In Nicholas Cage's version of "Gone in 60 Seconds," his character, Memphis Raines, nailed the matter on the head. When it comes to cars and tuning, there are way too many self-indulgent wieners with too much bloody money. Even at the young age of 22, Erik Nomm knew the difference between wieners and connoisseurs when it came to sport compact imports.
Erik's first car was a first-generation USDM Subaru WRX. But even at the age of 18 when he first got the car, Erik knew that throwing wheelbarrows of money at a turbocharged AWD machine based on an econo-box sedan would only lead his tuning dreams into anonymity. In order to stand out, he needed to start out with the right platform. Even while driving the WRX, Erik started his search for the classic Japanese supercars, which rose and fell a decade well before he was able to drive. Topping the list was Toyota's fire-breathing Supra, the ultra-sexy Acura NSX and the pure sports car appeal of Mazda's third-generation RX-7 FD3S-all of which still fetch top dollar in the used-car market, thanks to the inflated demand generated by movies like "The Fast and the Furious." In the end, the NSX and Supra were just too expensive, so Erik whittled down the search to the less rare and more affordable Mazdas. He finally found his calling on Autotrader a year later in 2004: a pristine '94 base coupe Mazda RX-7 twin-turbo in Blaze Red with only 32,000 miles on the odometer. Erik was now a connoisseur.
Being the ambitious builder, the excellent condition of the car was a fair trade-off for the automatic transmission that was attached to it. Upon delivery, Erik immediately stepped in with the basic bolt-ons: an HKS filter, TEIN coilovers, the classic A'PEXi N1 dual exhaust and piggyback AFC controller which he installed himself. Meanwhile, he spent his nights in search of the right parts and people to handle the manual transmission swap that he was brewing up. He also took his time in searching for the right exterior treatment.
When it comes to the FD, few names are more synonymous than RE Amemiya. Erik knew that the company's widebody aero kit was the only way to properly augment the already muscular lines of his third-gen RX-7. But even with the resources of the Internet, finding a reliable source for the rare Japanese body work and shipping it to Fall Church, Virginia, wasn't easy. Erik finally found the kit and started discussions with the people at Rotary Extreme to make arrangements for purchase and delivery. Unfortunately, the company went belly up at the last minute and he was back to square one.
Erik ultimately found an Amemiya kit, but it wasn't the kit you see here. Erik found a kit for the later model cars with the '99 model front bumper and turn signals. For several months, the kit sat in his room staring at him each night as he went to bed. Unfortunately, the staring didn't help the matter and he eventually decided that the restyled late-model bumper wasn't the classic look he wanted on account of the new turn signals. The '99 kit was promptly ditched for the more aggressive AD GT widebody kit you see here with the original turn signals and the connoisseur's N1 carbon front lip and canards.
Reluctant at first, Erik finally found his source for the rare JDM parts through Japanparts.com, a dealer that operated out of the island nation many thousands of miles away. While waiting for the parts to be built and shipped (which cost more than $1,200 alone), Erik concentrated on the manual transmission swap he needed for the A'PEXi Power FC that had also been sitting in his closet for months. A local shop, RP Performance, was called in to do the swap. Although it took three months for the job to be complete, the guys at RP were able to source not only the transmission, but also all the hydraulic parts and pedal assembly needed to un-slushbox Erik's FD. This also opened the door for him to finally install the Power FC, which was only compatible with manual transmission cars.
With the transmission in and another Amemiya kit squatting in his bedroom, Erik set out quickly to begin the exterior transformation before he changed his mind again. He finally settled on a local body shop, M&M Collision, to install the kit. The shop installed the new bumpers, widebody components and repainted all the parts before shooting a third stage of clear pearl and installing the complex carbon aerodynamic aids. Erik also contemplated ordering the Amemiya clear bubble lights, but ultimately decided on the original pop-up lights for the proper era look. Armed with the one of the most extreme-looking FDs, Erik was now on everyone's "A" list, and Saturday nights were no longer lonely. Champagne now falls from the heavens, doors opened and velvet ropes parted. Wieners look out.
Specifications & Details
'94 Mazda RX-7
Mazda 13B-REV twin rotary turbocharged
HKS Racing Suction kit, D1 limited-edition oil cap and SSQV BOV, A'PEXi Dual N1 exhaust and Super Ground Stabilizer, RX-7 Store downpipe, high-flow cat, solid torque brace, SR Motorsports mid-pipe, Racing Beat spark plug wires, NGK Platinum plugs, SARD thermostat, RP main pulley and Y-pipe upgrade kit, Trust hard pipes, Carbing cooling plate
A'PEXi Power FC and auto timer
Centerforce lightened flywheel, ACT Stage 2 Clutch, B&M short shifter
Stance coilovers w/ SWIFT springs 14kg (f)/14kg, RX-7 Store trailing arms, toe links, Carbing front strut tower brace and front lower arm bar, Tanabe anitroll bars, Nagisa Auto Shakitto Plates, RE Amemiya rear rigid harness bar
Wheels, Tires and Brakes
Work Meister 3p 18x10 +43 et, (f) 18x11 +35 et, Toyo T1R 245/35R18 (f) and 285/30R18, EBC green stuff brake pads, KVR cross-drilled rotors
RE Amemiya AD GT widebody kit, N1 older style front bumper, carbon diffuser w/ carbon pro canards and GT II Carbon Wing, ShineAuto Project RE Style carbon rear diffuser, EVO-R 10,000K HID kit, APR GT3 carbon mirrors
Status Racing RING seats covered in black Alcantara, custom seat rails, Safecraft 5-point harness, Alpine Head Unit, JL Audio 250/1 amp, 12" JL W3v2, push start button
RP Performance: manual trans swap; B&T Motorsports: SAFC and PFC tuning; Brown's Fairfax Mazda: hookin' me up with great deals and service; M&M Collision: body work and paint; Rishie at AutoRND.com; friends and family for supporting my car sickness; thanks to Jess for putting up with the harsh ride provided by the SWIFT springs-you're the best!