When written down on paper, this does sound a bit crazy: After all the work of sourcing, refinishing, and mounting the RegaMasters, I have decided it’s time for a change. What were once considered to be my dream set of wheels have now grown stale. The underlying reason behind my change of heart is that the RegaMasters simply looked too stock.
Most of what I’ve done so far, at least aesthetically, with this RX-7, I’ve done with the best intentions to preserve the stock look. I chose to err on the side of caution and play the conservative, mature card. All of that started to get boring, so it’s time to turn things up a notch. The RegaMasters looked great in their 17″ size and I was happy with the outcome, but again, they looked like wheels that could have come with the car from Mazda. While I don’t miss the XD9’s, I do miss the black-on-black look. I also wanted to go back to 18″ for the increased presence and appeal.
If I was going to retire the RegaMasters, it would have to be in favor of a setup that would be a worthy successor. After conducting my fair share of research and debating over what wheels truly compliment an RX-7, I ultimately pursued a set of wheels that I’ve always wanted… and by that, I mean since back in the days of my first RX-7. Finally, the time was ripe to bring to fruition a setup that had lingered in my mind for years – Dark Gunmetal Advan RS’s for the rear and RZ’s for the front. The mismatch is purposeful. To the untrained eye, both wheels will look indifferent at first glance. It’s this subtle dichotomy that adds an appreciable detail to the overall package of the car.
I called upon the same contact I used in Japan to buy me the RegaMasters for these Advans. They were out of stock from Mackin, the USA distributor, and ordering through a Stateside vendor typically takes months for delivery. I took a shortcut by asking my guy to buy these wheels directly from Advan Japan, and then DHL Air Mail them to me. Once they were shipped, they only took about 2-3 days to arrive at my doorstep!
Another reason why I chose to go with this Advan set is because the sizings available were PERFECT for the FD3S. And yes, staying true to form, I stuck with yet another 10″ wide, 255 squared setup. With each past iteration of wheels, I’ve adjusted the sizing incrementally. The rears on the XD9’s protruded too much for my tastes, and the fronts were too sunken in. I improved the fitment with the RegaMasters by bringing the rears in (they were +20 offset versus the XD9s’ +18). I also spaced the fronts to +35 effective. In summation, the RegaMasters sat 2mm inboard in the rear, and 3mm outboard in the front. However, to REALLY dial things in, I felt that the rears could still be more “flush” and the fronts could fill up the fenders slightly more.
Building upon all of this, I found the sizes Advan offered to be exactly what I needed this time around. The rears RS’s are 18×10″ +25 (5mm inboard versus the RegaMasters) and the front RZ’s are 18×10″ +35 (same effective). My tire choice is what ties everything together. 255/35/18 is a very good sizing for a stock body FD3S, and that’s what I stayed with… except in the form of beefier Toyo R888’s. I know better by now than to skimp on tires. Having proper rubbers will really spearhead a successful wheel package. Plus, I’ve always wanted to run R-Comps – treadwear and overkilling be damned.
Anyway, here’s a picture of the wheels laid flat to show their concavity. They are all the deeper, GTR faces.
And mounted with the R888’s:
There was no way I could resist holding out, I threw them on one side of the car as soon as I could. The anticipation when buying a new set of wheels and the expectant haste that follows is certainly interesting.
I forgot to take out the 5mm spacer in the front when I installed the wheels, so the front RZ is fitted more aggressively than it should.
Given my track record, I haven’t been the best at holding onto a set of wheels longer than a few months. I put maybe 200 miles on the XD9s, and only about 100 miles on the RegaMasters before moving on. Albeit, I have high confidence for this Advan set, so hopefully they will be the keeper!
While my pace with the car has certainly slowed down, it is by no means at a halt. There’s still plenty to do and I’ve been actively working in the background. Admittedly, I need to fall back into a rhythm with this website to keep the updates flowing.
Let’s start with a small part I had made recently, pre-Wekfest. After deleting the ABS, the rear brake proportioning valve was left suspended by the lines without any support. I could have attempted to make a bracket myself, but I wanted something higher-end than what I would be able to rig together. So, once again, I leveraged the engineering prowess of FFTEC and dropped the car off one Friday to have them handle it.
Having custom fabrication work done is never cheap, but it’s a worthy investment. FFTEC made me a nice, beefy aluminum bracket that almost resembles a billet piece. I was pleased with the product, however, the story would be too easy if it ended there. Due to the close vicinity of the brake booster, the proportioning valve had to be positioned further outboard. This put tension on one of its brake lines, and wasn’t entirely optimal. If the proportioning valve could be moved downwards, it would relieve the stress on the line and place it into a more neutral orientation. I made a few measurements and ordered a pair of SS 5mm spacers, a pack of SS M6 button-head bolts, and M6 flange nuts from McMaster-Carr.
Unfortunately, I still wasn’t quite satisfied with the 5mm spacing… so I tried again by reordering a pair of 10mm spacers and another pack of appropriate length bolts. For this iteration, I was under a time-crunch since Wekfest was around the corner. I had to pay Next-Day shipping twice because the spacers and bolts were shipped out of 2 different locations. My efforts proved to be in vain, because one of the packages was delivered to the wrong address by UPS. You can only smile and move on in situations like this.
Here’s the proportioning valve and bracket with the 10mm spacers. Excuse the dirty engine bay, the car just came back from having work done at the body shop (more on that later).
Today, I installed a stainless braided clutch line. For the third time. Back when I had the ACT clutch installed by PR Motorsports, I asked them to throw on a clutch line that I bought years ago for my first RX-7. It was convenient that I had found it in the garage, but I wish I never did. This line ended up being too short so one of the retaining brackets couldn’t be bolted to the chassis. Of course, having a less than ideal install with a floating, unsecured bracket lingered in my mind and bothered me.
Around the same time I had the proportioning valve bracket fabricated, I also dropped my car off to PR Motorsports to have them pluck the ABS computer from the rear hatch area. This was a rare instance where I willingly wanted someone else to work on the car. Dealing with fragile interior parts is a weakness of mine. I didn’t want to hassle with plastic clips and risk breaking tabs, so I simply paid a professional to take care of it for me… worry free. Anyway, I gave PR Motorsports another clutch line to swap out, one that I deliberately checked with a vendor to confirm that it was longer. This second try ended up being too long. While the retaining bracket could now be affixed without issue, the line itself was bent in an S-shape due to excess length.
Finally, I bought another line and installed it myself. And yes, this third line was the perfect length… thank God. Here’s a comparison of the 3 lines, proper length one is in the middle.
The theme of this post should provide insight on the trials and tribulations required when working on cars. It’s not an easy job, err… hobby? You just have to take it in stride, and do what needs to be done. An auto-pilot, no frills kind of life would end up too boring and meek, anyway.
It all started when I stumbled across a posting announcing the upcoming Wekfest. After further investigation, there was a call-out for owners to submit their cars into the show. On a whim, I decided to indulge and sent over a couple photos of my car for screening. I mainly did this out of curiosity, but one thing led to another, and I found myself on the fast track towards my first experience as a registered participant.
I’m relatively unfamiliar with car shows in general, so the feeling was definitely new. I never attended any of the previous annual Wekfests, but I knew that their attendance numbers was never an issue. This upcoming one would be their 5th anniversary and would be held inside the San Jose Convention Center. If anything, I at least wanted to give my car more exposure to the public since it’s tucked away behind closed doors most of the time.
The actual staging was scheduled on Friday, the day before the show. I didn’t have time to give the car a full detail, and was too lazy to anyway. I gave it a wash and rinse in the morning, and then kept a bottle of quick detailer to finish the prep once staged. Regardless of not having any wax or sealant, the paint ended up looking quite nice under the lighting inside the convention center.
When I arrived in the morning the next day, I was flabbergasted at the line that had amassed… which apparently had people waiting in since 6AM. While everyone was waiting for the show to officially start, I cut straight to the front and waltzed right in. It felt boss. One of the perks of showing your car…
Eventually the floodgates were opened and the show had commenced. At the peak of the traffic, there were swarms of people filling up all the walking lanes. It seemed like half the population there had a DSLR, so I didn’t bother to take any pictures except for a few select ones with my cellphone. I’m sure there’s a bountiful amount of professional media a quick Google away.
If publicity was what I wanted, it was certainly achieved, I think.
While entering a car show is a lot of work and you have to hang around until the very end, it was a memorable and engrossing experience. One of the highlights of Wekfest is the variety of cars. There were over 1000 applications during the registration phase, but only 300 or so were picked. Everything from standard protocol blinged-out show cars to time attack machines were presented. Overall, the caliber of the cars were very high. In the midst of all these wild creations, I felt that my RX-7 was relatively tame and subdued. Although the cars themselves were definitely cool, I particularly enjoyed talking to numerous old and new faces throughout the day.
At the end, the various judges decisions were tallied and the winners were announced. It was to my amusement when they declared I had won 1st place Mazda. All my hard work and efforts this past year finally amounted into something recognized and substantial, which felt great. I can acknowledge that the Mazda category was relatively niche so the competition wasn’t as fierce, but I’m still not going to let that notion diminish my award. A win is a win!
I was initially worried that the judges wouldn’t pick up all the minor details in the car, since they didn’t seem to scrutinize the car much. My premonitions were ultimately laid to rest. It just goes to show that cleanliness still triumphs above all – a universal truth that’s appreciated by everyone. From what I’ve gathered, having an engine bay worth showing is also especially important and will certainly net you an edge over your closed-hood peers.
Wekfest was long and tiring, yet a lot of fun. I can see how entering car shows can become addicting…
A buddy of mine helped take this picture back in April. He experimented with light painting, which I think came out pretty cool. There are many stacked exposures to achieve this look.
Omitting the Antilock Braking System was the next item on my simplification master plan. Do more with less (and increase reliability by virtue). To date, I have removed the windshield wipers and motor, power steering, air conditioning, air pump, and now the ABS. The single turbo conversion, of course, accounts for a slew of other simplifications. I wouldn’t have this car any other way. If it was easily feasible, I’d probably convert the power windows to manual roll-ups… and I’m only being semi-facetious here.
I know removing the ABS can raise controversy, but after doing my diligence, I concluded that it was worthy of the axe. First, early 90’s era ABS technology cannot compare to the accuracy offered by units of contemporary times. The technology has come a long ways, and the older counterparts leave much to be desired. Advances in the field such as computer driven traction and stability control are becoming the norm nowadays, whereas ABS was just starting to be commonplace when the FD was released. Given what an ABS must do to perform effectively, its inherent sophistication did not compliment well with the more crude and mechanical units of the 90’s. Notably, people who track their RX-7’s have complained of the ABS interfering.
As far as I’m concerned, I doubt the ABS is capable enough to be the saving grace and difference in an emergency situation. I would rather rely on my own braking ability and discretion. Plus, having 255 tires all-around with the increased stopping force of the BBK should certainly tip the favor.
In general, 90’s (Japanese) sports cars offer a very tappable platform for tuning and modifying. Additionally, they were also relatively raw and spartan, placing emphasis on the driver and not computers and gizmos. These characteristics explain why I’m so acclimated towards the RX-7, and I feel that the spirit of focus and refinement should be leveraged to its fullest extent.
Continuing on, here is the stock ABS pump, which dominates the back corner of the engine bay.
A savvy member on RX7Club put together and resold an ABS Delete Kit, which consists of XRP -3 SS Brake Lines, various fittings and adapter, and a SSBC Proportioning Valve. After yanking out the ABS pump and all of its associated brake hardlines, I routed in the new lines and fittings. Definitely cleans up the engine bay! I wrapped the line that crossed the engine bay in gold reflective tape.
The Delete Kit was a great bundle overall, but there were a few areas I was not satisfied with. For instance, there were 2 lines that had sharp bends in them.
I also wasn’t comfortable with the aluminum fittings that were included. On top of durability concerns in a high pressure environment like a brake system, electrolytic corrosion can take place when dissimilar metals are used together. I ended up rebuying the aluminum fittings in stainless steel from XRP (that Tee fitting in SS was almost $50 alone!). I also ordered a pair of new brake lines that had a 90* crimp, to help optimize the bends.
Here’s the new setup with 90* hose ends, even if it meant having to bleed the brakes all over again.
The proportioning valve leads to the rear brakes and allows for bias adjustments. This should help to tune and balance out the front BBK. I still need to get a bracket fabricated to hold the proportioning valve in place.
In the background, I was busy accumulating parts and performing the necessary tasks for a brake system overhaul. In actuality, I had everything I needed and was ready to start on the work for quite some time now. Instead, and to be perfectly frank, I was content with letting the parts sit on my shelves while I enjoyed the downtime. As you may be aware from looking back a few posts, I haven’t been the most active lately.
In fact, I don’t think I even drove the car in all this time – aside from the occasional warm-ups. I pushed all car related matters and thoughts outside my cognition and perception, and let me tell you, it felt great… The single turbo project over the Winter was an intense affair and its comedown left me in a state of weariness. Tackling car projects with a high level of scrutiny truly requires immense motivation and dedication. It will test the stamina of anyone.
Alas, I found an impetus to end my “vacation” and carry on. Before diving into the actual installation, I need to start with a preface on the big brake kit. The RX-7’s brake system is generally very good and capable. However, this fact still doesn’t exclude it from being upgraded. My overall agenda with my car is to raise its standards holistically, while still operating within in the scope of Mazda’s original concept. As an analogy, I’m pursuing my goals in the same vein as Porsche did with their GTx RS cars.
With that said, I narrowed my decision for a big brake kit upgrade to the Brembo GT. Buying this kit new is prohibitively expensive, but I was lucky in being able to find a low-mileage set of calipers and rotor hats. To finish the puzzle and take care of the friction discs, I bought a pair of cross-drilled StopTech AeroRotors. The choice on going with cross-drilled over slotted was simply due to ballerness. It’s safe to assume that I will not be road racing this car in the near future, so the functional benefits of slotted versus cross-drilled are extraneous for me. In the similar mentality, I chose to go with StopTech Street pads all around for their balance of performance and low dust.
In order to mount the StopTech AeroRotors to the Brembo hats, there was a catch. The 2 companies use a different method to “float” their rotors and also use different hardware. Brembo accomplishes this by having a small, raised step that circumferences the backside of the hat. StopTech, on the other hand, accomplishes the task through the hardware and does not need the raised lip. So I brought the hats down to a local machine shop and paid the owner on the side to carefully lathe it off.
Here’s a look at the stock front brakes.
Aside from the new Brembo brakes being obviously bigger in diameter, they are wider and have curved vanes.
Cleaned, torqued down, and installed.
The fitment compatibility with the front wheels was something I eagerly anticipated in testing. Luckily, the BBK was a perfect fit with the 17″ RegaMasters, and really fill up the space inside.
With the fronts taken care of, I also wanted to refresh the rears to be thorough. I bought new lines, pads, rotors, and even remanufactured calipers. The last time ended up being a horrible decision. This is a classic example of doing too much, when you should just keep it simple. My original calipers were in great shape and needed no attention, yet I felt impelled to replace them, which is why reman calipers seemed like a good idea – since a professional company rebuilds and cleans them for you. Long story short, one of the calipers came with a piston that had pitting all over from past rust. Although this may have been functional and leak-free, I refused to install it on my car.
I lied about the story’s brevity, allow me to expand. I called RockAuto.com (I was referred to them by another RX7Club member without realizing it was some hodgepodge discount place) where I purchased these reman calipers from and requested a replacement or a refund. The customer service representative obliged, but noted that I would need to pay the shipping for a replacement. I didn’t feel like this was entirely fair because there was blatant product quality control and conformity issues. I was about to agree to their terms when it was suggested that a “manager” may be able to provide a better solution. After getting transferred to this so-called manager, he single-mindedly to deny my request altogether and dictates that no replacement will be granted. I of course questioned his state of mind and he proceeds to brag about his past “lead technician” credentials. So now I’m stuck with these calipers because this guru mechanic (probably only pumped gas for people) turned big boss manager of a call-center wanted to play tyrant.
DO NOT BUY FROM ROCKAUTO… unless you want to receive garbage parts and then receive false promises.
Needless to say, I opted to reuse my original rear calipers. I did have to put in grunt work to clean them up, strip the old paint, and then repaint them red to match the fronts.
I know red brake calipers may seem cliche, but at the end of the day, they look damn good. Red on Black strikes an interesting contrast. On a related note, Black, Red, and White are colors that grab attention when used in combination (refer to Nazi flag…).
I never seem to have much fortune when it comes to bleeding brakes, in one way or another, it always turns into an excruciating experience. During the first day, I ran out of a liter of ATE SuperBlue fluid. The next morning, a Sunday, I had to track down a store that was open and also carried ATE. I went over a couple cities to a Monument Car Parts store and was luckily able to buy it off their shelves (I’ve never even heard of Monument Car Parts prior to this). Then I proceeded to bleed the brakes for 3 HOURS because I was adamant on getting EVERY little bubble out and made 3 rounds around the car. Why did it take 3 hours? Because TWICE I made the mistake of letting the reservoir run out of fluid, thus sucking in air and forcing me to repeat the process anew. I guess it’s difficult to control everything when you’re so focused on seeing little bubbles come out… pump after pump. It also didn’t help that the Brembo calipers had 2 bleed valves each.
Best of all, I’ll have to rebleed the brakes AGAIN in the near future. I also deleted my ABS and wasn’t happy with a few bends in the new lines, so they will need replacing. I will save this topic for a post of its own, later.
I feel that this is a bit anti-climatic… but the RX-7 rolled over 25,000 miles a couple of weeks ago. That means during my ownership, I only drove it a mere 500 miles. Most of these miles were dedicated to driving to and fro the body shop and various other shops. The car has spent more of its time with me on jackstands than on the road. I’ll waive any further commentary on this matter…
Updates have been lacking recently on the website because in all honesty, I opted to take a break. With the single turbo conversion finally completed and the car running beautifully… what’s the next move?
From the very beginning when the idea to buy another RX-7 popped into my mind almost exactly a year ago, I acknowledged what I would be getting myself into. I was equipped with enough experience, having gone through multiple projects and builds in the past, to know that this would be a similar process. Just on an even grander scale. I knew that this RX-7 would be my most ambitious undertaking to date, and had to accept all the sacrifices that followed. I think the underlying reason why I would even willingly desire such a lofty goal stems from a determination to push. It was this same determination that ultimately saw me through the project and up to this point today.
The amount of work I invested into this car was compressed into a relatively short time span of less than a year. This meant that throughout its duration, I would have to constantly think about the car or work on it. There was no such thing as a break, and there certainly wasn’t time to do much else on top of my day job and school work. Life wasn’t easy, but I was cognizant of the challenge I subjected myself to. I looked at the situation as if I was tackling a very large and intricate puzzle.
In addition to the labor and time involved, the near psychotic levels of money spending made the whole endeavor monumentally exhausting. Not only did I have to buy a low-mileage RX-7 to start, it didn’t even end up accounting for half of the equation. I remember maxing out my credit card repeatedly over the course of the previous Winter. At the minimum, I received 4-5 packages in the mail on a weekly basis for months whilst undergoing the single turbo work.
So what’s next for me is to take a step back and enjoy some fresh air – away from all the oil-filled chemicals in the garage, away from the long nights of toiling work, and away from the financially burdening habit of buying parts. My vision for the car is finally realized to an extent that I can be satisfied with. I have conquered a seemingly insurmountable task, to prove that it can be done with tact and perseverance. I know there’s only enough will and strength in me to have one go-around at this. So now it’s time to reap the benefits and move on…
My plan is to actually focus on returning to a normal life, a life that isn’t consumed by a single thought. I’ve been quite busy lately keeping active lifestyle because my first motivation is to try and reinstate the years I know I lost from working on all these projects over the years. The amount of stress endured definitely accumulates to a significant toll.
The change in pace lately has been great, but I know one thing is for certain… albeit I’m at the end of one “hobby,” I’ll have to pick something else up to fill the gap. Otherwise, I’ll end up feeling bored and dull. Definitely no more cars though, I’ve been down that road for far too long now.