- The FD3S RX7 is considered a crucial piece of ‘90s JDM royalty amongst its palpable rivals: the MK4 Supra, NA1 NSX, and Z32 300ZX.
- The RX7 moniker, its remarkable handling, and the unique rotary powerplant have amassed a deserved cult following.
- Chris Johnston’s FD is a labor of love spanning 14 years of discovery, hardship, perseverance, and deserved recognition.
- This FD is highlighted by a decidedly TA-focused aesthetic that combines RE Amemiya styling with a modified R Magic widebody kit, and so much more.
Infatuation often proves essential to creating memorable art. RE Amemiya has proved this to be true; they’ve obsessively massaged Mazda’s rotary engine (and the cars around it) since its inception in 1974. With a Super GT Championship crown, competitive running in D1 Grand Prix drifting, and coveted Hot Version Touge titles over other notable Japanese tuners, their motorsport impact cannot be understated.
While other motorsport outfits’ influence may not travel far outside of the circuit grounds, RE Amemiya’s work continued to impress, transcending pop culture with Keisuke Takahashi’s hillclimb FD RX7 in Initial D. It’s no wonder that the famed tuner’s portfolio still attracts fans, like Chris Johnston’s FD3S you see here, long after the platform has been out of production.
His First Love
High school sweetheart stories seem few and far between nowadays, but Chris’s RX7 journey started during those ripe years. Believe it or not, the FD was actually Chris’s first car — it began its life as a Montego Blue/Tan automatic with cut springs that, to his own admission, broke down 15 minutes into his drive home. It wasn’t exactly the ideal way to start his build, but the FD was (and still is) his dream car, so this did little to deter him from achieving his ultimate goal.
Fourteen years later, the car assumes a more familiar form to all of us — gleaming in Mazda’s OEM Sunburst Yellow paint (from the RS-R 30th Anniversary and Bathurst R Editions), full RE Amemiya aero, and about a billion other parts that create a perfect circuit-inspired vision.
More Than a Car
Although Chris’s long-term tenure with the FD is already a sign of his unwavering commitment to the platform, a lot can happen in 14 years. The RX7 has, quite literally, transformed alongside Chris; they’ve grown up together through the best and worst of times. Scroll his Instagram and he’s not shy to share his struggles:
“It’s more than just a car though, it was my home for a while during my lowest point in life and now it is a constant reminder of how far I have come and what I am able to accomplish.”
And what an accomplishment it is. While it is common to hear that builds are “more than the sum of their parts”, this negates the human quality that propels any vision forward. Quite literally, sacrifice, humility, frustration, and patience have just as much to do with how Chris’s RX7 has matured. It’s another important reminder to everyone that these stories aren’t written overnight, as much as social media makes it seem.
This word has, unfortunately, devolved into a misnomer for people who like to go on vacation. In its truest form, wanderlust reflects an individual’s intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, confronting unforeseen challenges, and rebelling against the common path. Chris’s RX7 story has been this and so much more; his goal to create the ultimate FD has supplanted compromise for resolute. Despite calling Virginia home, Chris’s FD has amassed components from some of the most vetted rotary hot spots worldwide. After losing an apex seal on his birthday in 2015, Eccentric Motorsports put together a refreshed 13B REW with a half bridge port to push top-end power output and a single Borg Warner EFR 8374 EWG turbo took over duties from the factory twin snails. The resulting numbers speak for themselves: 521whp/435 lb-ft on E85 and 424whp/377lb-ft on 93 pump gas. Sounds downright enthralling in a car that weighs a scant 2,300 pounds.
Chris’s lofty expectations certainly didn’t end with power. The aforementioned RE Amemiya treatment was complemented by a generous serving of other mods like the modified R Magic widebody kit and several other pieces from Seibon, Esprit, Project Mu, Volk Racing, and more. Where off-the-shelf components didn’t exist, Chris worked with companies like Klaus Composites — a VA-based engineering firm for automotive and aerospace — to create pieces from scratch.
After this six-year endeavor, the car was finally painted the rare factory hue you see here.
The World Stage
The effort was certainly worth it. Shortly after completion, Chris’s RX7 debuted at the SEMA Show in 2021. Despite being “96% introverted”, Johnston and his FD3S were the centers of attention at the Fortune Auto booth.
Unsurprisingly, Chris’s car caught our attention too; it easily became one of our favorites from the show. Although it may not have taken home an award that day, it left an impression worthy of something special: a well-deserved spot in our ongoing poster series. Captured by the talented Arlen Liverman, the opportunity allows a handful of lucky winners on social media to cherish this build as intended and it cements Chris’s car into a league of our staff’s discerning favorites, including Alex Alfaro’s Type R.
If you’re wondering where this build goes from here, Chris admits that it’s time to simply enjoy it. As much as he used games like Forza and Gran Turismo to help fine-tune his vision of how he wanted the car to look, 2023 seems like the right time to turn those virtual lap times into legit ones. He’s already upped his game (no pun intended) by creating a special RX7 mod in Assetto Corsa — one that closely mimics his own tuning — to get one step closer to the real thing. Thank you, Chris, for your commitment. Not just to excellence, but to long-term ownership. It’s there where a car and the human beings behind it truly become one.
Chris Johnston | FD3S RX7
|Exterior:||RE Amemiya first gen N1 bumper, RE Amemiya dual carbon fiber canards, RE Amemiya carbon fiber undersweep, RE Amemiya sleek headlight kit, RE Amemiya headlight intake duct, RE Amemiya AD9 hood, RE Amemiya carbon hood gurneys, RE Amemiya carbon fiber diffuser vortex generators, RE Amemiya center dividers, RE Amemiya carbon fiber tail light cover, Re Amemiya front tow hook, Klaus Composites dry carbon fiber chassis mount splitter, Eccentric Motorsports custom splitter mounts, Eccentric Motorsports custom wing stands, Eccentric Motorsports chassis mount wing stand mount brackets, Eccentric Motorsports side step guard for wastegates, Professional Awesome racing splitter support rods, Ready Go Next carbon fiber hood vents, modified R Magic N1 widebody kit, R magic carbon side steps, R Magic air deflector, R Magic rear canard, Seibon carbon fiber doors, Seibon carbon fiber hatch, Fal lexan rear window, Marsh Powerhouse carbon fiber roof, Esprit GT wing, Esprit gurney flap, Car shop GLOW carbon fiber end plates, Car shop GLOW carbon fiber diffuser, Craftsquare carbon fiber mirrors, Bubble Tech lexan door windows, Evo R carbon fiber door handle covers, Aerocatch hood pins, custom cut OEM rear bumper, Garage Alpha carbon fiber cowl panel, LED Tail Light Modz tail lights, Bubble tech rear tow hook, Narita Dogfight custom banner, sponsor stickers by Fancy Logic Design, paint and body work done at DRP Collsion|
|Interior:||Bubble Tech aluminum race dash, Bubble Tech aluminum v2.0 race door panels, Bubble Tech switch panel, Bubble Tech heel plates, Bride zeta 3 seats, Takata 6-point harnesses, Haltech dash display, 945 Garage 10-point roll cage, fire suppression system, Garage Alpha aluminum widened gas pedal, Garage Alpha titanium e-brake handle, Garage Alpha titanium shift knob, Ronin Speedworks seat rails, Eccentric Motorsports custom chassis wiring, Eccentric Motorsports light switch panel, Eccentric Motorsports boost controller, Sparco steering wheel, Sparco quick release, Sparco hub, Sparco hub spacer, Narita Dogfight steering wheel (spare/show), Feed shift knob, Racebread shift knob|
|Engine/Drivetrain:||Brand new 13b REW built by Eccentric Motorsports, Eccentric Motorsports stainless and billet manifold, Eccentric Motorsports v-mount radiator with PWR core, Eccentric Motorsports catch can, half bridge port, Borg Warner efr 8374 ewg turbo, Chips Motorsports lightened, balanced, and clearanced rotors, twin Turbosmart wastegates, custom fender exit wastegate dumps, Exedy twin disk clutch, Exedy lightweight flywheel, custom transmission brace, Mazdaspeed short shifter, Racebread shifter, Kaaz 1.5 way differential, RX8 4.44 final drive, Eccentric Motorsports differential brace, Super Now differential bushings, stud and dowel kit, Goopy solid apex seals, Injector dynamics 1000/2000 injectors, Eccentric Motorsports oil pan, Eccentric Motorsports downpipe, Eccentric Motorsports full titanium exhaust, Haltech 1500 elite ECU, Haltech engine harness, AEM meth injection, Spal electric fans, Aftermarket industries sp800 billet surge tank, 2 Walbro 525 pumps, 1 Walbro 450 high flow pump|
|Brakes/Suspension:||Fortune Auto Dreadnought Pro 2-way coilovers with 18kg Swift springs, Super Now polyurethane adjustable bushings, Super Now bullet sway bar mount brackets, Racing Beat sway bars, J Auto sway bar end links, J Auto pillow balls, Mazdaspeed titanium strut bar, Project Mu 4-pot front big brake kit, Project Mu rear rotors, Mazda Spirit R rear brake caliper brackets, Eccentric Motorsports custom ABS delete hardlines, Eccentric Motorsports full chassis hardline kit, Eccentric Motorsports booster delete, 929 master cylinder upgrade|
|Wheels/Tires:||Volk CE28N Bronze 18x10.5 18j front and rear, Volk CE28N Club Racer II Diamond Dark Gunmetal 18x10.5 22j/15j track spares, Toyo R888r 275/35/18 front and rear, Project Kics lug nuts, Ichiba extended studs, H&R 15mm spacers|