Alright – now we’re getting to the big guns. As with many of my older cars, the photographs have essentially been lost to history due to the destruction of many of my former hosting sites and the progress of the internet. Alas, I do have one photo of this bad boy with the original 3-piece wheels.
My inspiration for this purchase was simple – my GSX had plenty of power but handled like a drunken walrus. My Celica has razor sharp handling but a gutless engine, and suffered from FWD maladies. After driving my roommate’s Miata I knew I had to have light weight, rear wheel drive, and lightning reflex handling, but I wasn’t willing to give up that turbocharged surge of power. Boy did I ever find that power right here.
The car was being sold by a “contractor” (this is DC Metro area speak for government employee of a three-letter-agency) who was getting married. His fiancee was the instrument behind the sale. I managed to steal the car from him for a pittance. It had originally been built for track use, although it was still street legal and I ensured that it saw plenty of street activity.
What can be said about this car other than the fact that it actively tried to kill me. Upon taking delivery I immediately floored the throttle with the steering wheel slightly turned coming out of a turn. The ensuing explosion of torque as the turbo wound up broke the 265 rear tires loose as if they were 185s and sent the tail wagging. Luckily, the car was so perfectly balanced and poised I was able to recover easily – this is no testament to my driving skill or lack thereof – in fact, I had little if any driving skill at this point. Rather, it speaks to the wonderful engineering behind the development and placement of the rotary engine in this car.
Built to the hilt, this engine had a gargantuan GT35/40R hybrid setup with dual ball bearings for near instantaneous response – the best part of it all was the transient response and linearity of power delivery. Coupled with a fully rebuilt KD Rotary engine with 3mm apex seals, a street port job (think of this as cams for a rotary engine) and 1250cc injectors blasting fuel supplied from a Supra fuel pump, the car boogied. It had the usual “safety” mods as well, like an upgraded cooling system and front mount intercooler, as well as the KD Rotary anti detonation modification to preserve those fragile apex seals, a full gauge package, a Blitz blow off valve to save the turbo (and provide the cool PSHHH sound) and a fully tuned APEX’i PowerFC to control everything.
But the power wasn’t what this car was about – it was the poise. The previous owner had spared no expense, installing enormous 6-piston Wilwood brakes and APEX’i N1 coilovers – serious hardware with a 1000 lb spring rate and upper pillow ball mounts for filling jarring ride comfort. Suffice to say, cruising through pothole filled Georgetown the car might have looked cool, but the passengers were suffering.
The car had some nifty extra touches – the original owner got rid of the pop up headlights and replaced them with projector style – I personally love the old pop up style headlights on any car, but I do understand the aerodynamic benefits to having a smooth, integrated headlight. Also, the owner installed a very rare JDM back seat for his dogs. I spent plenty of time vacuuming their hair up. There’s no way a human would have fit back there – in fact, we tried once – it just wasn’t going to work. The car also came equipped with two nice Recaro racing seats, though no harnesses. Finally, it had that oh so sweet ventilated carbon fiber hood.
Originally, the car came with some Centerline three-piece forged wheels. I had no idea how valuable these were and let them go for a pittance, replacing them with something much larger in the hopes of taming the massive amount of power the car generated. Unfortunately, even with the stickiest rubber outside of DOT R-compounds (at the time), I couldn’t manage to tame the beast. Unless you were in a high gear with the car pointed straight ahead, it would wiggle. In fact, I remember when I sold this car the potential purchaser (a hick who flew in from Kentucky) actually got the rear squirrely on the highway in 3rd gear.
Why would I sell this car, you would ask? Aside from the fact that I get bored quickly? It was phenomenal to drive, but it was also a dump. While mechanically the car was bulletproof it had some serious issues with the body, electrical, and interior. It was a mid-90s Japanese car after all – not built to the highest standards like something from Germany, and it showed very clearly that it was built with economy in mind – that’s why they cost half of what a 911 does. The net result? As of this writing I own a 30 year old 1981 Porsche 911 in dramatically better shape than this car, which was roughly 10 years old at the time of my ownership. They simply were not built to last. And alas, I had to get rid of it.
The kid who bought it had fond dreams in his eyes, just as I did when I first purchased it. All I could think of when he paid me (more than I purchased it for) was good riddance, and on to the next toy.