As car shows goes, I'm like the son of a candy shop owner. Some days I'll crave the occasional Snickers or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but having grown up around it all my life, you've got to come up with some pretty sweet candy to think I'll take notice. I still go to car shows regularly, but these days it's more to see how my fellow car guy (and gal) friends are doing than to see what they're building-chances are it's but a mildly tweaked version of something I saw at the last show. Except if I'm in Japan. Japanese car shows are the exception to the rule. Like walking into a Shinjuku corner store full of pink and green Kit-Kats, Sparkle Ninja chewing gum and "Oppai Jelly" candy boobs, I never know what to expect.
Let me recall last April, when we visited the Nagoya Exciting Car Showdown-a show that alerts the senses in two unique ways. One: it's in Japan, so the presence of cars we've never heard of, or only dreamed of, is enough to make any gaijin stop and stare 300 times over. Two: since Nagoya is situated equidistant from Tokyo and Osaka, only the Nagoya expo can contrast Tokyo's ultra-clean craziness with the Boso-themed touge machines of Osaka, and add to it its own blend of fully built rides that usually don't make the journey to shows in either city. And finally, as if just for us, this is a show for performance rides only-no winged dekotora, dubbed-out Impalas, or imported American muscle here . . . just fast, JDM rides. It should go without saying, then, that this is Auto Craft Kyoto's kind of show.
We first brought you Auto Craft Kyoto with their street RX-7.8 in the September '08 issue, and followed it up with their time-attack FD3S in January of '09. If it can be said the measure of a good tuning shop is not by the condition of its demo cars, but its customers', then let the car before you speak of AC Kyoto's reputation. It's owned by Shoichiro "Sho" Nishi of Kadoma city, Osaka-an enthusiast just like the rest of us, albeit on the cooler side of the tuning world. When Japan's powers-that-be axed the RX-7, Supra, Skyline, and other so-called "polluters" from road duty in the early '00s, enthusiasts like Sho began buying them up in record numbers. Urban legend states that the mysteriously well-connected connoisseur has in his possession modified versions of Japan's best supercars, but this one is his favorite. And the inspiration behind it: AC Kyoto's time-attack FD.
They say your first love's the sweetest; maybe Sho likes this FD so much because it was the first car he bought himself. Fresh out of college and into his declared profession as a mechanic, Sho started with the basic exhaust, suspension, and intake kit over five years ago. But like any addict, after feeling the exponential power production of the force-fed twin-rotor power plant, he only wanted more. He ditched the original lowering springs that someone had added over the years, along with the car's OEM Bilstein shocks, for a set of HKS Hypermax coilovers with track-ready16kg/mm Swift springs. Then came a set of 19-inch Advan RS wheels wrapped in 225/35-19 front and 245/35-19 rear Goodyear RevSpec RS02 rubber: a street-able racing compound, but with more reasonable wear characteristics. With time, Nishi got tired of the speeding tickets and the unwanted attention. He began attending Central Circuit's '7 meets, where in the grip of indecision about what to do next with his car, he met the AC Kyoto crew and laid eyes upon their projects (and their projects' lap times). Although a talented mechanic himself, Sho wasn't a rotary expert, nor was he a tuning mechanic. Fortunately for him, AC Kyoto's Masanaga Shirahige was both.
A single Greddy T78-29D turbo conversion has become the official slug of choice among fast, track-prepped FDs, and one was ordered up at Masanaga-sama's advice, along with the requisite Greddy manifold, Spec-V intercooler, piping, and Type R blow-off valve and wastegate. From there, Auto Craft injected its own influence, and equipped the ride with a host of parts until then only seen on its own time-attack FD: a big-bore triple throttle, massaged intake manifold, RX-8 side-port rotor housings, and trick low-compression rotors with 3mm seals. Where the track-only shop car simply dumps exhaust gas from the wastegate tubes, Sho's car routes waste into a modified Greddy downpipe that funnels through a custom Sard racing catalyist, and then a straight-through Border Racing exhaust. It is, afterall, still street driven.
One area where a track car will benefit (more than, say, a drift or drag car) is in having its drivetrain lightened. An Exedy Twin Carbon R clutch and reduced-diameter flywheel deliver significantly increased holding power while reducing rotational mass and pedal pressure, allowing for smooth, lightning fast heel-toe action. An AC Kyoto carbon-fiber propeller shaft (driveshaft) further cuts parasitic loss, while also absorbing drivetrain shock and nasty high-speed vibration, and an ATS carbon fiber two-way LSD relegates power to the appropriate drive wheel as needed.
And in case you're thinking the look of the car was added solely for, um, looks . . . guess again. Sho chose his aerodynamically sound C-West N1 kit according to what the AC Kyoto crew found worked best on their track car, and raided the AC Kyoto catalog for downforce-generating front canards, a front splitter, rear diffuser tray, and time-attack mainstay, the Voltex GT carbon fiber wing. A Rando carbon hood and rear hatch were ordered up for good measure-saving additional weight is never a bad thing.
The interior is simple, with a single Recaro SR5 seat and Sabelt four-point harness for the driver, some Defi meters, and a Momo Spider steering wheel. Apologies to the girlfriend-she gets a stock seat. At least there's a JDM Panasonic CN-HDS965D flip screen and some rotary-shaped climate-control knobs to play with, not that anyone could lift an arm to reach them once the FD's 13B hits full spool. Coincidence?
Remember kids, if you're bored with seeing neon lights, Lambo doors and fiberglass interiors at your local car shows, salvation awaits for only $800 and a 15-hour flight to the land of Nagoya, Japan, for the Exciting Car Showdown. Suzuka Circuit is right down the street, and Osaka and Tokyo are but a quick nap away on the Shinkansen. You'll get to rub elbows with time-attack greats the rest of the world only reads about, and gaze upon more performance-modified sport compacts than you even know the names of. Think of it as a never-ending mix pack of Pocky sticks in a world of stale Necco wafers and Circus Peanuts.
Behind The Build
Cars, Movies, Snowboarding
"Instead of doing it piece-by-piece, save up and build your car all at once. You'll have fewer problems that way."
'98 Mazda RX-7 Type RS
Engine 13B-REW engine; RX-8 Renesis rotor housings; custom low-compression rotors, 3mm apex seals; Greddy T78-29D turbocharger, manifold, Type R wastegate, downpipe, Type R blow-off valve, Spec-V intercooler, piping; Koyo dual-pass radiator; AC Kyoto radiator diversion plate, triple big-bore throttle, ported intake manifold; Super Now underdrive pulley; custom Border Racing exhaust; Sard fuel pump, pressure regulator, injectors, racing catalytic converter; Apex'i Power FC; Racing RE spark plugs; NGK plug wires
Drivetrain Exedy Twin Carbon clutch, flywheel; AC Kyoto carbon fiber propeller shaft; ATS two-way limited-slip differential
Suspension HKS Hipermax coilovers; Swift 16kg/mm springs.
Wheels/Tires Advan RS street wheels (19x9 front, 19x10 rear); Volk Racing CE28N track wheels (17x9.5 front, 17x10 rear); Goodyear Revspec RS02 street tires (225/35-19 front, 245/35-19 rear); Yokohama race tires (assorted sizes)
Brakes Swage Line stainless steel braided brake lines; Project Mu street/track pads; Mazda Sport four-piston front calipers
Exterior C-West N1 Type 1 front bumper, Type 2 side skirts; AC Kyoto front canards, front lip splitter, tuned Voltex GT carbon fiber Type 3 rear wing, carbon fiber rear valence; Rando Sports carbon fiber hatch, "Vader Style" carbon fiber vented hood.
Interior Recaro SR5 seat; Momo Spider steering wheel; AC Kyoto carbon fiber bezel, interior panels; Defi Link Meters (boost, water temp, oil temp, EGT, fuel pressure)
Electronics Panasonic CN-HDS965D flip-screen head unit.
Gratitude Auto Craft Kyoto; Modeling Works Ebizou; Tuning Garage River Side; Nuts Hardware Enterprise; Go-fast tuners and car lovers everywhere!
AC Kyoto's Time-Attack FD
Back in January of '09, 2NR released what became affectionately known around the office as "one of the greatest issues ever", due in large part to the two JDM track machines presented therein: CS Hiro's chop-top WRX, and AC Kyoto's time-attack FD RX-7. Both the track-prepped ACK car and Sho's street-going FD featured this month share the same Trust (Greddy) T78 slug, near-500whp tuning, and a host of other similarities (Rays wheels, Yokohama/Advan rubber, Voltex wing, lots of carbon fiber, etc.), but the track car differs in ways you wouldn't want your street car to follow. Its 18kg/mm suspension is slightly stiffer than Sho's 16s, to account for the increased leverage of its widened stance, and its Aragosta dampers feature remote reservoirs that offer increased adjustability over Sho's Hypermax units, albeit at the sacrifice of a higher price tag and more frequent maintenance. And lets not overlook the track car's three-point titanium Okuma bracing, stitch welding, and fully gusseted roll cage-mods that can give your track car a slight advantage over the next guy, but present little practical benefit to street driving where slick-clad, high-speed cornering takes a back seat to dodging potholes, staying out of cuffs, and not cracking your skull on chromoly steel when you slam the brakes. Still, with a few small tweaks, we're betting Sho's car could ride the ACK car's bumper for the better part of a time-attack session, and still drive home afterward.