Alright, we’ve already given you a basic introduction to our SA22 RX-7 in the first installment which can be found HERE. I was planing on keeping this project under wraps until we debuted it at JCCS in a few weeks but the secret will be out in a couple of days on a rather large automotive blog anyways so I figured we would give our loyal JDML followers a heads up before the cat’s out of the bag.
I’ll be honest, we’ve had a vision for this car before it ever left Japan and wheels have been in motion on this project for months now getting everything necessary lined up to complete the build we had in mind. Those of you that have been following us for a while already know about the Hotwheels car that we were honored to be a part of.
We were so honored in fact that we have made the decision to bring it to life in full scale form. The first piece to the puzzle we needed to track down was the IMSA wide body kit that was used on the GTU class RX-7′s from 79-85. After an exhaustive bit of searching we were finally able to find the exact kit we needed. It actually showed up before we even received the car so Ryan and I couldn’t help ourselves.
Another important part of the package is the massive rear spoiler that was also used on the race cars. Luckily for us were able to get in contact with RX-7 specialists Mariah Motorsports in California to get them to make one specifically for us out of an old mold they have been using for years. Ryan caught me in the act of inspecting it in all of it’s awesome, over sized glory. This thing is huge!
The first thing we did after we received the car was remove the glued on factory side moldings so we could get the over-fenders mounted to the car. Max, our trusty intern used a rubber pinstripe removal tool to get rid all the old adhesive residue.
I already had the exact wheels in mind that I knew would be perfect for this build, but with an 8-12 week lead time for the custom sizing and finish that I wanted I knew these needed to be ordered asap if we wanted them here in time so the next thing we did was a quick mock-up of the kit so we could take measurements to get the perfect fitment.
We started with the widest wheels we had here at the time which were the 15″x10″ Hayashi streets from our Silver, 72 Hakosuka. Even in that wide of a size they still didn’t fill out the huge over-fenders quite like I wanted so it was time to bust out the calculator and take some measurements.
With the wheels measured up and placed on order it was now time to start on the body modifications necessary to complete the look. This is the pile of parts that won’t be making their way back onto the car when it’s finished.
It was now time to permanently mount the over-fenders to the car. The first step on this particular kit was to mark and drill every single mounting hole so that the mounting hardware sits centered in the reliefs that are built in to the mold.
Also, before any of the panels were mounted we went through and re-aligned the front and rear bumpers to make sure everything was fitting as properly and consistent as possible.
There was quite a large potential of error when installing these as there is no reference for exactly where it is supposed to sit in relation to the factory fender. Also, multiply that by the fact that without having the proper fitting wheel mounted on the car, the wheels we had sit so far inside the over-fender that it was difficult to make sure it was centered so we came up with the idea of strapping straight pieces of aluminum to each side of the tire so we could measure the exact distance to the fender edge to get them perfectly centered.
Before we could mount the rear fenders, they needed to be trimmed in order for the doors to be able to properly open and close without coming into contact with them.
And with that, the fenders were now permanently mounted to the car. Pretty wide right?
Next up was the front spoiler. This had a very odd shape to it and from the best I can tell (there obviously aren’t any sort of installation instructions for something like this) we either got the front spoiler for an earlier body style or this was designed to be trimmed to fit.
We weren’t about to try and track down another one with the limited amount of time we have to get this finished so I decided to trim this one down and make it work.
There also weren’t any allocations for attaching the spoiler to the fenders so I made an aluminum bracket to fix the two together for addition strength.
Now onto that enormously awesome rear spoiler. There weren’t any allocations for mounting this either so I decided to first get it into place on the decklid and trace the outline. After that, I drill the holes into the chassis first, so I can then re-mount the spoiler and mark the mounting holes onto the bottom of it.
I then installed nut-serts into the bottom of the spoiler to keep it firmly mounted in place and easily removable.
Here’s a closeup..
It’s now time to mark the over-fenders and remove them so I can trim out the factory fenders to allow room for the massive wheel and tire combination we plan on running… and as you can see it’s quite a bit.
I’ve covered the rest of the process many times before so I won’t get too in depth this time, just a couple of pictures.
In order to clean up the car a little an get that look we were going for I decided we needed to remove a few additional items on the car before it was ready for paint. First up was both front side markers.
Both door mirrors .
The antenna hole.
And finally, the rear window sprayer.
This car was for the most part very rust free but there were two areas that didn’t seem to age too well along the bottom of both doors.
It was bad enough that it needed to be cut out and normally we would have just patched them but when you have access to a complete pair of rust free, factory doors for $90 it just makes more sense buy replacements. The only stipulation was that we had to make a trip down to the scrapyard to pull them. Not normally a big deal but by the look of the outside of the door when we pulled up it looked like this one wouldn’t be coming off as easily as I would have hoped for…
And the inside didn’t look much better… quite ironic that they made their nest right on the door hinge I needed to remove.
I won’t get into the gruesome details but lets say I have since added a can of wasp spray to my junkyard tool kit. We also came across this amazing factory installed sticker on one of the FB’s they had in the junkyard that would be PERFECT for our build but after spending a half of an hour trying to remove it with the limited tools we had on hand, we decided we’ll have to make a trip back with some more specialized tools to get it out without breaking it.
By now enough time had passed that the wheels we had ordered finally made their way from Japan to the shop and all I can say is WOW. Time for some obligatory iphone comparison pictures…
The final size we decided on was 15″x10″ -28 up front and a 15″x11″ -16 in the rear with a matte gunmetal center and bronze anodized barrels. Now we just need some tires to fit them.
My goal for this car was to be built enough to post some decent times at the circuit but also retain just enough civility to be able to still be street driven. That being said only a semi-slick would do so I ordered up the widest Toyo R888 15″ combination possible which ended up being a 225 up front and a 235 out back. Not normally as wide as I would like, but race tires are notoriously over sized and as you can see there isn’t much of a stretch at all.
And how to they fit? Pretty damn good if you ask me…
Just like the TA22, this is the JDM-L meaty flush style that I feel suits these cars so well. And as a bonus, it should grip just as good as it looks. That’s all for now, the SA22 is now out for paint but we still have quite a bit of work left to be done before our September 15th deadline for JCCS so stay tuned to see if we can get it done in time….