26 October 2007

Mazda RX-7 by Calvin Wan

If the name Calvin Wan sounds familiar, it should. Calvin Wan is well known to the growing number of motorsports fans who have become drift fanatics. As a driver for Falken Tires’ professional drift team, he drifts the company’s GReddy twin-turbo’d Infiniti in the Formula D North American drifting championship and Falken Drift Showoff events – and even competes in international D1 Grand Prix drift competition on occasion. In July of 2005, Wan became the first driver to drift a Japanese nameplate into Formula D’s winner’s circle. But while his company car is an Infiniti, his personal weapon of choice is a Mazda RX-7.

In fact, Wan first appeared on the national map in a red, FD generation Mazda RX-7 at the 2003 D1 U.S. vs. Japan driver’s search – the first major drifting event in the U.S. He heavily damaged his RX-7 during qualifying, but still managed to impress a lot of people that day – including Falken Tires brass, who soon signed the Northern California resident to a team contract. While the new position thrust him into an international spotlight, it hasn’t changed Wan’s proclivity towards rotary powered sliders.

“I am very fond of Mazdas and the FD3S,” says Wan. “I believe it is one of the greatest sports cars ever built. I have been to many Sevenstock events at Mazda’s headquarters in Irvine, California. I am particularly interested in the new RX-7 that they are coming out with in the near future.”

There’s no better proof than the subject of our Meet The Tuners feature that you see here - Wan’s personal snow white FD3S Mazda RX-7, which replaces his red FD and has just finished its multi-year transformation from stocker to shocker. Starting its transformation from the depths of despair, Wan’s turbocharged and tuned RX-7 has relied on hand-me-downs and spares parts to attain its dressed-to-thrill looks and dizzying performance.

“I bought the chassis through Rotary Reliability and Racing in Southern California,” says Wan. “It was a beat-up parts car and I dreamed of turning it into a top level drift/time attack car. The lion’s share of credit goes to Henry Chung of Motorsport Dynamics - he handled all the mechanical wrenching, from the meticulous seam welding of the body to the installation of all the hard parts. Apexi USA supplied an old, discontinued AX75F82 turbo kit and the R-Magic Saito Roll Cage from their U.S. D1 drift car. The motor, drivetrain and suspension came off of my previous red D1 FD.”

The Apexi AX75-series turbos, still mainstays in the Apexi lineup, are designed for single turbo applications and rely on ARICK assisted ball bearing center sections to improve responsiveness and generous compressor A/Rs to deliver big power. The unit on Wan’s car with an 82-spec cold side is rated at 550 to 650 horsepower, which kicks the back around quite nicely when the boost hits. The rotary runs a very hip Rotary Extreme V-mount intercooler/radiator set-up that positions the chiller in a top-mount looking location forward of the engine. The radiator is laid out to make a V configuration and allow air from the nose to dissipate heat from both exchangers. The piping is a Rotary Extreme affair using a GReddy elbow as ‘point-A.’ Tuning is addressed with an Apex Power FC and AVC-R/ The Power FC is a piggyback ECU that allows tuning of ignition timing maps, fuel duty cycle, and air flow meter simulation among others. The AVC-R is Apexi’s tried-and-proven boost controller. The fuel system has been fortified with an Apexi BNR33 pump, Aeromotive regulator and upgraded 850cc primary and 1300cc secondary injectors expertly flow-matched by RC Engineering. Finally, the driveline has been taken to task with an Exedy clutch set, KAAZ two-way, clutch type differential, Mazdaspeed bushings and a RE Amemiya D1-spec shifter.

Footwork consists of Apexi N1 Pro coilovers, the all important Super Now steering adaptors that give more turn-in to keep pace with quick drift transitions, Rotary Extreme arms and ST Suspension roll bars. The Mazda rolls 18-inch Gram Lights aluminum and Falken Azenis RT-615 rubber. Up front, 18x9 wheels are joined by 235/40 tires while out back 18x10 rims and 275/35 tires are tortured as they are heavily hazed during serious sideways maneuvers.

Today the FD looks like no other parts car we can think of. Almaden Collision worked the magic in the body tuning department by massaging the panels and installing a jaw-dropping Final Konnexion body kit. The Mazda also sports aggressive Final Konnexion front and rear fascias and side skirts augmented by a Rotary Extreme rear wing and N1-spec carbon hood. Finishing touches include a Motorsport Dynamics front splitter, C-west canards and Feed headlight ducts.

“We got the chassis finished for SEMA 2004 and displayed at the Star Shield Armor booth," says Wan. “The car was fully completed and ran for the first time during the Inaugural San Jose Grand Prix Formula D Drifting Demonstration. Since then it is has been dual-purpose car for both time attack racing and drifting. It got second place in the Super Street Time Attack in the Drift Class and first place during the Nitro 2 Go – Rim of the World Drifting Invitational. It has been to numerous car shows - from HIN to Import Showoff to SF and San Jose International Auto Shows to the Exedy Globalparts Corporation booth in SEMA 2005.”

“More recently,” Wan continues, “I have been participating in a lot of events and shows with the car. I just finished participating in a cover story shootout comparison for Sport Compact Car magazine. The shootout went very well - my FD3S won most of the evaluations.”

“I am also signed up for the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix drift demo. I am helping promote the race during the Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift premier at a downtown San Jose theater. Then, during the actual Grand Prix, I will be pulling gs in the drifting demo during the full weekend of the race at the end of July. Me and that RX-7…we keep pretty busy.”

Wan’s RX-7 and its highly boosted rotary powerplant are a hard act to follow, but they serve as a great idea factory for aspiring FD enthusiasts out there…so go forth and ‘Zoom, Zoom’ to your own tune.

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