"I never really wanted an RX-7 in the first place," confesses Dan Beighley, on the days before taking ownership of the black-on-black crime machine in front of you. An East Coast transplant, Dan spent the mid nineties cutting his teeth in San Diego, CA's, growing import scene from behind the wheel of his modded 200SX, rolling with a crew that boasted some of California's first SR-swapped rides. Enlistment in the Marine Corps brought him out here four years prior, and after mastering the trade of heavy equipment mechanics and attaining the rank of Sergeant, he was looking forward to applying his skills to the private sector. His last day of service was September 10th, 2001-needless to say, civilian life was short-lived. "I re-enlisted the next morning," Dan explains, "and Okinawa's tropical beaches weren't where I was looking to go." Fate, it seems, would just as soon grab us by the balls and shove us down our path, than ask our feelings on the matter.
When Dan arrived at his new post a few months later and learned of the responsibilities of his new role-and of Okinawa's well-established automotive culture, ripe with reasonably priced used rides, plentiful aftermarket support and low-pressure law enforcement-his affinity for island life grew. His re-location would be for an "undetermined" amount of time, so his first order of business was to find a ride, preferably something Nissan-badged. "I really wanted a Pulsar GTiR," explains Dan, "but they were all in pretty shitty shape. GT-Rs were everywhere, but were out of my price range. Then one day I found this FD at a seedy little used car lot in the middle of nowhere, for $5,500." It was one of the first FDs ever produced, manufactured in October of '91 on a converted FC assembly line, as part of a batch sold in Japanese dealerships under the "Efini" marquee-Mazda's short-lived sport-oriented brand exclusive to the JDM. The car had previously been modded with the addition of a Veliside Type-I aero kit and wing, and some ultra-rare RS-R wheels commissioned by Mazda as optional equipment for the FD. The car had been taken care of, but like any first-year model, it came with its share of problems. "The vacuum lines and cooling system were shit," explains Dan, "so the salesman let me have it for $4,500." Good thing, too, because it overheated on his way home from the dealership, teaching Dan his first lesson in owning an RX-7: they need lots of attention. After spending a month replacing every vacuum line and coolant hose in the engine bay-a process Dan "wouldn't wish upon (his) worst enemy", he learned his second lesson when the FD overheated, again, on its first testdrive: leave no stone unturned; a faulty radiator cap-the only part not replaced-was to blame.
After the addition of some bolt-ons, a manual boost controller and Dan's handiwork in re-configuring the FD's sequential turbos to deliver boost simultaneously, his next step was to replace the dated Veliside kit with something a little more contemporary. Taking a page out of the Okinawa street racer's handbook, he replaced it with a full Wise Sports Type A kit kept in its natural fiberglass finish-no body filler to crack or chip under the daily rigors of aggressive daily driving. The corny battle wing was discharged, and Dan replaced the stock flip-ups with a custom flush-mount headlight kit of his own making-one of the nicer-looking ones we've seen, at that. The car's rear fenders were rolled to match the widened stance of the Wise fenders up front, and the already black FD was re-coated in genuine Mazda Brilliant Black paint, for an even darker demeanor.
Dan began pounding the pavement of the Okinawa street scene during his off-time, meeting other gearheads in the random Lawson's or Family Mart parking lot and battling up the 58 freeway between Naha and Nago City, or along a certain desolated stretch of roadway running adjacent to Kadena AFB. It was on one of these excursions that he caught up with "FC Chris" and a crew of dedicated rotorheads based in Sunabe, blew up his motor pushing it a little too hard, and learned his third lesson in RX-7 building: for best results, start from scratch.
Chris's crew was some of the fastest drag racers on the island. His personal 13B-powered FC RX-7 pushed over 500 whp at the time, and routinely sniped built GT-Rs at HKS Drag Series events at Nago Circuit, until it became too fast for its own good; "If he stayed on the throttle all the way to the traps," laughs Dan, "he'd overshoot the braking distance, and have to dodge trees at the end of the track." The crew took their fight to the streets, and hanging with them taught Dan the proper ways to build a street-driven race machine.
Dan and the crew pulled the FD's 13B, rebuilt it with street-ported housings, machined rotors and 2mm apex seals, and ditched its stock twin-turbo setup for a custom tubular exhaust manifold and Turbonetics 62-1 single turbocharger. Fuel delivery was beefed up accordingly: Bosch 550- and 1,680cc injectors and two Walbro 255s, with an A'pexi Power FC and AVC controlling it all. A tweaked Greddy front-mount intercooler kit, a Racing Design three-core radiator and some bits to help them perform optimally were added in the cooling department, and the new hardware was tuned for high-octane pump gas. Sure, more radical builds have been performed, but who can argue with 442 whp and street reliability?
Like the rest of his build, when it came to drivetrain modifications, Dan just installed what was cheap and easy to find, living in Okinawa. Which, in this case, was an OS Giken twin-plate clutch and flywheel, Kaaz two-way LSD, RE Amemiya 4.7:1 final drive, and a few other bushings and braces for which the rest of us would pay gladly pay three times the Okinawa street price . . . if we could even find them in the first place. Feeling envious, yet?
Suspension mods are simple and effective-RS-R coilovers and Mazdaspeed strut and sway bars-but the rest of the underpinnings didn't come as easily. When Dan dropped his ultra-rare RS-R rollers off at a paint shop for some fresh powdercoating, he wasn't aware they'd be donated to charity. "I saw security footage from the night I dropped them off, and you can see someone 'break in', go directly over to my wheels, take only them, and leave," Dan explains, "And one of the shop's new-hires quit the next day." Dan needed something to fill the sprawling void of the FD's flared wheel wells, but was also hell-bent on keeping styling clean, sleek and unique. A set of Uras NS-01s, 17x9, +30mm offset in the front and 17x10, +15mm offset in the rear, with Project Kics spacers matching the increased fender width, were a perfect fit.
Since Dan's car was one of the earlier models, it came cursed with a tan, 2+2 interior design, featuring ridiculously under-sized rear seats-pretty much a lose-lose all around, made worse by a set of Amori gauges the car's previous owner saw fit to haphazardly screw into the dash. Dan swapped the interior with a black set from a newer two-seat car, and added a Cusco six-point cage, Momo steering wheel, Mazda-edition Recaro carbon/Kevlar buckets, Crow safety harnesses, Knight Sports 300km/h speedo, a grip of Defi Link Meters, a Pioneer in-dash headunit and Carrozzeria speakers-a lot of which was found in scrap yards or on the plentiful JDM used parts market. "Japan is awesome like that," Dan says.
Dan's ride was complete for only a few months before Murphy handed down his infamous Law: Dan received orders to re-locate back to the states, and Uncle Sam would not be footing the bill to send his car with him. "I had to disassemble everything and have it shipped to me after I relocated." It was a $6K headache, and one that still didn't include street legality. "My old man came through for me on that," he explains. "He's an old-school hotrodder at heart, and took advantage of every custom- and kit-car law he found to get it done." Within a month, the car was registered, insured and street legal; the only stipulation being that it would carry a "collectible" designation on all paperwork for the rest of its days. We wouldn't call it anything else.
Output 442 whp @ 7,250 rpm
Engine Street port; Rotary Aviation 2mm apex seals; Viton motor seal kit; Atkins oil bypass valve; Pineapple Racing louvered oil pan; Turbonetics 62-1 a/r P-Trim turbo, T-band clamps; HKS 50mm stainless steel exhaust manifold, 52mm wastegate, Super Drager exhaust; A'pexi Power FC with Fuel Commander, AVC boost controller, turbo timer; MSD 6A ignition amplifier, 8.5mm spark plug wire set; Optima red-top battery; Walbro 255lph fuel pumps (x2); Earl's stainless braided lines, anodized AN fittings, in-line fuel filter; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; KD2Y billet aluminum fuel rail; Bosch 550cc primary injectors, 1,680cc secondary injectors; Racing Design polished three-core radiator; Billion low-temperature thermostat, high-temp upper and lower radiator hoses; Greddy 90-degree turbine elbow, two-row front-mount intercooler, intercooler piping hose grommets, Type-R blow-off valve, polished intake elbow, underdrive air pump elimination, oil catch can, oil sensor adapter, Type 4 oil filler cap; Mark's upper engine torque damper; custom motor mounts, grounding system, front pipe and V-band clamps, lower radiator support bracket, air separator tank, throttle body, intercooler piping, oil catch can bracket
Drivetrain OS Giken 990kg B-type twin-plate clutch, flywheel, push/pull kit; Crown Performance stainless steel clutch line; Kaaz two-way limited slip differential; RE Amemiya 4.7:1 final drive; custom transmission brace, solid upper differential mounts, lower differential brace
Suspension RS-R coilovers; Mazdaspeed front strut tower bar; custom rear strut tower bar
Wheels/Tires Uras NS-01wheels (17x9 +30mm offset front, 17x10 +15mm offset rear); Falken Azenis RT-615 tires (235/40-17 front, 275/40-17 rear); Project Kics 25mm front wheel spacers, 20mm rear wheel spacers
Brakes SP Motorsports drilled/slotted rotors; Hawk Performance pads; Crown Performance stainless steel brake lines; Summit Racing proportioning valve, line lock kit; Cusco master cylinder brace
Exterior Wise Sports Type A fiberglass body kit, +20mm front fenders, vented hood; NRG hood dampers; Cusco hood pins; Swat Racing carbon fiber GT mirrors; custom flush-mount headlight kit, +25mm rolled rear fenders; JDM RX-7 Kouki tail lamps, turn signals; Mazda Brilliant Black paint
Interior Defi BF gauges: boost, fuel pressure, EGT, water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, 115mm tachometer, shift light, Link II computer, warning light; Cusco six-point padded roll cage; Recaro carbon/Kevlar racing buckets; RE Amemiya air bag gauge cluster, 380kg ball shift knob, short-shift kit; Knight Sports 300 km/h speedometer; Momo steering wheel; NRG steering hub disconnect kit w/lock; Crow four-point safety harnesses (x2); Moroso kill switch; custom battery location, center console, climate control relocation, polished door step plates
Electronics Pioneer in-dash CD/WMA/MP3 player, Carrozzeria three-way mid-range speakers (x4)
Behind The Build
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spending time with the family
"Take your time and enjoy"