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MOTORING: The Seventh Sin – Mazda RX7

Featured in Freestyle Volume 05 2008. Story by Jeremy Shields. Photography by Phil Cooper.

Intimidating other entrants at a car show is one thing, but this RX7 leaves everyone in it’s wake shaking in their boots…

I’d seen a picture of it before, and remembered vividly how I’d simply stared in a combination of puzzlement and awe at just how incredibly modified Brendon’s Type-R RX-7 was, and when John-John and Ross announced that this issue’s cover car – and my next assignment - was an FD, I immediately knew what was coming. These guys never fail to disappoint!

It’s always interesting having such a subject slapped on your desk though, because when you open up that first studio-shot image and cop an eyeful of high-resolution eye candy of the highest quality, you get this strange mix of excitement and at the same time trepidation, anxiety and nerves.

I mean, it’s not rocket science to string a few words together about someone’s crazy-ass project car, but to do not only the car itself, but the truly monstrous amount of time and work expended by those involved in the build justice… Well, you wanna do the right thing.

In simple terms, it’s not every day you get your hands on something as jaw-dropping as this, but here at Freestyle, that’s our game, and after the last 4 volumes we’d hate to disappoint.

Believe it or not, this is in fact a slightly more tame version of the car than in the past, with the turbocharged 20B no longer providing drive to those 20x10.5” rims that you’ve no doubt noticed as being just a tad different to the norm, but we’ll get to them later.

Due to the sheer torque of the 20B playing havoc on the extensively modified chassis, Brendon was forced to drop a rotor and revert to a trusty 13B, although one could argue with confidence that this engine is just as extreme, if not more so, than the old triple, and those who have experienced – or even simply heard – a peripheral port rotary will know exactly what I mean.

Possibly the most anti-social of any engine you’d care to name, with a super-crisp idle beat and screaming top-end, the peripheral port is basically your key to power while staying naturally aspirated when talking rotors, and I think we can safely assume that Brendon’s not averse to a bit of attention.

Screwed together with new rotors, 3mm carbon apex seals, new FC 13B housings, and 3-window bearings by “some top engine builder over these ways”, the PP 13B is pumping out a claimed 260kW with the help of a Zex nitrous kit, 48mm IDA weber carby, and a “Drew custom” exhaust, although we use the term ‘exhaust’ with lenience, as with dual 2” pipes merging into a single 4” side pipe exiting the body just behind the driver’s side front wheel, there’s not a great deal to it! Even Phil, our photographer, couldn’t get over how spastic this thing went when fired up, and before long there was a private car show happening with people walking out of every building within a 500m radius to see what the hell was going on. But that’s just the nature of the beast. Peripheral ports – we love ‘em, and you should too.

While the engine may have changed recently, one thing that remains consistent in the eye-popping stakes is the simply staggering appearance of the car, ensuring that when whatever it is that’s making that strange ‘brap-brap-brap’ noise comes into view, the impact is purely intense.

Bought 2 years ago to be used as a drift-mobile, the car was quick and in mint condition apart from a bent front suspension arm, but as we’ve all heard and even experienced before, once the modding bug bit and it’s creative venom began coursing through Brendon’s veins, it was all over. One thing led to another and before long the car was roofless, allowing 4 inches to be taken out of the pillars to give it a classic rod-style chop-top which sets the seriously custom theme for the rest of the car. A pillarless door conversion was next, with the window frames lopped off and the top of the doors filled over and smoothed. As if this wasn’t enough Brendan then decided door hinges were old-school, and with suicides a little played out these days, something totally different was in order. It took a long time to track them down, but Gail and Brian Gilbert came to the rescue, managing to source a set of 600mm electric rams that do away altogether with the need for any hinging or pivot mechanisms, simply extending the doors straight out from the body. It’s pretty unique, and as you can see from the pictures, when the doors are open, it just adds yet another mind-blowing aspect to how much there is to see and do with the car. It’s almost like an amusement park for car lovers.

One of the things we love most about this project is the obvious hot-rod theme used in conjunction with other new-school high-tech modification. A perfect example is the rear window frame, modelled on that of an early split-screen Corvette. This flows rearwards into a fully re-shaped tail, with the hatch and shell welded together to create a one-piece section. The standard rear wing was removed, replaced with a kick moulded into the trailing edge, although this is reportedly soon to change once again, with a large drag-style wing ear-marked for installation.

Seeing as standard bodywork is apparently against Brendon’s religion, when it came to redefining the rest of the factory Mazda shell the choice to go with a full, genuine BN Sports bodykit was an easy one, and with 110mm of extra width per side, that 4 inch roof chop suddenly looks more like 8 inches. Interestingly, getting his mitts on the kit in the first place proved to be a challenge in itself, but while many others said they could get it and that was about it, it was Adam from PBI Performance who finally came through with the goods.

Just whacking on an off-the-shelf kit would never do though, so Brendan enlisted the help of Jono Hawkins and Steve from Team Crash Repairs to get it all fitted up right, and then make with the resin and mat and mould it all together with the shell for a seamless finish. Basically what started as a 13 piece kit ended up as 4, and the result is outstanding to say the least.

Once again the custom gloves went on and attention was turned to the tail lights, and with the factory items removed and binned, each side was re-shaped to suit the new-found girth and a set of round tail lights, traditional rotary style. Up front a custom bonnet was created and fitted up, and if you’d seen the car when it had the 20B in it, you’d know why!

Things were coming together externally at this stage, but in reality the project was still in it’s infancy. The interior hadn’t been touched yet, and if this thing was going to be done properly and thoroughly, there was still a list of mods and work the size of Mt. Everest to get through before the satin gunmetal with silver pearl and custom blue could be laid down.

First up was the floor, which was removed before being completely re-framed and replaced, but this was small-time compared to the rest of the cabin, the likes of which you’re not gonna see every day. But if you’re a fan of fibreglass, Perspex, and ridiculous amounts of audio/visual equipment, welcome to heaven.

The pictures will tell most of the story, but what they won’t explain is that those Perspex seats and Perspex steering… err… device were custom jobs made up by Brendon himself. The remainder of the panelling was created from fibreglass, creating a blank canvas as far as where and how the masses of speakers and screens could be fitted, and just as well too, because wherever there was enough room to whack something in, the space was filled with something from audio gods Soundstream.

The truth is, we could span several complete issues of Freestyle covering Brendon’s ICE setup with ease, but without such luxuries, we’ll have to get straight to the details. It’s almost frightening how much gear this FD is packing, and if it wasn’t for the car no longer having windows, we reckon it would serve pretty well as a particularly evil torture device, causing anything that entered to implode with the sheer amount of air pressure provided by the 7 subs scattered throughout. With 1 RW10” in the dash, 2 more in the doors along with a pair of PCW12”s and a pair of earth-shaking R1-15”s in the rear, we’re talking a combined cone area of 84 inches. If memory serves it was Chuck D who coined the term “bass for your face”… I guess he had a premonition about Brendon’s FD.

Serving up the medium-high register is more Soundstream gear, with no less than 7 SST65 6” fronts, surrounded by a pair of SST5.2” and pair of SST4” items, while another pair of SST65 6” have been mounted rearward of those unique front seats.

A Pioneer 5.1 Dolby Digital Processor takes care of the what, why and where, with Soundstream 0 and 4 gauge wiring completing the network. Providing the power is a host of amps, including a PCA 2000D, a pair of ‘Little Wonder’ 4-channel units, an SMA 700.2 and a 2.260, all supplied once again by Soundstream. A 40 Farad cap ensures no drop in voltage, while three 1000CCA Supercharge batteries can keep it all going for 3 days without touching the mains.

Not to be outdone by the audio department, the visual aspect of the system is just as impressive, with a trio of 7” screens in the rear bumper, a pair in the dash (displaying everything from DVDs to what’s behind while reversing), another pair of 7” in the floors, and to really make an impact, 2 more 6” behind the wheels. Why? Because, like the seats and tiller, Brendon’s got creative and made them out of Perspex too! If you can think of a better way to show off the fact that you’re rolling on crystal-clear 19x8.5” fronts and 20x10.5” rears, we’d like to hear it…

Perhaps one of the coolest parts of the system, though, is the head unit itself – a Pioneer AVHP5750 DVD player with 6.5” touch-screen, and Pioneer Vehicle Dynamics Processor, providing Brendon with a huge amount of information from engine RPM, speed, shift light, horsepower (hey, the Bugatti Veyron has a horsepower meter!), data-logging, GPS, 0-100km/h times and much more. So if you were wondering where the usual gauge cluster had got to, now you know – there’s simply no need for it!

From the chop to the rat-rod-esque satin paint and pinstriping, if you couldn’t tell we’re all about this FD and it’s seriously ground-breaking style. We can’t think of a better example of mixing old-school tough and new-school tech, but as with any true customizer, Brendon’s not finished yet, and with that big, drag-inspired wing and other bits yet to go on, you better start preparing now for the next episode.


Owner. Brendon Gilbert

Vehicle. 1994 Mazda RX-7 Type-R

Engine. Series IV RX-7 13B Rotary , New rotor housings and end plates, 3mm carbon apex seals, 3-window bearings, Peripheral ported housings, 48mm IDA Weber carburettor, K&N air filter, Holley Pro fuel pump, Custom exhaust manifold, 4” side pipe – no mufflers, Zex Nitrous kit, Heavy duty clutch/lightened flywheel, Power approx. 260kW @ wheels

Body/Paint. Satin Gunmetal with silver pearl, Custom mix blue, 4” roof chop, Door window frames removed, Door tops re-shaped and smoothed, Corvette Stingray-style rear window, Custom floor panels, Custom bonnet, Hatch and rear end welded together and re-shaped, Modified 13-piece BN Sports blister kit, Custom 12V door rams, Custom tail lights, Custom pin striping

Brakes/Suspension. Standard FD RX-7 brakes, D2 coilovers all-round

Wheels. Custom Perspex “Brendon Specials”, Front: 19x8.5” rims / 225/35/19 Falken FK452 rubber, Rear: 20x10.5” rims / 255/30/20 Falken FK452 rubber

Interior. Fully re-shaped fibreglass panels throughout, Custom Perspex seats and steering wheel

Audio/Visual. Pioneer AVHP5450 DVD 6.5” touch-screen, Pioneer Vehicle Dynamics Processor, Front: 7 x Soundstream SST 65, 2 x Sounstream SST 5.2, 2 x Sounstream SST 4”, Soundstream RW10 sub in dash, 2 x Soundstream PCW 10 subs in doors, 2 x Soundstream PCW 12 subs in doors, Rear: 2 x Soundstream SST 65, 2 x R1-15 subs, Pioneer 5.1 Dolby Digital processor, Soundstream PCA 2000D sub amp, 2 x Soundstream ‘Little Wonder’ 4 channel amps, Soundstream SMA 700.2 amp for front sub, Soundstream 2.260 amp for centre speaker, Soundstream 40 Farad capacitor, 3 x Soundstream 7” screens in rear bumper, 2 x Soundstream 7” screens in dash, 2 x Soundstream 7” screens in floor, 2 x Soundstream, 6” screens behind Perspex wheels, Soundstream 0 and 4 gauge wiring throughout


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