Ever since I saw Rod's feature on the Dandy FC3S during the Bonneville Speed week I have been meaning to drop by their shop to check out not only the RX-7 but also meet the man behind it all, Dandy Tanaka. Kindly enough Tsuyoshi Narita, a customer and follower of Dandy kindly arranged my visit during a rather warm winter Saturday afternoon.
It never fails to amaze me the location of some of the shops and garages I get to visit here in Japan. You can forget those massive industrial estates a lot of tuners in the US and Europe are based out of, in Japan things are done on a smaller scale and Dandy is the perfect example. The two-story building is located in Fuchu, on the outskirts of Tokyo, in a regular suburban neighborhood.
Upon my arrival Yoshi-san was already waiting for me, and the guys at Dandy were busy at work on some of their customers cars. Dandy Tanaka, has always been passionate about Nissans and most of his customers' drive GT-Rs and Silvias. He built up his reputation working for Central 20 back in the day, a respected Fairlady Z tuning shop. He then set up his own shop, preferring to do things his own way and work at his pace. Dandy is especially well-known now for its bulletproof ECU setting capabilities and as you can see in the picture above they use a Dynapack hub-dyno as a tuning tool while creating custom maps. As Yoshi-san explains the 13B Tanaka-san built for Toru-san, the owner and driver of the car, was his first rotary build, and impressed many people in the tuning world for never failing under heavy use.
The FC is of course back in Japan now. Work has now started in preparing it for Bonneville 2010, getting some minor details taken care of to make sure the team doesn't run into problems during the safety inspections and to make sure they have no more handling issues.
I was very impressed with the care taken in laying out the fuel system, beautiful to look at as much as it is functional.
The 13B will be getting some minor tweaks too, as well as a rebuilt to make sure it is in tip top condition to pursue a new top speed attempt.
Nothing quite completes an engine bay as well as a massive blower and the Garrett GT4509R is definitely not shy on the size front. I loved the blue aluminum funnel, matching the deep blue FC's body.
The man himself, "Dandy Tanaka." He was actually given the nickname by his good friend Daijiro Inada, who started to call him "Dandy" teasing him for his handsome looks. As they say, the name stuck! In the picture Tanaka-san is holding the new electrical water pump that will be fitted to make sure optimal water circulation is held throughout the speed runs.
I noticed not all of the 13B's injectors were plugged in, apparently the extra ones are there to be used in a more powerful future build of the engine. Whether this will happen this year hasn't been decided yet, as there are more pressing things to address…
…like making the car pass all inspections. First thing that will be done it to fit a full competition race bucket seat that has a built in side bracing to keep the driver's head from moving around violently from side to side in case of an accident. The temporary braces fitted to the Recaro seat above were made at Bonneville.
The bolt-in roll-cage will be getting replaced by one compliant with SCTA safety standards. This will call for the addition of braces to add more stiffness and support to the bars.
This is the dash unit everyone should have! The Defi Super Sports Cluster offers all the information and parameters one could ever require, without the need for additional and messy gauges to be scattered around the dashboard and pillars.
The last red sticker on this line-up marks the end of the 2009 run for Toru and the Dandy team. After managing an official top speed figure of 211 mph there was nothing that could have been done to cure the car's stability issues. 2010 will no doubt bring even better results.
Vintage SSR goodness.
Tanaka-san showing everyone in the shop the new Simpson race boots that had just come in. These will be used by Toru-san during his next top speed attempt.
I wanted to take a closer look under the FC to see what changes were made to the suspension. As you can see the rear end was converted to a solid rear axle, which is more stable during high speed runs than independent suspension. Most components haven't been spared from the corrosive salt of Bonneville, visibly rusting and oxidizing. Everything prone to rust has been covered in grease, which offers some protection. Check out the custom titanium exhaust, something that definitely will not rust!
Here is a closer look at the rear brakes. Salt is a killer!
And the mounting points for the suspension links.
This is how things look like at the front. The Goodyears are very narrow, which helps them dig in deeper into the salt. I never actually realized FCs had aluminum lower suspension arms, very impressive.
The screamer pipe coming from the external wastegate. I bet this thing shoots out some mighty flames!
Tanaka-san let me wander around his office where tons of memorabilia is proudly displayed…
…along with this poster of his 1990 outings with the 300ZX back in his Central 20 days.
I even spotted this cool little Dandy-logoed Fireklip lighter holder, which resembles a tire tread pattern.
It was really cool to check out the tons of pictures from back in the day when Tanaka and Toru first took out the FC to Bonneville. That is Tanaka-san and his wife pictured in the shot at the bottom of the page.
Dai-chan has always been very passionate about high speed runs and never missed a chance to head out to the US with the Dandy crew. Here he is working on his sun tan.
Speed is something that is obviously shared in the family; Tanaka-san's wife not only has had her fair share of experience competing in high-speed events but also likes a bit of excitement on two wheels. This is her red Ducati above, parked next to Tanaka-san's 750 cc Suzuki.
I'd like to thank Tanaka-san for his hospitality and for Yoshi-san for setting everything up! I could have probably stayed there all night chatting about cars!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare