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PANDEM FC RX-7: DEADLY SINS

Posted by Matt Bell on 17th February 2021

When GReddy Performance Products put together a show car, they don’t mess about. Pride, lust, envy, this Pandem FC RX-7 has got the lot…

Feature first appeared in Fast Car Japanese. Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Larry Chen

Count up your deadly sins, boys and girls, you’ll find them all coursing through the injectors and oilways of this firebrand RX-7. Lust? Well, that’s a gimme. Don’t pretend your brain is the only organ that’s suddenly on high alert. You can’t process the primal emotions you’re feeling, but that’s totally okay. Envy? Of course, how could you not feel painfully, gut-wrenchingly envious that such a car exists and it belongs to somebody else? Fate is a cruel, cruel mistress. Greed? Sure, that goes hand-in-hand with gluttony, the quest for more, more, more is what’s led to all this horsepower, all this girth, everything bigger than everything else. Pride is an inevitable consequence too, the sheer visceral spectacularity that we’re part of a species that’s able to achieve such awe-inspiring creativity. Does sloth fit into the picture? Weirdly, yes – see, this car isn’t just about hardcore canyon running; it’s such a savage looker that when the mood comes to laze around and achieve nothing, it looks damn good doing so. Oh, and wrath. All the wrath, that’s what this car is essentially made of – an uncompromising, flame-spitting distillation of all mankind’s anger, refracted through a Japanese prism and catapulted into North America to stalk the streets in search of fresh prey.

All of this extravagant sinning feels particularly naughty when we consider that an FC RX-7 is the base. After all, aside from the fact that it runs a Wankel rotary engine (and heaven knows these things can bite you if you don’t look after them), it’s always been – on paper, at least – a fundamentally sensible sort of car. Well, that was the case at the outset, anyway. The second-generation RX-7, designated ‘FC’, was a big seller in Japan due to the country’s stringent taxation system; cars with engines displacing under 1,500cc were significantly cheaper to tax, and the RX-7 crept well under the bar with its 1.3-litre displacement. The truth of it is that describing it in such terms is a nonsense, obviously – rotary engines and traditional piston engines aren’t directly comparable in that way, their technical function is so different. But rules are rules. Anyway, while the original RX-7, the FB, was a pure sports car, the FC was more of a grand tourer, softened up to tap into the lucrative global GT market – which allowed it to clean up in the USA too. It was light years ahead of the model it replaced in terms of technology; the old recirculating ball steering was replaced with a rack-and-pinion setup, and the live axle was junked for an independent rear. It also had anti-dive/anti-squat suspension and passive rear-steer, and was even available as a convertible if that sort of thing flicks your switch. Conceptually-speaking, this is a sensible and grown-up machine. Naturally, however, you can’t really expect anything with a Wankel to be totally sensible, and Mazda knew this – that’s why, as well as a 150bhp nat-asp base model, they offered a 185bhp turbocharged version as well. This hedonistic hellraiser was amped up to the tune of 215bhp with the evolved Turbo II model, and it’s this very hedonism which the car you see here seeks further to exploit.

Yes, as you’ve no doubt deduced, this 1990 Turbo II is no ordinary 1990 Turbo II. In fact, this is a car which pulls together a number of big names to create something unparalleled in its awesomeness: built by GReddy Performance Products Inc. for TRA Kyoto boss-man Kei Miura, to be a SEMA showpiece. So you can imagine the quality that was demanded right from the start.

As GReddy chief Kenji Sumino explains, the idea from the off was to build a car for the event to showcase the latest Pandem wide-body creation. “Mr Miura had the kit designed before he even had the car,” he recalls. “The original idea was that after SEMA he would take this RX-7 back to Japan, although he then decided to build another one for Tokyo Auto Salon, so he told us to keep this one.”

Not a bad situation to find themselves in, as this really is a stellar build. Every inch of it is flawless, and this is no easy thing to achieve when you’re talking about building a project car using a platform of this age. Kenji and his team scoured the classifieds across North America to find a suitable starting point, asking many searching questions of owners until eventually a guy by the name of Massi Tawakali in Northern California presented the ideal candidate – and even offered to trailer the FC RX-7 to GReddy HQ in Irvine too!

“We were keen to go with a period-correct theme,” Kenji says. “Fortunately the chassis was very clean, and we wanted to make sure everything under the hood was clean as well, but with proper performance upgrades to represent GReddy since it was all built here at GPP. Interestingly the RX-7 already had one of our old GReddy turbo kits on it.” Strong provenance then, but of course all of this was ripe for fresh upgrades if the car was to become a SEMA star. So the engine was pulled out, and the mechanical rejuvenation began in earnest. “As we don’t work on rotary engines much, we had to bring in a few experts,” he continues. “Nate Tasukon helped us sort the wiring harness, which was in a very bad way, and Ben Schwartz took all the original engine parts, such as the corroded intake manifold and throttle body, and restored them to look brand new.” The cast GReddy turbo manifold that was already on the car was refurbished and ceramic-coated, and this really suits the period-correct ethos as it’s a discontinued item that was cast twenty-five years ago! To this was added a GReddy TD06H-25G turbo, working with a Type 24 intercooler and cast aluminium compression tube; with a full custom 76mm exhaust system and an uprated fuelling system featuring a billet fuel rail with RC injectors, a piggyback ECU corrals all of the digits to a robust 356bhp. And that’s more than enough to keep things entertaining in a car that weighs little more than a tonne…

So the oily bits are pretty hilarious, but this Mazda’s key impact comes from its imposing aesthetic. It just looks so damn mean, doesn’t it? The Pandem widebody aero kit comprises the full set of beefy overfenders, the ducktail wing, front bumper, sideskirts, door extensions and, perhaps the coolest part of all, those rally-style quad driving lights. UK readers may be interested to note that the full kit is actually available over here via Torqen. Looks pretty spectacular in that crisp shade of white too, doesn’t it? Funnily enough, Kenji’s original plan was to finish the RX-7 in a sort of old-school Mazda Racing style, with a livery painted in purple, yellow and white – and even tested out a few renders on the GReddy social channels, to widespread adulation. “However, when we showed Mr Miura the car once the kit was fitted, he suggested we keep it all white, and I think that was definitely the right call,” he says. “This was, after all, the car’s original colour… although the paint wasn’t in great shape, it was peeling away, so we still had to strip the car right down to a bare shell and paint it inside and out.”

It was absolutely the right choice, and it works just as well on the interior as the outside. The freshly painted innards have been treated to a new custom rollcage along with a set of carbon Pandem bucket seats and assorted other race-inspired accoutrements, and it looks every inch the period race car. This vibe really resonates in profile too, with the brutal ducktail neatly complemented by those aggressively wide TRA Kyoto 6666 wheels. The thing’s just begging to be spanked around Laguna Seca or Willow Springs, kicking up dust and making a nuisance of itself. And of course it was a massive hit at SEMA, just as it deserved to be – one of the most talked-about builds there, and winner of the Super Street SEMA Ultimate Award: Best of Show.

“We love building cars like this, keeping everything clean and really showcasing the GReddy performance upgrades,” Kenji grins. And he’s right to be proud of the creation, the whole team deserves to be. It’s a fabulous combination of show and go, a beautifully resolved and restomodded custom classic, representing every single one of those deadly sins: lust, pride, wrath, envy, Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, Beaky, Mick and Tich – they’re all bouncing around inside this street weapon.

Tech Spec: Pandem FC RX-7

Styling:

Full respray in white (inside and out), Pandem widebody kit inc. front bumper, quad driving lights, front and rear wide arches, rear ducktail wing, rear diffuser

Tuning:

13B rotary, GReddy TD06H-25G turbo, refurbished and ceramic-coated period GReddy turbo manifold, Greddy Type 24 intercooler, custom GReddy intercooler piping, GReddy cast aluminium compression tube, 76mm downpipe, 76mm stainless exhaust system with 115mm pie-cut titanium tail, Koyo aluminium radiator, aluminium radiator fan shroud, 19-row oil cooler, billet fuel rail with RC injectors, Aeromotive in-tank fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, piggyback ECU, five-speed manual transmission

Chassis:

9.5×17-inch (front) and 10.5×17-inch (rear) TRA Kyoto 6666 Mesh wheels – with gold faces and polished lips, 235/40 (f) and 255/40 (r) Toyo Proxes R1-R tyres, TRA Kyoto nuts, custom coilovers with KW Hydraulic Lift System, uprated brake discs with high-friction pads and Wilwood fluid

Interior:

Half-stripped with sound deadening removed, Pandem carbon fibre bucket seats on Planted brackets, 6-point harnesses, custom GPP four-point rollcage, GReddy turbo timer, polished gearknob, GPP leather steering wheel, custom aluminium foot panels, blue trim converted to black