Portside of the driver's cockpit lay evidence of further manipulation of the FD by means of an A'PEXi display, a GReddy brake bias selector, and a shortened shifter controlling an OS Giken close-gear tranny.
Certainly, Japan's love of the FD and America's rally cry after the budget-minded Civic speak volumes about each society. However, Shirahige's love for this FD undoubtedly speaks volumes about his expertise and craftsmanship.
'02 Mazda RX-7
Behind The Build
Head to the message boards at www.importtuner.comm to chat about this feature Vehicle.
Owner of Auto-Craft Kyoto, Tuner, and Professional Driver
2 Months Actual Time, 6 Months
500 hp @ 7,100 rpm, 397 lbs-ft. @ 6,300 rpm
AC-Kyoto aluminum triple core radiator, intercooler, piping, big bore throttle, side port, rotors with apex seals, V-Mount kit, titanium cat-back muffle; GReddy wastegate, blow-off valve, exhaust manifold, downpipe, oil cooler, Trust T78-29D turbo; custom A'PEXi Power FC; twin Sard 280cc fuel pumps; 850cc injectors; one-off OE high cap oil pan, AC-R blow by; PCV catch cans
Exedy twin-plate clutch; OS Giken close-gear tranny; ATS carbon LSD
Okuma three-point strut tower brace; stitch welding; Aragosta remote reservoir coilovers with 18kg springs; AC-Kyoto spherical lower control arms, radius arms, sway bars
17x9.5 Volk Racing CE28N; 255/40-17 Yokohama Advan A050
AP Racing 6-pot fronts and 4-pot rears; AC-Kyoto stainless steel lines; Hi-Cap master cylinder; Seidoya N1 500 brake pads
BJ Union HID crystal clear lights; C-West bumpers, flare fenders, side skirts; AC-Kyoto three-piece canards; Voltex GT wing; Lexan windows; Craft-Square side mirrors; M-Sports carbon hood
15-point cage; Defi gauges; GReddy brake bias selector; AIM-MXI multi-gauge; AC-Kyoto carbon meter panel; Bride seats; Takata belts; ATC steering
Nutec Lubricants, Bride, Rays, Exedy, Trust, ATS, Seidoya, Advan, C-West, BJ-Union, Advan, Voltex