For years now, the popular video series Hot Version has been pitting some of Japan's most highly tuned cars against each other. Sponsored touge battles held at the narrow Gunsai roads have become legendary, as triumph here is every bit as much due to driver as car. Becoming "King of the Hill"-as is the winner's title here-has become one of the most coveted accomplishments, and RE-Amemiya has always been one of the strongest contenders. After winning countless battles with their renowned baby blue FD3S, they've officially introduced a brand-new car, one they have named Maou. This retina-piercing, lime-green RX-7 grabbed the touge champion title in 2009, as documented in vol. 102 of Hot Version, and will be trying-like the previous blue machine which claimed Touge Max Champion status in 2006-2007-to dominate time-attack and drift competition in coming years. After seeing the car first hand under the lights of the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year, we tracked down Ken Amemiya for a one-on-one with the soon-to-be-legendary "King Devil", as its name translates in English.
As Amemiya-san explains, the most important quality to mind when building a car for the Gunsai touge is balance. Its narrow tarmac leaves little room for error, and tight turns demand a driver approach with caution and finesse, rather than simply flooring through them with excess power. It is because of this that the strongest competitors at Gunsai more often mimic modified street cars than all-out drift- or time-attack machines commonly found at circuits like Fuji or Tsukuba-don't think it's coincidence that RE-Amemiya built this car in a way to which owners of road-going RX-7s can relate when trying to modify their own cars.
But let's back up a bit, to a time before the green machine was given to the Hot Version team, comprised of the legendary Keiichi Tsuchiya, Manabu Orido, Nobuteru Taniguchi, and Akira Iida. It was Tsukuba where the car's initial testing and shake-down tuning occurred. With feedback from Taniguchi, the car's suspension was finely tuned and mapping of a tried-and-true Power FC ECU was developed to optimize throttle response and power delivery from the buzzing, side-ported, 400hp, freshly rebuilt and balanced 13B underhood. Surprising to some, the stock turbos remain; again, a product of a greater need for throttle response and mid-range torque than peak power. But a smaller turbo setup suffers in the amount of heat it generates, so RE-Amemiya elected to don the space in front of the FD's compact twin-Wankel rotary mill with one of their signature V-mount setups, which positions a custom front-mount intercooler atop a custom radiator, opposed at angles to each other, and to the direction of travel. Incoming air is scooped in from the front bumper's inlet, channeled toward each unit via custom carbon fiber ducting, and then exits the radiator under the car, and the intercooler via vents in the car's hood, while ensuring the intercooler doesn't warm airflow to the radiator, which would otherwise happen with a traditional front-mount setup. The remainder of the system consists of two Trust Airinx filters purify intake charges, and an RE-Amemiya signature Dolphin Tail titanium exhaust. Keeping demo cars road legal is very important to Japanese tuning shops, so a Sports Catalyst from the RE-Amemiya catalog was thrown in for kicks. And of course, the drivetrain had to be strengthened with a Sports Clutch Kit and limited-slip differential, also from RE-Amemiya.
Touge, or "mountain passes", are just regular roads-often roughly paved, with differing cambers and surfaces. As you can imagine, suspension choice and setup can make all the difference. While quadruple-adjustable Moton dampers and ultra-stiff Sprint springs may be the winning setup for Tsukuba cars, that's exactly what you don't want for stretches of road like Gunsai, where handling control is based heavily on stability over rough terrain. Which is why DG5 was called in: to custom valve and pressurize their adjustable dampers according to Amemiya-san's specifications, and then match them with the proper springs. Amemiya cars have developed a reputation for dominating the corners of Gunsai, catching up even to the most powerful machines. The FD chassis does have its advantages over others here, with its constrained curb weight and excellent distribution, but in the case of Amemiya-san's latest machine, Brembo F50 calipers, two-piece Project Mu slotted discs, and high-friction brake pads make all the difference. His opinion is that allowing drivers to brake into turns later, and power out of turns earlier, sustains higher speeds throughout the course.
Being an RE-Amemiya car, the "Devil King" sports a full Greddy 3 transformation, which drastically alters the car's stock lines. The look may not be to the liking of everyone-especially its much-debated rear end-but there's no denying the car looks mean and remains functional. The front end sports a much rounder contour, thanks to the bumper which also incorporates a built-in lower lip spoiler. The headlight conversion exchanges the factory pop-ups for HID IPF projectors, housed in a custom-built enclosure, for that all-important GT look and aerodynamic. Wider front and rear fenders plump the stance of the car, and the carbon fiber aero hood and rear hatch shave considerable weight. The rear is all custom and replaces the stock trunk line with a whole new swooping bumper and hatch ensemble, which, with the kit's bespoke light clusters, really loses the RX-7's identity when viewed from the rear-we love it, some hate it, so Amemiya-san now offers a slightly less radical rear option. The carbon rear wing, like the front canards, is there solely to develop downforce at speed-there are, after all, fast sections of Gunsai.
If you think the body color is a little over the top, then RE-Amemiya has achieved their goal: shock! This is a demo car, and the color was chosen for its ability to burn into the hippocampus of anyone who gazes upon it. The interior has been made only slightly less obnoxious, with the Bride fixed bucket seats quieting the stage. Red Sabelt harness keep occupants pinned down even through the most challenging twisties, but it's the green carbon-effect panels and steering spokes that may bring some to tears. Remember: Demo car. M7 gauges on the passenger side and a boost controller can also be found here, along with a steering-column-mounted boost gauge joining a 300 km/h combination meter set, both from RE-Amemiya.
With its lightweight Enkei GTC01s clad in ultra-sticky Yokohama Neova AD08 rubber, Taniguchi managed to lap Tsukuba with this beast in 1:02-a very impressive time for an FD running "only" 400 hp from stock turbos. With one Touge Max title to his name, Ken Amemiya is hoping to grab another title this year with Maou. Don't call us devil-worshippers, but after seeing how much heart and soul the Amemiya crew has invested in this machine, we'll be praying they realize their dream!
Flo-Rida (Chiba, Japan)
jockin' the b*thces, slappin' the h*es
"protect ya neck!"
Output: 400 HP @ 5,000 rpm, 340 lb-ft @ 5,700 rpm
Engine 13B side-ported engine; RE-Amemiya V-mount aluminum intercooler, radiator, piping, carbon fiber shrouding, Dolphin Tail titanium cat-back exhaust, aluminum pulley kit, oil catch tank, fuel-pressure regulator, braided fuel lines, oil filler cap, oil filter, Sports Catalyst, wire tuck; GReddy Airinx air filters; Odyssey battery; Apex'i Power FC; HKS EVC; M7 Japan electronic boost controller
Drivetrain RE-Amemiya Super Plate Clutch, Super Racing LSD
Suspension DG5 coilovers, custom-valved and sprung for RE-Amemiya; GReddy front strut tower bar
Wheels/Tires 17x9.5 +38mm offset Enkei GTC01 Racing Prototype wheels (front and rear); 255/40-17 Yokohama Advan Neova AD08 tires (front and rear)
Brakes Brembo F50 four-piston front calipers; Project Mu two-piece discs, pads, lines
Exterior RE-Amemiya Super Greddy 3 complete kit (fiberglass front bumper, rear bumper, front fenders, rear over-fenders, side skirts), carbon fiber hood, front canards, rear hatch, front lip, rear spoiler, Super Door Mirror, wiper arms, door handles, HID Type H11 headlight kit, Shark Fin antenna; custom bright-ass green paint
Interior RE-Amemiya white 300 km/h meters, boost gauge, column pod, carbon-look green trim, shift knob, leather shifter and hand-brake boots, carbon scuff plates; Bride Low Max bucket seats; Sabelt harnesses; Personal green carbon-look steering wheel; M7 Japan gauges (oil pressure, oil temperature, water temperature)
Electronics Alpine MDA-W925JB head unit
RE Amemiya's Old Favorite Car
Wild as its avant-garde styling was, Amemiya-san's predominant project last year was built for one practical purpose: to prove to the world that, 16 years after its introduction, the FD3S RX-7 should still be regarded as a contemporary, if not timeless machine. Its baby blue hues, dramatic widebody, controversial Lotus headlights, and atypical wheel covers gave it the appeal of a futuristic machine, but beneath all its show-stealing aesthetic beat a heart of performance.
This month's green machine was built strictly with performance in mind (OK . . . maybe there's a little flare mixed in), incorporating many of the power benefits developed for baby blue. The widened stance of today's Greddy 3-clad car matches that of the Genki 7's unorthodox re-body; the two cars' carbon-infused V-mounts and tucked engine bays look almost identical, aside from the obvious change in hue; even the Dolphin Tail titanium catback, carbon rear wing and Enkei rollers seen in today's car were present in the Genki 7 before it. But whereas the Amemiya team converted the Genki 7's stock twins to a single Trust TD07H-25G turbo, they elected to retain them in the new machine, for even faster throttle response and more plentiful low-end oomph. And why switch to an all-new body kit if the Genki 7's provided the same widened stance? Aside from the more traditional style of the Greddy 3, it was designed to unbolt in a hurry-perfect for Gunsai, where hitting the wrong pothole mid-turn might have you swapping intercoolers on the side of a very narrow road.