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Blue Panther RX-7 - Mazda RX-7

Nov 8, 2004
Turp_0411_01_z+mazda_rx7+infini_brakes Photo 1/1   |   Blue Panther RX-7 - Mazda RX-7

They say RX-7 owners, no matter what generation the "7" may be, are a discriminating breed. To a certain extent, RX-7 owner Les Wong prides himself on being big into Mazda mania. They also say the third time is a charm. We couldn't agree more. The third-generation RX-7 is one-of-a-kind. Even before acquiring this work of art, Les already started imagining how to modify it, upgrade it and tune it in such a manner that would not only reflect its uniqueness, but also enhance it. As such, Mr. Wong elected to discriminate, once again his project took on a decidedly J-spec aura. Les researched many different manufacturers and tuners in Japan and found that Endless was not only the company of choice for his footwork tuning, but that it also recently set up shop in North America. The foundation for his Mazda's transformation were locked down.

Although Endless is known as one of the premier brake and suspension manufacturers in Japan, only a handful of JDM enthusiasts in the United States seem to be using its products. Les soon learned that not only does Endless produce race-proven brake packages, it also sells high-end suspension systems under the label ZEAL. For readers who are unfamiliar with Endless, it has a strong racing history.

In Japan, the JGTC (All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship) is the most widely viewed motorsport. Endless is one of the few privately held, independent companies in Japan that race in the top category (GT500) of JGTC. It supplies and collects data from numerous race teams and participates in both Formula Nippon and JGTC racing.

The company also expanded its activities to include Japan's One-Make Races, the Super Taikyu Endurance Series and became more involved with motorsports outside of Japan, including the World Rally Championship (WRC), Le Mans Series, British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and the Bathurst 1000.

While starting this RX-7's journey some nine years ago, Les was excited to be one of the very first to help represent a Japanese company with such deep racing roots in America. Being an Endless vehicle, we'll begin with the stopping power. Les opted for the less aggressive, custom 4-POT Safety Braking System kit up front, which includes super lightweight calipers, 24-slot one-piece rotors, Earl's Teflon-coated stainless-steel brake lines and street compound brake pads. The aluminum brake calipers are two-piece, P6 heat-treated, cast-alloy units. These same pieces are used on the infamous Endless Skyline R33 in the grueling N-1 Endurance series.

For the rear, Les scored Mazda Spirit-R calipers from a Japanese-spec 2002 RX-7 (thanks to Kelvin at Mazdaspeed) outfitted with ZEAL straight-six slotted rotors, Earl's Teflon-coated stainless-steel brake lines and Super Street Sport "S" compound pads.

Although Les owns a set of Mazdaspeed MS02 wheels, he wanted to maintain the strong association between Endless and Work Wheels, a very reputable wheel manufacturer in Japan. As such, he contacted Automotive R&D of Milpitas, Calif., a Work Wheels distributor, who at the last minute helped to provide a set of Work Termist S1C wheels, sized 18x8.5 up front and 18x11.5 out back. The Work Wheels match the integrated Pettit rear fender flares, painted and finished flawlessly by M1 Paint and Body of Southern California, for an aggressive rear wide-body stance. The wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, 225/40R-18 up front and 335/35R-18 in the rear.

As for exterior enhancements, an A'PEXi front fascia was added along with Signal canards and RE Amemiya side skirts and rear bumper. OEM taillights from a 1999 Japan-spec Mazda are integrated into the rear end. CATZ driving beams enhance the front end as well as provide an extra safety margin for night driving. The Rotary Run Racing hood features F50 vents and the headlights are one-of-a-kind, modified with intake piping. A Veilside GT3 rear wing (painted by Image Paint and Body of Sacramento, Calif.), FEED carbon-fiber door latches and intake manifold cover and an RE Amemiya carbon-fiber rear diffuser were added to finish off the exterior.

If you can peer through the tint applied by AB Autosport of Sacramento, Calif., you can see the goodies inside this blue panther. Razo aluminum racing pedals and Ultra black shift knob dress up the business end of the interior. RE Amemiya comes back into the picture with a D-style steering wheel, and finally, you can't miss the super rare ZEAL race bucket seats.

Now for the meat on the bone. Les chose to realize his power dreams by converting to a single turbo setup. An A'PEXi Isamu RX-6 ball-bearing turbo kit, full stainless-steel exhaust manifold, front-pipe and wastegate discharge port, Power Intake Filter kit and racing wastegate pump out the boost. An A'PEXi Super AVC-R boost control and Rev/Speed Meter GP regulate the boost and provide engine monitoring. The Rev Meter measures and displays data such as vehicle speed, engine RPM and elapsed times. The AVC-R is a closed-loop, electronic boost controller that has a multitude of functions to choose from.

Fuel tuning is accomplished using an HKS F-CON V Pro, larger RC 1300cc secondary injectors, a SARD fuel pressure regulator and a Skyline GT-R fuel pump. An SR Motorsport downpipe and midpipe and Tanabe Ultra Medalion titanium exhaust expel the unwanted air without weighing the car down.

Dressing up the engine bay is a Hose Techniques silicone hose kit for the vacuum lines and fittings and a Hyper Ground Systems wire kit. The Hyper Ground kit uses thick gauge wire, made of 99.99-percent pure copper, to connect directly from the cylinder head and other points under the hood to the battery to engender an ultra low resistance connection. This helps the vehicle gain torque and horsepower and can increase gas mileage and throttle response, among other benefits. Ground wires are a detail that many performance enthusiasts overlook but are a worthwhile investment.

Nology HotWires paired with NGK spark plugs create the most powerful spark possible. A built-in capacitor in each wire allows energy from the ignition coil to be stored in the capacitor until the voltage at the spark plug electrode reaches the ionization point. When needed, the stored energy is discharged at once, creating a spark 300 times more powerful than stock. We like applications that increase horsepower and are smog legal.

Transmission modifications are kept to a minimum with only an Exedy Hyper Twin clutch. This clutch is suitable to handle most any abuse thrown at it, either on the street, at the drags, or during road or rally racing.

Signal Auto of Torrance, Calif., engineered and installed a custom V-mount intercooler (the slanted-core look popular with the drifting crowd) and Koyo aluminum radiator setup for maximum cooling efficiency. This was Signal's first RX-7 V-mount setup in the United States and the results are astounding.

ZEAL Function-B6 damping and height adjustable coil-overs with aluminum rigid mounts and a large piston, for direct feel and a solid ride, were used for suspension handling. Height adjustability without sacrificing stroke is not a problem here. Les credits the RX-7's very responsive handling to the ability to tune the suspension to handle the engine's power without sacrificing a civil ride. The ZEAL adjustable damping dial is one of the most aesthetic we've seen to date.

Additional suspension modifications include an AutoExe full underbody crossmember brace kit for increased body rigidity and Tanabe Sustec Stabilizer large diameter sway bars at both ends. The sway bars increase roll resistance and cornering stability without the need to increase spring rates. Carbing's three-point strut tower brace, one of the newer looks for JDM engines, finishes off the suspension mods.

The ever-popular A'PEXi USA crew was kind enough to provide a new DECS Tachometer. It sits in the center dash area, lighting up beautifully to match the other JDM parts in the car. The DECS tachometer features a digital display on a 120mm large analogue panel with an 11,000 rpm scale reading. Temperature and pressure readings (i.e., water, oil, etc.) can be shown with the addition of optional sensors. It also features an external shift lamp to keep shifting efficient.

For the I.C.E., Les went all out with a Sony ES 1000-watt amp to drive the Xplod 4x8-inch subs. An ES five-channel amp with EQX powers the front component speakers. A PS2 was installed for when the gaming bug bites. Paradyme claims credit for the very cool RX-7 etched glass amp enclosure.

For viewing pleasure, Les chose a Kenwood DDX7015 in-dash 2-DIN 6.5-inch monitor . So the backseat passengers don't feel left out, a Pioneer W6000 monitor and a Kicker component set were installed. This whole setup is better than our home entertainment system so we'll just hang out in Les' car next time there's a good DVD to watch.

Les states this blue panther "feels like no other street car I've ever driven. Stiff enough to be stable in quick turns, yet smooth enough to handle the imperfections of the normal road conditions. All in all, the perfect balance of suspension to power ratio." Les also relished working directly with some of the most reputable Japanese manufacturers and tuners. As he says, "it's a JDM lover's dream come true." Les hopes he has helped to promote and educate car lovers in the United States to "spend a little more and get a little more." Well said, Turbo couldn't agree more. You get what you pay for, so let this be your lesson of the day.


Irvine, CA 92614
Tanabe USA
Torrance, CA 90501
Los Angeles, CA 90061
A'pex Integration
Orange, CA 92865
AB Autosports
Automotive R&D



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