Damn That Guy’s Fast: Angry Earl’s FD3S RX-7
The Garage

It’s pretty obvious that this is a car that had to be featured. Earl Buenavente has been drifting Mazdas for the better part of two decades and in the last few years he seems to have created his masterpiece.

The inspiration for the car is immediately recognizable; if any of you haven’t come across Dominic Toretto’s FD3S Mazda RX-7 from the Fast and Furious franchise, you should probably reconsider your life choices.

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Before we even get into the car, please take a few moments to just look at it. It really is a car that needs some time to be properly taken in.

I love the FD chassis as it is, but this thing just blows my mind — it has an unequaled aura. Knowing that Earl continues to push the car to the limit at drift events is just the icing on the cake.

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Somehow, the timing never worked out for me to actually see the car in action (yet), but my good friend Steve McDermott kindly provided some photos of Earl smoking tires and getting sideways at Sonoma Raceway.

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And before we get into any details of the car, you have to understand the owner and where he’s coming from. Simply put, Earl is a guy who loves his cars.

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Seriously, he seriously loves them. He earned the nickname ‘Angry Earl’ at a party back in the day when a guy was leaning on his old FC. After a reasonable, likely enthusiastic, warning from Earl to kindly not lean on the car, the gent in question proceeded to literally kick the wheels and explain how Earl was overreacting. I’m not exactly sure what happened next – I wasn’t there – but I think we can surmise the general outcome.

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In contrast, the day I met him was the day we shot his RX-7 for this story, and I’d have to say he was more like ‘Happy Earl’ or maybe ‘Super Enthusiastic Earl.’ But how could you not be when you’re behind the wheel of his TRTT-0 FD3S?

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At any rate, Earl’s passion is clear in both his driving and his collection which currently includes the 1993 RX-7 in question, another FD project chassis, and an FC3C RX-7 convertible that’s been built to meet Sonoma Drift tandem spec. Oh, and his daily driver is a Mazda wagon.

Earl said he’s always gravitated towards the RX-7, and pointed out that that both Playboy and MotorTrend awarded the chassis their Car of The Year titles in 1993.

When pressing Earl on the ins and outs of the FC versus the FD at the track, he dove into a lot of technical jargon about MacPherson struts and multi-link suspension (FC) versus independent double wishbone suspension (FD) and other differences in design. He says a lot of things are the same between the two, but ultimately any FC is going to be way cheaper and simpler to build.

He describes the FD3S the same way as others might describe a beautiful woman — clearly this is a guy who doesn’t muck about when it comes to Mazdas.

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This becomes even more clear when you step into his epic garage.

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Spare parts tidily line the garage alongside an extra set of the VeilSide wheels and a bunch of tools. Spanning nearly an entire wall is a huge ‘Comrades’ banner.

Earl is originally from Washington State, where he began to get into drifting nearly two decades ago. Comrades is an old crew of guys that made up all of the drift teams in the Pacific Northwest back in the day. These were the guys drifting in the early 2000s, before drifting got big here.

Earl’s made plenty of other friends over the years, too, a fact that’s clearly evidenced by the very small amount of available real estate on the back of the car. Still, we managed to find a home for one more sticker.

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Another important sticker, along with a special signature, rides along on the driver’s B pillar. Naoki Nakamura of Team Burst actually signed the car when he came stateside last year, and it’s a cool little addition.

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After chatting it up a bit, we were ready to roll out to shoot the car.

The Guts
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Look at that handsome devil peeking out at me. How could you resist it?

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I think the answer is that you can’t. I don’t know if a car has ever excited me this much.

Earl explains that compared to his FC3C the FD3S is not nearly as durable; this has to do with the engineers compromising on the structural integrity of the later chassis to make the car as lightweight as possible. He says legend has it that this school of thought was heavily influenced by the lightweight, long-range WWII Japanese Zero Fighter planes, which just makes the car that much more badass.

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It’s no surprise that the Mazda gets plenty of attention at the track, too. While it’s a bit patched up here and there from years of aggressive driving, it still looks phenomenal, especially at speed.

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Again, just look at it. Built to make the doors open up like the diva it is, it’s a truly insane Mazda.

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I know I already seem to have a reputation for featuring V8-swapped RX-7s (I got fairly torn up in the comments here and here), but fear not purists…

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Earl is a Mazda guy, after all.

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Thus, the proper 13B-REW can be found at the front of the car. This unit was assembled by Roarks Motorsports and tuned by GarageLife for 350whp at 8,300rpm. The rotary powerplant makes use of titanium valve springs so as not to implode under high-revving abuse.

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From the GReddy intake to the T88 ball-bearing turbo, this engine bay is actually quite nice to look at.

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Exhaust is sent back through an extraordinarily loud (absent) exhaust, and forced out a massive six-inch tip.

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While it was all opened up, Gundam-style, I figured I’d better take a look inside, too.

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I have to say, I was a bit surprised here. Most of the interior is actually still in place and has been modified in a rather simplistic way.

Besides the checkerboard carpet, a proper Momo wheel is the most striking change from the driver’s point of view.

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Seeing as how the car is driven in fury, at times on full track layouts, all of the safety bits have to meet strict tech inspections. I’m not sure if ‘shiny’ is a criteria or not, but it seems to be in Earl’s book.

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Not just ‘shiny’ but ‘sparkly’ too. And for that, I’m thankful; this was just such a fun car to shoot.

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While we’re on the subject of being thankful, I’m quite pleased Earl went with those massively dished VeilSide Andrew Racing Type F wheels, which not only match the Toretto FD but are just perfect for the car in every way.

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At 18×10-inch +0 in the front and 18×12-inch -20 in the back for street driving, with 10-inch wide spares for drifting, it’s an absolutely perfect setup. Ride height is achieved with Fortune Auto 500 Series coilovers that are custom valved.

You can’t really see the brakes through those spoked wheels, and when I inquired, all Earl had to say about them was that they “sometimes work.” Perfect.

The Glory
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I appreciate all of the builds that I’m fortunate enough to shoot, but this is a car that I so badly want after spending some time with it.

I imagine that Earl won’t find it in him to part with this piece of machinery for a long, long time, though. And somehow, as awesome as it is, it just wouldn’t feel right to hop in and drive it myself.

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Earl is the one who has been laboring away for the last 15 years to learn the ins and outs of Mazdas, explaining that after 10 years of FC ownership you “receive your doctorate in the form of an FD.”

This is a car that, in its current form, very select few have ever even been for a ride in at the track. This car is the product of countless hours of hard work (“Someone put the wrench time in…”), and as such it’s a car for Earl alone to enjoy. It’s his happy place, or whatever you want to call it.

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Not only is it loved by its owner, but just about everyone that comes across it. The RX-7 just looks so good both on the track and off.

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There’s just something about that big butt that really gets to me, you know? With the body kit and that Toretto livery, the presence of the car is unmatched by just about anything.

We hung out a lot longer than anticipated, and I learned more about the RX-7 chassis from Earl in one day than I have anywhere else in the last decade combined. When asking what his favorite thing about the car is, the answer was simply “fire.”

If you watch the above video to the end, this response about fire makes more sense. Other than the clip at the track, Earl put this together using only his phone and a clever homemade tripod while I shot the car and sent it to me before I made it back home for the night.

When I asked what his future plans were, he literally said: “I’ve considered going legit in the NIRA circuit, if you’ve heard of it.” He then admitted he’s just going to stick with grassroots drifting and enjoy his place as an “eternal hotboi.”

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Earl is one of those guys who could carry on endlessly about these cars, their history, why he loves them, and so on if provoked enough. There wasn’t a question I asked that he didn’t have an immediate answer for.

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While the FD3S seems to be approaching semi-retirement with the FC3C getting more and more track time as the go-to drift car, that doesn’t mean Earl can’t still get behind the wheel and appreciate his creation in a more relaxed manner.

For this RX-7, these will surely be the golden years. All thanks to Angry Earl.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto
TYRphoto.com

Additional Photos by Steve McDermott

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55 comments

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1

Titanium valve springs hahaha

2
JbfromSiliconValley

Does it have forged rods?

3
JBfromSiliconValley

Nevermind...whoops. I should read jokes.↑

Maybe I need a double cheese from Fatburger.

4

Don't forget about four core intercoolers and direct port nitrous injection.

5

Everyone knows it's the secret to a proper rotary setup.

6

What you really need is a motec system exhaust.

7

Wow, love it!
I haven't seen those wheels for a long time now.
Hopefully there will be no rotary tears shed today since there's no LS engine in that engine bay. :0)

8

This is exactly how I imagine Hert's car will look like

9

Never heard of her.

10

good to see its still got its brapps

11

" I’m not exactly sure what happened next – I wasn’t there – but I think we can surmise the general outcome."

First thing that comes to mind...

SHORYUKEN!

12

Holy hell a 6 inch exhaust tip? Just when I thought 4 was big, 6 seemed excessive lol.

And it looks like a street drift car? Sad to see the radio seems to be ripped out last minute or something.

13

He doesn't drift on the street but it's plated so he can cruise it around. Earl mostly drifts at Sonoma Raceway, but he hits up other events around California too.

14

I have always been a sucker for those wheels....mmmm...delish.

15

After reading this all i have to say is two words. Hell. Yes!!!

16

This article is a master class in trolling.

17

Thank you, sir.

18
The Stig's Cousin

Needs to spool up the that turbo with nos under the passenger seat.

19

All about the Sneaky Pete’s

20

is that a bad joke or is he an idiot?

21

I'll have the tuna. No crust.

22

Psh, Toretto's was way lighter with the weight saving audio gear in the back.
This guy'll just blow himself to pieces. I've seen the way he drives.

23

is that a MoTeC Systems exhaust I spy there?

24
Richard Clayderman

I like this "Angry Earl" very much.

25

Same ;)

26
Brian E. Spilner

Slightly disappointed that there's no NOS under the passenger seat, but super stoked he built it this way nonetheless!

27
Hector w/ the Spoon engined Civic

Typical white boy comment.

28

Titanium valve springs makes no sense at all (how does it even get written when talking specifically about a rotary?). And I thought Greddy T88 and T78 branded turbos we’re thrust bearing not ball bearing.
Car looks good but clearly they don’t understand much about it. Posers.

29

We're not on your block any more. You better watch who you talk to like that...

But seriously, I did space the reference out too much so I'm sorry about that. It does not have titanium valve springs, and for this application (drift/street) you probably wouldn't want them anyway.

30

What are you talking about. You don’t use titanium anything in a rotary. And thinking about that “ball bearing” T88 further, seems pretty stupid turbo choice for a low horsepower build. My T78 made 450 and was laggy, T88 would be even worse. When you cover a rotary, why don’t you put the time in to actually know what you are talking about. Or just stick to taking pictures. Fake News

31
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32

Too soon Junior! Haha never meant to make you angry, so I'll lay it out for ya:

https://youtu.be/0116mkt7-Mo?t=1m9s

As for the turbo, that was another FF reference and don't worry, he does run a smaller one. Sometimes there's more to a car than a mod list, and sometimes I like to live life on the edge ;)

33

LOL guys we´ve all the same Passion just other priorities. It´s still a beautiful RX-7 and it do exactly the Job what they builder want. For me it´s a bit to shiny but ....blablabla i want the key to this beast ^^

34

NIRA circuit. lmfao. good shit Earl!

35
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

If this guy ever joins Formula Drift, his car would probably be the most stylish on the grid!

36

There would be a lot more stylish cars in FD if being low worked to the standards

37

The first time i'm happy to know that a car will be retired to be driven in a "normal" manner.
I was shocked to know it's been used on track specially that he has a lot of other cars to do the job. The car is perfect, the color gives it that extra credit.

38

Hello everyone. Is it the first time that I comment and I need to ask why the latest wallpapers that I download from the speedhunters have worse quality than the previous ones on my desktop? Love all your pics. The best photographers. Thanks

39

Make sure you're viewing in the fullscreen mode when you save them; many of the shots are best viewed this way anyhow.

40

Missed it at winter jam . I like it like corn flakes

41

A little flashy for my tastes, but I love the movie and i LOVE the rotary. Properly thorough build too, nice feature!

42
Trevor's Third Grade Teacher

Its jargon, not gargon, as in"technical jargon."

Detention!!!! How horrible!!! You're never going to make it in life, son.

43

Third grade was hard for me.

44

"The rotary powerplant makes use of titanium valve springs so as not to implode under high-revving abuse."

Sorry.....but what valve springs are needed? What valves???

46

Is it possible that you've met up with the younger age of the SH demographic who have not seen the first F&F?

47

Definitely possible ;)

48

Wait.. valve springs?? Lol

49

Beautiful stuff, I totally love the sparkle! But can this thing stand up against THREE Spoon engines?

50

You’re all so pre-occupied with the jokes in the story that you haven’t realised Hector is going to be running 3 Honda Civics with Spoon engines, and he just went into Harry’s and ordered 3x T66 Turbo’s, with NoS!

51

This article was amazing. The comments are just as RAD. I for sure can tell how old each commenter is by their replies. Haha. As a F&F fan, I love everything about this car! Great work. Great article. #trollface

52
Brennan McKissick

I came here for the comments. Was not disappointed.

53

Angry Earl loves....GLITTEEERRR!!!

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54

Thank god its a rotory

55

What would have happened if it wasn't..? ;)

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