I’m doing what I can to make measurable progress in a reasonable amount of time, but contrary to previous years, I’m not able to attack at a rapid and consistent rate. Nevertheless, I have been steadily chipping away at the puzzle.
Most of my activity thus far came from behind the scenes strategizing and planning, and not necessarily actual wrenching. I’ve found myself undertaking a project with a vast scope this time, with action items branching off into many different areas – all simultaneously. People who are dismissive about car work of this level are ignorant to the amount of investment and input required for success. Believe it or not, working on this RX-7 has pulled on the chains of numerous interdisciplinary skills. Core project management is utilized in order to keep all the pieces moving and coordinated towards the right direction. I’ve developed much of my sales abilities from selling and trading hundreds of parts over the years. My resourcefulness and researching prowess were critically tested when seeking out peculiar or discontinued goodies, all for an old and relatively rare car, where numbers are already limited to begin with.
The point I’m trying to drive is that some of us are in this game to operate and play at a more thorough and higher level, where everything becomes exponentially more difficult. It’s easy to devalue the work done and group it amongst the likings of teenagers who do basic bolt ons and call it a day, due to the inherent roots of “car modding”. I wish such ignorance is not so easily propagated, but I know it’s hard for an outsider to gain the necessary perspective. In my case, I am making the conscious decision to sacrifice and persevere to realize a final vision, with no shortcomings… to successfully create my take on the Epitome RX-7. I chose this off the beaten path with full clarity and conviction. This is undoubtedly the harder way, as I have essentially upgraded or touched every inch of the car in order to manifest the desired product. On the contrary, I could have used the money spent to buy a fancy car, not a Mazda, and saved a LOT of time. But that’s too easy, and easy is boring.
Enough with that defensive tangent. I’m not sure what came over me. Back on topic. First off, I said good bye to the short lived Advan GTs. I set a new personal record. After only a few months of ownership and going through the work of importing and mounting & balancing these wheels, I sold them.
They were my favorite set thus far and truly gave the RX-7 an elegant and refined look… but greater things loom on the horizon and I must keep my focus strong. I am no longer aiming for “good”, I want to reach for defining excellence.
While my door cards are at ESH Upholstering, I wanted to think of ways to make continued improvements to touch points. Since the outer door handles are being replaced in metal, I ordered a cast aluminum grip handle from Sake Bomb Garage to replace the factory plastic one, which is also known for snapping off. Makes sense since this handle is the only anchor for passengers to hold onto during overzealous ride alongs. The top portion of the handle is supposed to be finished in black, but I had it stripped so I could paint it myself.
After filling small pinholes in the casting with metal filler and then sanding, I laid down primer. The stairwell in my Condominium proved to be a useful painting area, if not a little makeshift. It’s well sealed with little airflow.
I then sanded down the primer and shot on coats of SEM Satin Black paint. I purposely masked lower onto the handle because the original grip cover will eventually be transferred on, and I didn’t want any chance of the raw aluminum leaking through.
With the handle painted, I shipped it off to ESH so they could have it ready when it comes time to reassemble the trim piece onto the passenger door card. On that note, I splurged and ended up having ESH reupholster the rear quarter trim panels in Alcantara as well.
Apparently due to the curves and shape of these panels, the material needs to start and finish in a specific direction in order to successfully wrap in one piece, with no segments. Good thing ESH specializes with RX-7s and has done this before.
Next, I received my door handles and trim pieces back from paint. Repainting everything was the only way to obtain a matching finish. Due to their high-traffic nature, a special epoxy based paint was used for added strength and durability. The black came out quite matte, but this is the only finish available in the epoxy paint. The goal is to later polish the paint and bring out more gloss, once the car is back on the road.
I reassembled the handle mechanism and used ample grease on all of the pivot points and joints.
And then reunited the handles with the doors.
The cleaning and lubrication really helped. Not only does the door opening feel more rugged due to the metal handles, the action is much smoother now. Putting it all back together and reinstalling took an entire afternoon, which was equivalent to one day’s worth of direct, physical work. And since I’ve only been working on the car one day a week, this was ultimately one week’s worth of work. Gradual is the word that comes to mind.
Lastly, I will be changing out my speakers again. The Morel Maximos sounded slightly muddy to me and I was never completely enthused about their performance. When I chose them, I purposely aimed lower on the spectrum because I am sticking to headunit power and factory speaker wiring. I regarded the Hybrid Audio setup I had in the Tacoma highly, so I consulted with my favorite Car Audio & Custom Trim Fabricator – Toby Broadfield. We settled on a set of Hybrid Audio Mirus speakers, which is technically slightly downgrading from the Maximos. With car audio and proper car tuning in general, the objective is not always to buy the biggest and most powerful. Choices should be made with discernment and being knowledgeable of harmonious balance.
I was on the right track already by picking the Maximos, and not buying higher end speakers that require 1000W of amplification pumped through them to sound good. In this case, I am switching them out to fine tune even further. In comparison, the Mirus speakers are 1.6 dB more efficient, and that translates to having 50% more usable power than the Maximos under the same power scenario. Previously, I obviated the rear speakers to simplify the sound stage with only the front door speakers. This time, I have decided to add back in the rears, so I will have 4 Mirus speakers all around.
Thankfully I saved the rear speaker brackets, which I dug out of storage. The original owner of the car installed a pair of Pioneers in the rear, evidently.