Inspiration; it’s a word we all use and understand, but I believe we seldom realize just how strongly it impacts our lives. No matter what it is we’re going through we draw inspiration from past experiences which inevitably define our future. In the world of cars inspiration is the common bond we as enthusiasts have the keep us building and tweaking for year after year.
Whether people realize it or not, even the most unique harebrained one-off creations are inspired by something. Other times you can look at a car and quite clearly see the inspiration behind a certain build, and at first glance I’d presume most of you see the IMSA GTU influence that is gushing from this RX-7.
Everything about the car right down to the very deliberate color scheme screams of an era when many of you reading this were yet to be born. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t appreciate such a machine, in fact I’d argue to the contrary. There’s a saying that “everything goes in cycles” in regards to fashion and trends and I’d say that with the advent of apps like Instagram and stores like Urban Outfitters, this is a period in time that is very “in” at the moment.
If you don’t believe me, look no further than our own industry for proof. Take for example the recent trend of reproducing discontinued wheels like the beautiful Work CR-01s on this Savanna. And it isn’t only Work that have taken a page from that book as Enkei has followed suit and Volk has even gone as far as to introduce brand new retro-inspired designs. But despite the obvious cues, this car wasn’t inspired by the past, at least not entirely…
In reality this car is the byproduct of a collectable children’s toy. Some months ago Jun Imai from Mattel, who’s Datsun Wagon was recently spotlighted, reached out to JDM Legends about building a RX-7 and using their logos on it. Jun ended up doing the design work shaping the car while Brandon Ozaki, who also owns a SA I spotted at JCCS, did the livery.
So in a strange case of automotive “chicken or the egg”, this car is actually a life sized replica of the Hot Wheels car, and a what a beauty it is! Some of you might remember seeing this car in a work-in-progress state from Mike’s shop visit last month. I think it goes without saying that an unimaginable amount of work was completed since then to get the car ready for JCCS.
Just a few weeks ago this car was in a much more raw state, fresh off the container from Japan. For those of you that don’t know much about JDM Legends, they are (amongst other things) in the business of finding, importing and selling classic Japanese cars. This RX-7 is a prime example of what they can source, a rare first generation Turbo model.
Eric, the owner of the car and shop manager at JDM Legends, was astonished to find that the original 12A engine fired up on the very first try from the container. With just less than two months before JCCS this was very good news, as Eric knew that he wouldn’t have time to do a complete build so this allowed him to focus on the exterior first.
Fortunately he began planning the build before the car ever made it to American shores and already had the IMSA replica body kit sourced from Japan and sitting the the warehouse awaiting the chassis. In addition to the kit, the massive Mariah Motorsports IMSA rear wing was also shipped from SoCal and patiently awaiting the RX-7.
He also knew that in order to get the set of special ordered 15X10/11 Work wheels he would have to order them ASAP, so as soon as the car arrived the first thing the crew did was fit the fenders and start taking some measurements. I’d say that they were right on the money! Once everything was mocked up the car was sent off for paint and body work which included smoothing out the FRP pieces and shaving a few unwanted holes.
With what little time they had left over Eric decided to add a few bits to pep up the rotary. A basic tune up was the first order of business followed by an HKS filter. I’ve been assured that there is still lots more to come for the engine as it is destined to become a track car in the future.
However I must admit that even as it sits the car has a pretty gnarly exhaust note, thanks largely to a custom straight exhaust with a radical turndown tip.
In terms of footwork Eric decided to keep it simple and go with what he knew and adapted a popular setup from the hachiroku world onto his seven. A set of shortened Tokico HTS shocks were mated to some Eibach springs and are coupled with Techno Toy Tuning front camber plates and RE-Speed rear upper mounts. The setup is likely to be further refined once some seat time has been accrued.
While a burly rollcage and bucket seats are in the works, at this point the interior of the car is by far and away the most stock part of the car. And my gosh does it scream ’80′s. There’s nothing quite like a nice burgundy interior to remind me of my childhood.
Even the details hint at the period in which this car was designed. Has there ever been a better way to say you’re proud of an accomplishment besides emblazoning it on a three-dimensional badge on the dashboard? I think not. And speaking of things going in cycles, that circular air vent doesn’t look all too different from those I keep seeing popping up in current vehicles.
There is, however, a modification inside the car… actually there are two. The first of which is probably of little interest to anyone other than die hard rotary fans, a set of FEED floor mats. But a vintage HKS compound boost gauge on the other hand is probably filed under cool in anyone’s book.
Although it still has a ways to go before Eric is happy with it, this car has had quite an effect on me providing some much needed inspiration of my own. The way I shot the car, the backgrounds I chose and the hues I selected afterward are all a result of the feeling it gave me. There’s just something about it that speaks to me, it’s so effortlessly cool. It’s a real treat just to be around cars like this, let alone make a living from it.
I’d be lying if I said I was ever a huge fan of the first generation RX-7 but after shooting this car I’ll never look at them the same again. It’s obviously aggressive but equally done in good taste, and somehow just as accessible to non-enthusiasts as it is die hard JDM junkies. Perhaps not surprisingly much like a Hot Wheels car I suppose. Hopefully those of you that took the time to see it will reap some of the butterfly effect and find some inspiration of your own – I know I have.
JDM Legends 1984 Savanna RX-7
Original JDM 12a turbo engine; HKS Super Power Flow air intake; custom built 3″ stainless steel exhaust
ENGINE MANAGEMENT / ELECTRONICS
HKS compound boost gauge
Factory transmission, optional factory LSD
SUSPENSION / CHASSIS
JDM Legends custom front shock setup using AE86 Tokico short -stroke HTS Shocks (f/r); T3 front spring perches, front roll center adjusters, camber plates; 400 lb. Eibach springs (f); RE-Speed rear adjustable spring perches w/ 200lb. springs.
Factory 4×114 suspension with rear discs
WHEELS / TIRES
15″x10″ -28 (f) / 15″x11″ -16 (r)Work CR-01 wheels w/ Matte Gunmetal (MGM) centers and Bronze anodized barrels; 225/50R15 (f) / 235/50R15 (r) Toyo Proxes R888 Tires
Factory interior; FEED floor mats
IMSA replica over-fenders and front air dam; Mariah Motorsports IMSA rear spoiler; shaved badges, rear wiper sprayer, antenna and mirrors; paint by Mauricio Rosales
JDM Legends does it yet again! Like you said Sean, I was also never a fan of the first gen RX-7 but after seeing this car I look at them in a completely different light... Now to choose a desktop! Such a difficult task... Great shoot man!
Color scheme is cool but my bro just pointed out that it looks like the car's got the German flag wrapped around it and now I can't unsee it. :(
This reminds me.. if you love rotaries.. and perhaps also love comic books.. you'll really like this shirt we've got on presale http://gearheadshirts.com/products/497064-mazda-rotary-iron-man
I absolutely love the retro colour scheme of this car. It's been a while since I changed my desktop background, and now I've finally found something worth changing it to. Thanks for the great photos, Sean.
So happy with the way this thing turned out - and even more impressed with how fast they got it done.
Going to look at one of these tomorrow, coincidence that there is a feature on here the day before? I think not! Awesome work.
this is by far my favorite spotlight in a while, not only because i have that hot wheels car, but i am also a big fan of the 1st gen RX-7
MichaelKN It's loading properly on my end, although I did have one other person mention it was loading in mobile mode as well. If it happens again in the future there should be a link at the bottom left of the page that allows you to manually load the full site.
Absolutely beautiful. And to think we killed so many of these and drilled those rare 12A turbo plenums to bolt onto Nikki 4 barrel carbs. Sacrilege!
Absolutely love that car. There are so few down in SA. I was lucky enough to shoot one at a car show a little while ago. Needless to say I ignored all the other cars there. I also just got the hotwheels one a few weeks ago but in blue. Great article Sean. Love the location.
BoostSA_Jason As I mentioned in the article I've never really found these cars to be all that good looking, but this one is impeccable. Now I just need to go out and get the Hot Wheels version lol.
Wow this is absolutley perfect! I actually have the Hot Wheels version because I love the IMSA look & this has to be THE best looking SA I've ever seen. The color combo & all of the little details & retro accesories really set this car off, this is why I love JDM Legends!
@JDMized You obviously can't enjoy it for what is, can't you? The original engine is perfect to that car, leave it as is.
Pretty sure this is an SA... i know wikipedia isn't the best source... but i just read this. "The Series 2 (1981–1983)Known as the "FB" in North America after the US Department of Transportation mandated 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number changeover. For various other markets worldwide, the 1981–1985 RX-7 retained the 'SA22C' VIN prefix." So since the car is a JDM vehicle, i think it classifies as an SA.JoshChaney
JoshChaney You are correct he was simply referring to the Series 2/3 Bodystyle (JDM Legends car is a Series 3) which is what we North Americans call the FB body, the series 1 (Hot Wheels Car) was before the VIN change so it's still called an SA even in North America.
Reworded his comment would read "The only lame part is how they used an Series 3 RX7 to replicate an Series 1."
One of my best friends owns a 1979 SA RX7, so I know what they look like. The progression of these responses has, at length, led to the clarification of what I intended to say with my above comment.
@JoshChaney What doesn't need to be clarified is how lame you are for making that comment. Please post link for the feature on your series correct HotWheels replica car.
JoshChaney Josh, unfortunately while I would love more than anything to have a screaming 9000 RPM peripheral ported, n/a 12a motor in a series 1 chassis, what you have to understand is that this car was never intended to be a "replica" of anything. Instead, we drew inspiration from both the 79' IMSA race cars as well as the Hotwheels car that Jun and Brandon designed and then added a bit of our own style.
As Sean mentioned, we are importers of Japanese market vehicles so when presented with the option of what chassis to bring in, it could have either been a series 1, RHD model of something that was otherwise readily available stateside, or the more rare 12a turbo model that was never offered here. So in that respect, the choice was simple.
Thanks for the comments guys!
This is exactly how I would want a first gen RX-7. Now only if Cali didn't need smog for it..