Japan might still be in their winter season but preparations for the 2007 D1-GP season are coming to an end for most teams. This is the case with Suenaga's drift weapon, the RE Amemiya built FD3S, which was shown for the first time a few months back at the Toyo booth during the Tokyo Auto Salon. On top of an unexpected last-minute tire sponsor change from Yokohama to Toyo, it seems the car has gone through a complete remake for this year. We dropped by the RE Amemiya shop a stone's throw from Narita airport to find out more about the new RX-7.
For a family run business, RE Amemiya has achieved some pretty impressive results over the years. In 2006, they achieved a season victory with their Super GT GT-300, but things haven't been going so well in the professional D1 drift championship. Despite Suenaga's best attempts, the team hasn't been able to score valuable points, relegating it to the bottom of the Top 10 list. But for 2007 they've gone full-out, sporting the full Super GReddy body kit displayed on last year's tri-rotor Auto Salon car. Full body conversions like this are usually kept for show cars - cars that spend most of their time being polished, not being thrashed sideways on the track! No drift car has looked as good as this, ever!
No money was spared on this project. On top of being a no-compromise drift machine this RX-7 needed to look good, after all it's a moving, or rather drifting, billboard showing off what RE Amemiya is capable of. The brand new 1993 donor car was built from the ground up. First, it was completely stripped and cleaned up to accept the full welded-in rollcage and chassis modifications to turn it into a D1 contender. After all the stiffening and cutting around the front wheel arch areas, the chassis was sprayed with a few basecoats of baby blue.
The work on the body began by the fitting of the front bumper, which needed substantial modifications to accept the required twin oil-cooler setup (with electric extractor fans), power steering cooler and new-generation V-mount kit. Other modifications included eliminating the position lights, which left two air intakes perfect for brake cooling and an opening to accommodate the tow hook. After deciding that the twin-Xenon Porsche 997 headlights weren't a good choice for a drift car, RE Amemiya built some look-a-like items using IPF reflectors and a bit of ingenuity. The result is simply stunning, especially with the carbon detailing
Next, a lightweight carbon bonnet was done in wet carbon and reinforced from the inside with an FRP frame. One of the D1 mechanics let loose on it with a drill one night after a few beers - the result might not look pretty but it adds to the weight saving! Front wings and side skirts followed next along with the extremely lightweight FRP doors, which feature acrylic windows (fixed for the passenger's side and electric for the driver's side). The widening of the rear end begins with the over-fenders, which grab the low skirt line and create a flowing contour that's taken to the rear bumper. The design of the latter features a low rotor-shaped center section where the reverse light has been positioned. To keep weight down to 1,100kg, the rear hatch is made of FRP and acrylic screen. It's no longer hinged to the body and has to be removed by two people. To finish off the kit, front canards have been thrown in as well as rear carbon items for the rear. The RE Amemiya door mirrors give even more appeal to the overall appearance. The car was sprayed by Amemiya-san himself. New Enkei GTC01 18" wheels wrapped in Toyo rubber were chosen and pushed out with additional spacers to fit under the increased body dimensions.