With the interior project turning out to be far more over extending than initially anticipated, bringing it all to a closure was ironically anticlimactic. The feeling of relief was a welcomed luxury, but I was able to quickly move on from it. And by moving on, I mean taking a step out of the car game for a long overdue vacation.
Since I first got my license almost 10 years ago, cars have stayed on my mind. In one way or another, I was able to consistently work and tinker with them throughout the years. It is now time to enjoy a moment of silence from this consuming “hobby”. Additionally, I have had little time or reason to even drive the car recently. In the past 5 weeks, I have only driven the car out maybe 2 or so times.
I will continue to plan for the RX-7 behind the scenes, but simply put, I’m probably running out of stamina to continue working on it endlessly. After NOT wrenching or spending money on a car for some time, it really gave me perspective of how much more freedom I have. The RX-7 is at a satisfactory state, so I will pick it up again in the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, you can find me more actively posting on the 7TUNED.com forums.
I think I liked this video more than I probably should. I’m a sucker for cheesy, over the top 80′s cop films. If Kung Fury actually has a release, I hope they offer it in a LaserDisc format.
On a more serious note, movies like Hard Boiled, A Better Tomorrow, and The Killer are some of my all-time favorites.
On the side, I’m aiming to be productive by collecting parts for future endeavors. I’ve been keen on Full Race’s FD manifold for a long time now. I do not reckon that it is the most widespread manifold in the RX-7 community, as most people opt for offerings from Rotary specific shops. Like me, initially, with my current A-Spec Short Manifold.
I took my time and consulted the owner of Full Race, Geoff, directly for his insight. After comparing other options and taking into account what Geoff had inputted about his manifold’s design, I was convinced that it would be worthwhile to switch to Full Race.
The manifold arrived in a well packaged box.
I thought the serial numbered certificate of authenticity Full Race includes was a nice touch.
More importantly, the manifold itself was absolutely beautiful to behold. The A-Spec manifold I have is great quality, but if I’m honest, Full Race’s quality is at a higher cut.
They use robotic TIG welds to ensure excellent penetration and weld quality with no bleed-thru or “sugaring” of the weld on the inside seam. This puts less heat into the metal which equates to the metal having stronger integrity because its HAZ (heat affected zone) is reduced. Usually when welding by hand, the start/stop point of a bead is a potential weak point. Robotically welding essentially negates this weakness.
I’m also a fan of the exceptionally thick 8 Gauge stainless used in the manifold’s construction.
The flanges are thick and nicely finished with the inner bores cleaned.
Full Race includes high grade studs with inconel nuts and Nordlock washers.
One concern I had with the manifold was with its placement for the wastegates. It seems counter-intuitive to have the wastegate runners come out at 90* angles rather than follow the path of the exhaust gas. As it was later explained to me, such a design was purposefully done to give turbine priority. This will ultimately help with spool and response times. Since the manifold is designed specifically to be used with dual 44mm wastegates, the surface area of the wastegates will be so large that they do not require direct flow.
When I went to go check on the gauge cluster surround’s progress, the continuing trend thus far prevailed once again – it needed yet another repaint. The small paint inconsistencies from prior had been remedied, but this time there was a new problem. Since the panel had been repainted so many times, the old paint was hard to strip off and the layers had accumulated to the point of distorting the turn signal holes. The “arrows” were no longer a defined shape with so much paint.
Luckily, I had previously purchased a brand new cluster surround and hood from Mazda in the smooth, ’93 finish. I planned on using only the black hood in place of the painted hood to prevent glare. In a last ditch effort, I delivered the new cluster to the body shop and asked them to repaint that one instead. We were close to finalizing this ordeal so I pressured the body shop to focus on this last piece. The gamble paid off and a few days later, I finally had the last piece to the interior puzzle in my hands and in a satisfactory finish.
The painter originally mixed over 3 times the amount of paint needed for the base coat. Throughout this whole process, that paint was used to the last drop.
I reassembled the gauges and peripheral components on to the panel on my bed, for fear of damaging the paint in any way.
Bringing this whole interior project to a full circle, I topped everything off by installing my new steering wheel assembly: a Works Bell Short Boss hub to a Rothsport Quick Release (had this thing collecting dust on my desk since August…) to a Sparco Ring steering wheel.
Changing the steering wheel was one of the inciting desires that gave impetus to the interior project. As nice as the rewrapped ’99 Nardi wheel was, it still felt too clumsy to steer with. Plus, although slightly smaller than the stock wheel, it would touch my thighs when driving occasionally. The 330mm D-shaped Sparco wheel addresses all these issues fantastically, I love the rawer driving experience it offers.
With the interior now looking like an actual interior, I can step back a little and take a breath of relief.
Today, I installed the climate control panel, shifter surround, and the stereo. Shoving the double DIN Pioneer into the slot was tricky because the wires in the dash had to be parted away in order for it to fit flush.
For one reason or another, the shifter surround seems to clip in better than before and sits flusher with the console. And on the flip side, the OEM armrest ashtray now doesn’t fit properly. Its fitment was never perfect, since the armrest is a RHD only part so the contours were slightly mismatched, but now it’s so off that the driver side edge will not even seat. Strange, because all I did was have the panels repainted and then reinstalled all the components onto them. Either way, I will be going back to the regular USDM ashtray.
I’m still waiting on the gauge cluster surround… it had to be repainted a couple more times.
The Dash Project was essentially a segue into a comprehensive interior overhaul. Since I had to remove the majority of the trim whilst working on the dash, I decided to go one step further and strip down each of the individual trim pieces. I felt that the black plastics were getting bland and decided to spice things up by having them repainted.
Initially, the goal was to administer a subtle change: I wanted to replicate the Spirit-R trim panels, which were a charcoal grey color.
To my knowledge, the Spirit-Rs feature a “soft feeling” paint on their trim pieces. This lead me to discover the Alsa line of SoftTouch paint, which seemed perfect for this application. Repainting a few plastic pieces appeared to be a trivial task at first glance, but by the series of events to follow, this was one of the most grueling and lengthy exercises I’ve encountered. To provide perception, I first dropped off the pieces to a local body shop (who performed a small job on my old Miata prior) over 3 months ago…
I shared pictures of the Spirit R interior and explained my desired color, a matte, OEM-like charcoal grey. A kit of the Alsa SoftTouch was then ordered. In the process of shooting, the SoftTouch paint wasn’t mixed properly and a few of the pieces would not dry properly. This meant a special paint remover, one that works with plastics, had to be ordered to strip everything down again for another reshoot. Almost 4 weeks later, they were finally ready for pick up.
Immediately upon my arrival to the body shop, I saw that the grey color was too light of a shade. I ended up paying for the job twice in order to redo them, and I also had to buy another kit of the SoftTouch paint (over $200 for just materials) because the first kit was expended. Fast forward to another 3 weeks of waiting for the SoftTouch to arrive, stripping the paint off again, and reshooting… the color ends up being too dark this time. At this point, I just took all the panels back home so I could have time and space to think about the next move.
I knew I still wasn’t happy with the results, even though so much time had been lost. I looked into other options, wrapping the pieces in vinyl came up as an idea. In the end, I opted for another repaint – with the exception of ditching the Alsa paint. I was going to stick to normal paint in a smooth, glossy, 2-stage finish. I also took the pieces to a different body shop this time around.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll keep this next section brief. From having the paint react poorly with the Alsa undercoat to me being unhappy with bumps and non-smooth areas, these pieces were reshot 4-5 times each at body shop #2. Although I required the work to be expedited, given the circumstances, this took another 3 weeks to complete.
Now I finally have the pieces back in my possession and to my satisfaction. With the exception of the gauge cluster surround – I still discovered minor blemishes in its finish and they are repainting it once more. Ultimately, the color I chose to go with was a nice, metallic grey. Porsche “Meteor Grey”, to be exact. I think it looks stunning and the contrast it provides against the black interior helps to elevate the plastics’ perceived quality.
Fingers crossed that once I am able to get the gauge surround back, I can finally button up the interior and just start driving.
While the progress on my RX-7′s interior project is approaching its finale, yet at a creeping pace, I’ve turned my attention into other areas. For one, the weather has been strangely cold during the past couple of weeks. Going into my garage feels like I’ve stepped into a refrigerator. Needless to say, I wasn’t privy to turning wrenches in numbing temperatures.
Breaking away indoors has allowed me to work on a new idea that I’ve recently become enamored about – and that is a new website. Before I got into cars and before I could even drive, my childhood hobby was playing with Photoshop and creating websites. I still fondly remember my days in Junior High when I read books on HTML and CSS. I used to pump out websites serially, they were all mostly nonsense, of course, but offered valuable practice. And now I’ve come to a realization that Grand Mighty had become my sole domain and my rate of experimenting with new websites had come to a standstill. I think now is a good time to give something else a go.
All the countless forums and random websites I made in the past were mostly vague and general, with no specific topic. If you recall, the Grand Mighty Forums didn’t exactly bloom. And a product of no purpose typically dissolves.
Now I’m actually, finally, attempting a website aimed at a niche… and that is RX-7′s! While there are quite a few large RX-7 related forums out there, they all seem unattached and cumbersome. I’ve noticed that the community aspect on RX7Club, for example, is quite segregated and remote. This is partially the reason why I seldom post there, aside from classified ads and other necessities. My goal is to bring in a new flavor to the RX-7 community, one that is smaller scale but emphasizes quality. I think the key to a worthwhile enthusiast community is that it should remain with the enthusiasts, for the enthusiasts. Many of these large automotive boards are owned and operated by Internet Brands, a corporation that inherently prioritizes making profits. It’s also funny to note how outdated (forum software wise) and bland the boards are.
So with that, I bring to you 7TUNED.com!
Although it is RX-7 and Rotary car specific, I implore you to give it a try regardless, especially if you have any interest in these cars at all.
The next goal is to add on a Wiki / Knowledgebase section where FAQs and Guides will be listed. There are a lot of useful information on these cars scattered around the Internet, it should be beneficial to funnel them into a more centralized and easily readable hub.
No real developments yet, I’m still waiting on my interior panels to be completed. I was eager to finally have them back before the Thanksgiving break, but a few more issues were discovered and they weren’t ready. So instead, I was granted a few days off where I paid little attention to the car.
The only thing I did was torque down all the lug nuts and then posed my dog for this picture.
For the first time in 3 months, I returned the car back to the ground today. While I’m lucky to be in California where a “real” Winter does not exist, I still want to drive the car before the rain starts. The plan was to lower the car off the jack stands last weekend, except I had to buy another set of non-REVO Project Kics R40 lug nuts to clear the front ARP studs. This is probably my 4th or 5th set of these Project Kics…
With the Advans, wheel changes are going to be a lot more tedious now. The lug holes on these wheels are super deep into the face, and there’s minimal room to navigate with a socket. A quick slip-up will easily scratch the wheel’s paint. By design of the RS/RZ, the spokes are slightly protruding outward near the rim, which is going to be an area of high debris susceptibility. I’m going to have to get the dark gunmetal paint color-matched and keep a small touch-up bottle.
Other than that, the wheels have definitely affirmed my allegiance to 18″ sizes. While 17″ wheels can look great, after trying out both, I think 18″ wins in its overall presence.
Fingers crossed I can finally get my trim panels back soon and button up the interior. This chapter of the car’s build is becoming quite elongated. Then, as you may be able to guess from the picture, a well deserved wash will be in order.
If the lack of recent updates didn’t already betray it – progress has been slow. Delays seem all too normal and wait times continue to grow. After about a month at the body shop, I was able to pick up my new front bumper. And by new, I mean a used pre-’99 bumper I was able to find from a local RX-7 buddy. He had the bumper sitting in storage for years and was kind enough to give me it for FREE! On top of that, the bumper was actually in great shape. Typically, the plastics melt and deform from heat and sun exposure over the years. The top portion will become wavy, with darker colored cars being more prone to this. It’s hard to find a used bumper in the condition I was looking for across the country… yet I was able to grab this one a few miles from my house at no cost. Sometimes, things just work out.
The reason why the bumper took so long to get painted was because it had to be redone twice. I was explicit on getting a couple minor dips removed, since any imperfection will be visible to plain sight when painted black. I suspect that I am in the minority – having opted to go back to the older bumpers. Going through 2 ’99 bumpers has made me weary of them. They look sharp from certain angles but odd and bulky from others. With their narrower profile, the pre-’99 bumpers maintain a higher level of sleekness and look better without a plate, in my opinion.
Figuring out the front bumper for this car has been quite the ordeal. My primary concern was the fitment and lack of structural deformities, like the curled edge from the ’99s. Thankfully, this pre-’99 bumper has a better overall fit and finish. I may raise the hood latch up slightly in the future to tighten the gap in the front.
I screwed up mounting the front emblem because the double-sided tape wasn’t trimmed perfectly clean. It was already too late because the emblem had been stuck on and the tape bonded. This caused me to spend 2 extra hours carefully removing the emblem and scraping off all the tape residue. The task was particularly stressful because the bumper had fresh paint.
I purposefully chose the regular R-package front lip to stick with the “stock body” theme. The other idea was to leverage the RX-7′s more retro appeal. With the bumper installed, I planned on installing the wheels and lowering the car back onto the ground. Unfortunately, since I am no longer running a 5mm spacer at the front with the Advans, the extended ARP studs hit the top of my Project Kics REVO lug nuts. This means I will have to buy another set of Project Kics lug nuts in open-ended form to mount the front wheels… awesome. I’m sure you can see how this stuff can get expensive, fast.