A Wild RX-7 Appears
Not So Stock

When I spotted this Mazda at Wekfest SJ where it won Best RX-7, I knew I would need to find time to take a closer look. After all, it’s not every day you see a car that is this transformed from its original state.

I made the drive out to Modesto in Stanislaus County, California where SSautoPower’s workshop is located to get some images of the car as well as take a peek at a certain, secret project that’s underway. You may know these guys from their popular online presence as SSworxs where they sell all manner of parts, many of which are designed and built in-house.

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I was greeted by the sound of the FD’s motor warming up and was again amazed at the extensive level of recreation and redesign that’s taken place on this car. It’s obvious that the selected parts are not of the ordinary, off-the-shelf variety, either. This is a car that has very much gone under the knife using highly-developed components.

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I’m sure the results will displease a number of Mazda purists and I fully understand the cult-like following these rotary-powered cars have; the last FD I featured got a lot of heat for ditching the 13B.

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Thus, while some may cry foul, I’m sure everyone will be quite pleased to learn that this car retains the proper rotary powerplant, if not the classic body lines. Those lines have been replaced by new panels which were all built in-house at Kind Red Company (KRC, also KRCmodified) in their Osaka headquarters, like all other body kits that the company ships. It’s also worth mentioning a percentage of KRC’s profits ends up in Japanese charities.

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The RX-7’s owner, Tsutsui-san of KRC, was kind enough to lend the car to SSautoPower for a few months, and during that time it won multiple awards at major California car shows and saw some track time at Laguna Seca (previously it had been driven in Japan at Okayama Circuit, Suzuka Twin, and Fuji Speedway). So, this isn’t just some hard-parked show car, but instead a hardcore, functional build.

The Brutality Of The Thing
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Of course, the first thing that really (almost literally) jumps out at you is the exterior of the car. While the aesthetics of the machine have been completely redesigned, it’s done so in a way that keeps the soul of the 1995 FD3S intact.

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The car is certainly wider, bigger, and far more aggressive than the original design, but it still manages to appear small and agile. The KRC kit also ensures that in addition to its modified appearance, each part of the car now provides some additional functionality. Firstly, the kit is quite a bit lighter (Lexan windows help here, too) than the original panels — always a good thing.

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Also, each area now supplies a bit of added downforce, as well as vastly improved heat extraction to help the C&R Racing aluminum radiator keep everything cool. The rotary platform isn’t exactly a shining example of long-term reliability, so any bit of heat you can remove from the engine bay is a step in the right direction. Especially when you’re making boost.

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An HKS T51R Kai turbo helps add a healthy dose of power to the rear wheels of a setup that was already fast. The turbo is paired with an HKS F-CON V Pro ECU which was tuned by SSautoPower to make a hair over 700 horsepower. Of course, this would not have been possible without a dependable 13B build, a feat performed by Fujita Engineering in Osaka, along with a number of other power mods.

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Additional upgrades to the engine bay include a ported intake manifold and throttle body, along with a front-mounted intercooler which supplies plenty of air for the Sard injectors to mix fuel into. After ignition occurs, spent gasses are sent through an HKS manifold and out the back via a titanium exhaust, also courtesy of HKS.

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Perhaps best of all is the fact that the power travels into an HKS dogbox which uses an ORC twin-plate clutch. The combo is an absolute blast to hammer on as the responsiveness of this setup is simply mind-blowing. Power is finally delivered to the wheels from a Cusco 1.5-way limited slip differential which creates a car that’s great on turn-in and helps make the rear end a little slippery when you’d like it to be.

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Daniel Mendoza of SSautoPower was caretaker of the car during its time in the States and he was keen to point out the red replacement body panel that resides on the passenger side of the car. I asked if it was by design and he laughed sheepishly — it certainly was not.

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The story is quite simple and goes as I’m sure many do. It starts with the addition of a wet 300 shot of nitrous and ends in a K-wall at the racetrack; Daniel miscalculated through a chicane and sent the car flying off the tarmac with all of its new-found power. Luckily the damage was minimal. The red panels were to be temporary, but now they’ve become permanent residents on the body.

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With the nitrous addition, it certainly would be easy to find out too late that you’ve called for too much of it, especially in a car that weighs less than 1,300kg. All-in-all, it’s an absolutely brutal machine.

Raw On The Inside
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This philosophy carries over to the stripped-down interior as well, where you find a plethora of aftermarket parts. It seems there’s not a square inch of this car that hasn’t been modified in some way or another.

While much of the interior is no longer present in the spirit of adding lightness, there have been a few additions as well. Most interestingly the side-mirror camera system, which nicely fits into the aesthetic of the car. I don’t know how I feel about looking at a screen versus a traditional glass mirror, but I’m sure I’d get used to it if I was lucky enough to own the car. Besides, the extra functionality on the street would far outweigh any disadvantages with the system, which works well in low light as well.

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Another obvious addition is the giant nitrous bottle in the center of the car; if the build wasn’t Fast & Furious-esque enough for you, this ought to do it. On that note, I noticed a certain few signatures on the dash. Turns out the car was signed by members of the cast from the F&F franchise, which is a nice little bonus.

Surrounding the right-hand drive layout you find a KRC carbon fiber dash replacing the factory plastics along with an SSWorxs center race console and a number of switches, including a nice, big, red ‘Engine Start’ button. Brap brap!

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A RevolverR (which is a KRC sister brand) steering wheel and seat aid in driver feel and help keep the pilot, and thus the car, planted. Safety equipment includes Sabelt harnesses and a Cusco chromoly roll-cage.

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Underneath it all, RevolverR coilovers utilizing Eibach springs provide better handling with an adjustable ride height. Mazda FD3S Bathurst R suspension links and body bushings further stiffen things up, while Project Mu brake pads, rotors, and brake lines help bring everything to a quick stop.

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Of course, you can only stop as fast as the rubber on your wheels allows, and here a Hankook race compound only available in Japan has been chosen for the 295-width tires on all four corners. The wheels are 18×10-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37SLs with a zero offset.

See You Soon SSautoPower
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The end result is an absolutely wild FD3S and it is able to drive every bit as insanely as it looks. There’s more power than you could ever really need, the crazy aero kit is designed to work, the functionality in the cockpit is phenomenal, and the braking force is paired nicely with the drivetrain. It’s balanced; you can feel everything you need to from right behind the wheel.

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Other cars at SSautoPower, while somewhat more reserved, were also very well-executed. You might be familiar with this yellow RX-7 from Wekfest SJ (where it won Best Mazda in the show) and other local meets like Cars and Coffee Modesto and the Raceworz drag strip event in Sacramento.

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It features a Hummer H2 6.0-liter V8 swap, and borrows some of the same components as the black FD while maintaining the interior and a more factory-like appearance.

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There’s also a project going on here that I wasn’t allowed to share photos of just yet. It’s another reason to make the trip out to SSautoPower in Modesto again, something I hope to achieve before the SEMA Show at the end of next month when the car will be revealed.

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Back to the RX-7 at hand, this would be its last week in America. Daniel wanted to give the car a proper send-off, and in typical American fashion what better way than a burnout? The quality of the streets outdoors were proving to be similar to a cheese grater, so we found ourselves back at the workshop.

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With over 700hp tearing up the rear tires the building quickly filled with smoke, bringing the shenanigans to an end. At this point Daniel flipped me the bird and proceeded to treat me to dinner for making the drive out. A few others who share the shop space came along, and we talked about their future plans as a team and the top secret build that’s going down.

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Back to real-time, the FD has successfully been returned to Japan where I’m certain it will find its way back to the Japanese circuits it was developed on and, rumor is, eventually to the Nürburgring. To top it off, this thing is still registered and driven on the road in its homeland. I hope to someday visit this awesome car overseas; we shall see.

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Every square inch of the KRC/SSworxs FD3S incites emotion. Whether you spot it static at a show or you’re behind the wheel and trashing it on a racetrack, each encounter with the thing is an experience. To me, it’s an exciting, over-the-top build that truly makes you feel something.

Let us know how you feel about it in the comments section below.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto
TYRphoto.com

Cutting Room Floor
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64 comments

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1

That is one ugly, butchered RX7. RIP.

2

Not a fan of it. To each his own

3

I think this car looks OK (no one seems to like the original lines :'( , but we've said it in the past - it's someone else's car, let them do whatever they want to/with it)... I love the fact it's kept the rotary engine (which, IMHO, made it unique, and also worthy of that "R" in its name) (P.S by the way, Trevor, maybe we should make it a convention to call piston-swapped RX-7s/8s "MX-7/8" - makes way more sense IMHO), and the turbo to go with it... I'm still wondering, though, doesn't anyone like the factory, flowing lines of the stock FD? From the kits I've seen, only Rocket Bunny seems to retain some curves, everyone else is going for aggressive angled body-kits. Wondering if any of those trends will be changing now that the FD is reaching the realm of a "modern classic" (or, maybe it has reached that point already and not much has changed? - discuss)...

4

I think the FD is one of the best looking cars to come out of Japan. Most of the body kits for them spoil the look ( I do like the Pan Speed time attack car though).

I am not a fan of this body kit.

5

This is some crazy frankenstein shit. I kinda like it.

Didn't the last guy ditch the rotary after only 30k miles? That's probably why he got heat for it.

6

Yes, he sold it in great shape to someone who needed it. I understand the resistance but he made some other rotary enthusiast very happy in the process, so it's really a win-win.

7
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I know KRC wants to stand out with their kit designs, but they just tried too hard. Everything ends up looking very confusing and busy.

8

What's with that ride height fam?

9

That is correct, it squats down quite a bit under speed.

10

F U N C T I O N

11

downforce pushes it down

12

I personally think its looks fkn dope!. WHY??..cuz one its not what you see as normal..its against the grain which makes not only the car but the shop in general unique. Why do what others do or whats considered normal or "what ur supposed to make a rx7 look like" if you dont like what theyre doing then follow the herd to the basics while they work day n night to pave the way to give a classic japanese car a future look for years to come. Keep up the good work fellas ur doing big things. The car looks beast!!

13

Ewww. Tasteless chasing beast. Tasteless won.

14

This doesn't really look "future", just wild and some sort of functional I guess

15

Truly wild

16

KRC絶影、やっぱらめちゃくちゃカッコいい!!

日本で見れるのが楽しみ!!

17

Dom, is that you?

18

Ditch the stickers rattle can mat black..

20

Why? This car should not be featured, custom doesn't mean good not when it looks like a melted hairdryer.
Please stop featuring crap like this you guys are better than that.

21

OMG!!! Didn’t know that KRC cars are on the SH!!!
I don’t know in U.S., but they are famous in Japan and hear a lot about them. I don’t care other people like their design or not.
I think their cars are cool and awesome!!! XD

22

that mercury kit on the 350z is so bad ass i hope the scene doesnt become over saturated with it like it has with every other kit.. hopefully its 5000 price tags keeps the people away

23

Apparently nobody told me this place existed because I live here and I literally thought the only car culture here was the lifted yeehaw mall crawlers and ricers all over the damn place. So seeing this somewhat melted my heart.

Trevor if you ever make it back out to Modesto pls tell me bc I wanna see what happens BTS

24

Yeah what you describe was how I felt when I was stuck in Chico. Find SSworxs on instagram and they usually post the meets they go to!

25

Very Good ‼️

26

めっちゃかっこいいです。
日本で早く見たい!

27

Love the hood and lines, lots of function matched with form here. Also I need that tapatio blow-up, coincidentally I'm currently eating tacos from a local Mex store with tapatio on them, I keep a bottle at work lol.

28

Very cool !
Innovation!

29

I may be a fan of GT-ish FD, but this unique tune somehow works.
The rear wing...still confused when my preference of spoiler for FD is either GT-wing or rally wing like the stock one from '98 one.

Hope there are details about the yellow FD...you know, yellow matches FD to me thanks to Initial D.

30

Every time I post a photo of that yellow car people want to know more. (Thanks Keisuke !) I'll definitely be back to visit the shop again.

31

People will always hate on different.
Just because it's not stanced and painted some candy paint job it's not made to please everybody someone does something that they like and it's considered "butchered "

32

that poor poor car. literally the ugliest rx7 i have ever seen, looks like a high schoolers drawing came to life.

33

KRC is ingenious and my ideals.
I respect the people involved in production.
I expect in the future.

34

It is the ugliest rx7 ever. Looks like a Hot Wheels fd that was dropped in the garbage disposal. the performance part is way cool.

35

I like this car in the same way I like a super trashy girl who hates her dad once in a while.

The aero is horrible and I seriously doubt the canards behind the wheel are doing anything short of creating massive turbulent air and drag (they go straight into a body panel that is essentially a wall right behind them). The idea they are creating downforce is a testament to why people like Adrian Newey get paid so well and the rest of us just slap bits on and say "Look downforce."

Definitely gets your attention, but not my style at all. To each his own.

36

I've met these guys and have seen the car in person. They put a lot of hard work into the car and the thing is an absolute beast. I met Daniel and asked about the aerodynamics of the car. He's quite friendly and was more than willing to explain the various portions of the car, like how certain parts were adjusted for better performance etc. Honestly, it's great to see them on SH. Hope to see another article on them whatever and whenever their next project is complete.

37

Fair enough, I'm not trying to insult the guy by any means. Without wind tunnel testing and on track development it's easy to just say "look it works." As for the canards behind the wheel it's curious why you don't see those in other forms of racing where designers have millions of dollars. Perhaps he's discovered something that after 30 years some of the best aerodynamicists on the planet have failed to.

38

No worries. I know they do a lot of CAD work which can get some of the simulation down, but I don't know if they have access to a wind tunnel, though I can ask them.

As for the canard behind the wheel, as far as I've known, it's not really anything too new at least in terms of concept. I've noticed race cars have used them before (specially DTM), but the thing is, the wing is usually enclosed in bodywork, which usually makes the tail look a bit bulky.

Come to think of it, I've seen some on Time Attack cars (Youtube, Tsukuba Hot Laps), though in their case they are usually exposed a bit more, as they don't always have the indent in the body work like this.

I can ask them about it when I get a chance.

39

Furthermore if you look at the shaped angle of the canards behind the wheel it almost bends 90 degrees so the air is just hitting a wall on the canard itself. Lift to drag ratio has a huge impact on performance and a lot of "aero" out there is creating more drag than actual downforce. Air doesn't like to make sharp bends. IMO I don't think this car is producing any real significant downforce, but as I said I'm not an expert.

40

I'd like to know more about the logic behind if. Air tends to follow the curvature of bodywork until it separates. My understanding is that this is called attached flow and there is something called a boundary layer.

What I'm curious about is the fact that they mounted a "wall" of body work right behind it. Do you see what I mean? So normally where those canards will create vortices that catch the door and flow down the side of the car the design on this car hits that wall which would make the air very turbulent.

I've sent some of the pictures to friends who used to design F1 cars for Mclaren and Ferrari to get their thoughts. Remember too that just because something is good in CAD doesn't mean it's actually going to be good on the race track. Ride height sensitivity with relation to underbody tunnels is a great example of this. High downforce can become subject to ride height sensitivity that makes tuning a car a nightmare. It's all about balance and the drivers ability to access the performance not only from a skill stand point. but a tuning stand point.

41

You make some good points here, but access to a wind tunnel isn't very relevant. I doubt there are the resources/space for smaller shops to be so lucky in Japan. You can accomplish much of what you need in CFD, whereas a windtunnel is less dynamic anyway. Unless you have a rolling road, and even then it's really most useful for Nascar type disciplines.

However, like you say, on track tuning is more important. I know they did a lot of that, so that's one box you can check off.

Besides, I don't think the goal was the create the most massive amount of downforce possible (doesn't even have a wing). As for the canards behind the rear wheels, I would think they're better at removing heat and turbulent air from the front wheel wells than anything else.

F1 aero designers are unlikely to be impressed, I don't think that was the goal here haha.

42

Fair points Trevor. I've heard some interesting stories in the past about things looking good on CFD, but being absolute flops at the track due to pitch sensitivity etc. This was on derestricted underbody designs. Hey if it works it works. I've just never seen it so I was curious.

One thing to consider with the car not having a rear wing is center of pressure. Perhaps the CoP is in the right place for the handling they desire. It certainly makes a good amount of power either way. Removing heat isn't something I thought about so that's a good point.

Aerodynamics are probably the most complicated subject of anything in the sports car world IMO. I do like the craziness of this build and was just nit picking a bit. Would like to hear an explanation from the person who designed it!

43

Oh for sure, CFD can get you in the ballpark but the real world is much different. I won't claim to know much about aero unfortunately.

But like I said, I don't think maximizing downforce was the ultimate goal here. Talking with the designers would be your best bet. All I know is it's certainly improved over stock, and some amount quicker around a track than without the kit ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

44

Doesn't seem that way. 700hp is a lot to punch through the air, but there's always a balance between (negative) lift and drag. Who designed the kit? I'd like to send them an email.

45

It's like a Transformer halfway through transforming.

46

Very nice!

47

すっげーカッコイイ!
これからもどんどん新しいスタイルを生み出してください!

48

Well, I'd say that's the craziest rotary-powered FD I've seen (online, at least) all year.

50

最高〜\(^^)/
めっちゃカッコイイ!!

53

KRC RX-7 is my favorite Car! Very Cool!!!
I am looking forward to KRC's car custom

54

Very Cool KRC RX-7

55

KRC design is SO new That's why some people are not understand about how much cool that RX7.

Absolutely The car is already WORLD FAMOUS!!

56

Would have been better to add a square panel to deflect air over the front doors instead of those canards behind the front guards.

57

While I appreciate brutal functionality of the body kit, that FD has certainly lost it's beauty

58

KRC絶影かっこよすぎてやばいー
早く見たい

59

who needs an air filter on your turbo anyway

60

"While the aesthetics of the machine have been completely redesigned, it’s done so in a way that keeps the soul of the 1995 FD3S intact."

You mean by destroying the original bodylines and being completely at odds with Mazda's design language?

61

This has to be the first modified RX7 I just can't understand. Mind you, it's not like I don't enjoy extreme builds: I do like the Veilside Fortune bodykit on the RX7 and I adore the Sexy Knights FD3S, mostly because of the wild rear aero. This one is beyond ugly, it just looks butchered without a point and with no regards to the original lines. Seems to me like a case of "Let's be different just for the sake of it" and that's one pathetic way of thinking.

Still, kudos for that Fujita Engineering engine.

62

Am I the only one that was like, "that looks like TVR started making body kits." I think it's just the combination of the extended front bumper with lights but the original lights retained that I mostly don't like. Having both just throws off the lines and makes a busy front end even busier. Looking past that, I kinda dig the crazy hood and love the front fenders. Kinda out there but I guess that's part of what makes it cool.

63

I dunno, I'd like to see it with an insane gt wing on it cause it feels a little out of balance. Mad respect to the builders though :]

64

I personally think that FD3S was very most beautiful car creation to come from Japan (Aside of extraterrestrial Furai) and for that I'm more of a purist for the looks rather than power plant. But I'm not really a purist and like things to be changed sometimes. Hense I'd like to see what FD can Look like if made in 2010's (read ND miata-esque front end design), but still keeping the lines. I mean I like bodykits to interact with bodylines rather than destroy them (I love RE-Amemiya and hate Veilside to the core). So this car is balancing in-between love and hate. That Yellow FD Hummer is more pleasing to my eyes having same kit but cleaner paint work and proper non-SUV ride height. But I appreciate the effort they put into that thingy.

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