The RX-7 is one of Mazda’s most legendary vehicles. Not only did it star in the first-ever Fast and Furious film, but it also encompasses the Japanese marque’s rich history of motorsport within its powertrain. The RX-7’s rotary engine, although tainted by its unreliability, will always hold a place at the peak of motoring innovation.
Sung recently zoomed with a couple of friends, Joey and Sean Lee, to talk about the 1988 FC RX-7 10th Anniversary.
Don't Miss the Latest Episode from our Podcast
Cody Walker, the youngest brother of the late Paul Walker, is a family friend of Sean Lee. The grandparents of Cody’s wife purchased the RX-7 in 1989 – they went out to buy a used pickup truck, but, as fate would have it, came home with the RX-7, too. Since then it’s been driven a total of 1,800 miles with it spending the majority of its life beneath a cover in a climate-controlled garage. Today, the car belongs to Sean Lee, and he is breathing fresh life into the car.
Both inside and out, the car is like-new, with the only real issue being … you guessed it… the rotary engine. According to Cody it doesn’t idle overly well. Apart from this, it runs well and certainly sounds the part. But more importantly, he’s been able to keep it in the family and give this fantastic, low-mileage barn find the cherishing it deserves. Not only is it important to Cody and Sean to use this car as it was intended, but also to keep it as a well-maintained artifact of history.
The Purist Group is a collection of car enthusiasts from all walks of life but with one primary goal: to help the younger generations and positively impact the community. Sean is extremely proud of his active membership in the group especially in light to his own life story. He explains that Purist Groups aren’t about keeping cars stock or close to what the factory intended them to be, but is in fact based around the heart. It’s a place for petrol heads to get together and use their combined resources and interests to help others.
The RX-7 sits in Sean’s storage unit. The interior is as clean as any other car made this year, and when Sean squeezes the bolsters with its intricate stitching, you can see the leather seats are supple. Its headlights are original Cibies, rarely seen these days. The glass is tinted from the factory – not from a tinting film, but by a process that actually darkens the glass. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one highly specced RX.
Opening the rear hatch, Sean takes out an original 10th anniversary bra. Not only is it there, but it’s in amazing condition with the vinyl still remaining soft and pliant. This embroidered feature is irreplaceable. Oh, and just to put the cherry on top of this fine automobile, it has a factory-original Momo steering wheel and gear knob. It doesn’t get better than this. Whoever specced this car was a legend.
Regardless of its incredibly low mileage, the RX-7 has undergone more than its fair share of oil changes thanks to its owners wanting to preserve the engine’s fragile apex seals. As you probably know, Mazda has rid itself of Rotary engines since the RX-8 (although rumors could point to it returning in some way), but this FC is showing little evidence of engine wear. In fact, Sean explains that when you sit in this car and take it for a drive, it acts like a time machine, pulling you straight back into the ’80s when the car was in its prime.
And isn’t that what a car is about? Our love for old cars is way more than just a loud engine. We sink into the soul of the machine when we sit inside it and absorb what they feed our senses. The smell of petrol from an old powertrain, the feeling of agility thanks to their low weight. There are so many factors that allow us to indulge, but what really counts is the reaction we get from others. Doesn’t it feel great to see the nostalgia in an onlooker’s eyes? That’s exactly what this RX-7 does, and soon, Sung’s Oppa will be doing the same thing.
Sean also shares with us a great backstory of the legendary illegal street racing from Japan called the Mid Night Club. To be invited in this club, people raced the Wangan Highway in Tokyo – Wangan translates to Bayside.
They normally tested out the modifications to their cars on the highway since there wasn’t a race track around. A requirement to qualifying your car was to drive at 3ookm/h (or 200mph). It’s all about top speed.
Once in the club, you are awarded with a special Mid Night Club sticker. But if you ever slap a fake sticker on your car, members from the club could vandalize it. Sean was sure to point out that this year’s 50th Anniversary Nissan GTR will be available in Bayside Blue.
It was a pleasure to sit and talk with Sean. We can’t wait to see the rest of his cars next time.
From everyone at Sung’s Garage we wish you strength, courage, and good health.
As always, we send our love and prayers to everyone in the medical profession – doctors, nurses, and first-responders – the boots on the ground fighting this pandemic head-on: THANK YOU.