AXE’S HLK20B ROCKET BUNNY RX7// AUGUST FEATURE

Photos by: Black Market Media | Words by: Ian Lee

The FD RX7 is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically crafted automotive machines to have been produced from Japan. From the swooping body lines to the sleek bonnet, the FD has a timeless shape that even by today’s standards deserves your attention. It’s hard to believe that these cars are almost 30 years old and still turn heads the same way they did when they were released in Japan back in 1992. When released, the FD was an instant hit with the automotive community and journalists flocked to write about it. It was from one of these magazines that Axe Soydas recalls first laying eyes on the car, flicking through the pages for more photos and knowing that he had to own one; it was love at first sight.

The modifying scene for these cars exploded throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Re-Amemiya, Fujita Engineering (Feed), R Magic, Mazdaspeed, TCP Magic and Veilside are just a few of the many companies that erupted into the FD scene, each creating their own unique flagship car sporting some of the most iconic body kits of the 90’s in combination with impressive handling and power mods. By the time Axe was able to buy his first FD in 2003, a number of subsequent Tokyo Auto Salons provided ample inspiration for how he was going to make his own FD into something unique.

After getting an understanding of the ins and outs of the FD, Axe set the goal to create a three rotor, 20B powerhouse. Not an easy feat by any means as we’ll go into detail later, but Axe knew that if he was going down this path, it was going to be done once and done right. So after committing to this vision, He sold his car and went on the hunt for the perfect, unmodified, blank canvas – ‘Granny spec’. In 2014, by some stroke of luck he was able to find a unicorn that hadn’t even had a pod filter or exhaust on it (what kind of sociopath buys a JDM car and resists modifying it?!).

With the canvas obtained, Axe remembers driving it home and immediately stripping the car back to the bone. Out went the interior, motor and most body panels. With the jigsaw pieces all laid out in front of him Axe spent the next 4 years slowly reassembling, replacing, improving and creating the car you see today aka HLK20B.

Let’s start with the obvious and what you are probably most interested in; the motor. For context, the most common Mazda rotary engine is the 13B and comprises of 2 rotors. This is what the RX7’s came factory with. A 20B gets you 3 rotors and for their Le Mans race cars (although some people are crazy enough to put these into street cars), Mazda also made a 26B with 4 rotors. 20B engines while not common to come across are actually factory produced by Mazda and were put into Eunos Cosmos; a pretty forgetful car aside from the power plant.

With the motor in hand, Axe got to work figuring out how to fit it into the car. Despite the large engine bays that the FD’s come with, 20B’s surprisingly don’t fit that easily. The added length of a third rotor coupled with the low, and aggressive bonnet line of an FD means that the motor actually sticks out 15cm which prevents the bonnet from being closed. To address this, Axe had to get a custom sub frame fabricated along with a new steering rack and arms to cater for the larger motor to drop within the engine bay.

While Axe was waiting for the engine mods and other fabrications to be completed, he took this as an opportunity to jazz up the engine bay by shaving and plugging all the unnecessary holes, brackets and mounts. To hide the larger items like the ABS and wiper motor, these were tucked behind the dash to ensure when you looked into the engine bay there was nothing to distract you from admiring the polished 20B. A COMP CT6X Turbo takes full advantage of the extra exhaust gas produced from the 20B with excess boost being passed through a 66mm precision wastegate. Nothing beats the sounds of a rotary on gate, right!

A Carbonetic triple plate clutch and OS Giken 5 speed gear set was sourced and assembled as the transmission of choice for the car. Axe says he opted for the Carbonetic clutch to get a smoother, less aggressive driving experience.

While the car is still on run-in tune, Axe is expecting the car will join the 1000hp club after a full tune can be applied. A Microtech LT16C ECU was selected to manage the operations of the car which as part of the process of installation required Axe to create a bespoke wiring harness to cater for the 20B.

The colour and pumped up Rocket Bunny bodykit make for a pretty strong rationale for the choice of number plates. However Axe’s choice of colour was actually inspired by an earlier toy he owned which was a Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R. These bikes come famously in an eye catching metallic green from factory and it gets just as much kudos being on this FD.

Complementing the primary metallic green on the body, Axe decided to go with an assortment of discrete carbon parts such as the rear diffuser, door handles, ducktail spoiler and pretty much the entire cabin of the car. The carbon fibre bonnet which has been painted except for the vents are also a really nice touch to break up the green on the car. Sitting flush against the widened guards of the car are a set of SSR Professor SP1’s sized at 20×11 in the rears and 20×9.5 in the front. These massive wheels are wrapped in 305 tyres to make sure that there will be plenty of traction to handle the big horsepower that will come. To bring the car to a halt after some cheeky runs in Mexico, are a pretty rare Brembo GT brake kit which was sourced from the UK and includes a pair of massive 6 pot piston brakes and some equally massive rotors up front.

Rounding off the car is the interior which has been designed to both look good and be functional. A sea of carbon fibre and alcantara wrapped dash panels modernise the interior and give it almost a supercar finish. Keeping true to the theme of the car is the subtle green highlights used in the stitching for the Nardi wheel, Bride seats and dashboard. The analogue cluster has been swapped out for a Microtech 7” digital dash which has been moulded seamlessly into the cluster shroud which only further accentuates the fighter jet style cockpit the FD’s already come with.

Unlike other coupes with a closed, separate boot, the FD’s come with a massive rear window and hatch that is publicly on display. Rather than tinting the rear window and leaving the boot factory, Axe made sure that when people looked into the rear of the car, it was just as exquisitely modified as the rest. Inside you’ll find two massive subwoofers that have also been custom moulded in carbon fibre to fit the shape of the boot. The alcantara treatment continues in the boot itself, highlighting the attention to detail on this build.

Axe would like to thank HPRE for their mechanical and electrical work; Kairouz Kustoms for all the body and paint work; AEA Auto Upholstery; Gearbox Masters and Westside Mufflers for their long term support throughout various stages of the build.

The FD RX7 is undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically crafted automotive machines to have been produced from Japan. From the swooping body lines to the sleek bonnet, the FD has a timeless shape that even by today’s standards deserves your attention. It’s hard to believe that these cars are almost 30 years old and still turn heads the same way they did when they were released in Japan back in 1992.

When released, the FD was an instant hit with the automotive community and journalists flocked to write about it. It was from one of these magazines that Axe Soydas recalls first laying eyes on the car, flicking through the pages for more photos and knowing that he had to own one; it was love at first sight.

The modifying scene for these cars exploded throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Re-Amemiya, Fujita Engineering (Feed), R Magic, Mazdaspeed, TCP Magic and Veilside are just a few of the many companies that erupted into the FD scene, each creating their own unique flagship car sporting some of the most iconic body kits of the 90’s in combination with impressive handling and power mods. By the time Axe was able to buy his first FD in 2003, a number of subsequent Tokyo Auto Salons provided ample inspiration for how he was going to make his own FD into something unique.

After getting an understanding of the ins and outs of the FD, Axe set the goal to create a three rotor, 20B powerhouse. Not an easy feat by any means as we’ll go into detail later, but Axe knew that if he was going down this path, it was going to be done once and done right. So after committing to this vision, He sold his car and went on the hunt for the perfect, unmodified, blank canvas – ‘Granny spec’. In 2014, by some stroke of luck he was able to find a unicorn that hadn’t even had a pod filter or exhaust on it (what kind of sociopath buys a JDM car and resists modifying it?!).

With the canvas obtained, Axe remembers driving it home and immediately stripping the car back to the bone. Out went the interior, motor and most body panels. With the jigsaw pieces all laid out in front of him Axe spent the next 4 years slowly reassembling, replacing, improving and creating the car you see today aka HLK20B.

Let’s start with the obvious and what you are probably most interested in; the motor. For context, the most common Mazda rotary engine is the 13B and comprises of 2 rotors. This is what the RX7’s came factory with. A 20B gets you 3 rotors and for their Le Mans race cars (although some people are crazy enough to put these into street cars), Mazda also made a 26B with 4 rotors. 20B engines while not common to come across are actually factory produced by Mazda and were put into Eunos Cosmos; a pretty forgetful car aside from the power plant.

With the motor in hand, Axe got to work figuring out how to fit it into the car. Despite the large engine bays that the FD’s come with, 20B’s surprisingly don’t fit that easily. The added length of a third rotor coupled with the low, and aggressive bonnet line of an FD means that the motor actually sticks out 15cm which prevents the bonnet from being closed. To address this, Axe had to get a custom sub frame fabricated along with a new steering rack and arms to cater for the larger motor to drop within the engine bay.

While Axe was waiting for the engine mods and other fabrications to be completed, he took this as an opportunity to jazz up the engine bay by shaving and plugging all the unnecessary holes, brackets and mounts. To hide the larger items like the ABS and wiper motor, these were tucked behind the dash to ensure when you looked into the engine bay there was nothing to distract you from admiring the polished 20B.

A COMP CT6X Turbo takes full advantage of the extra exhaust gas produced from the 20B with excess boost being passed through a 66mm precision wastegate. Nothing beats the sounds of a rotary on gate, right!

A Carbonetic triple plate clutch and OS Giken 5 speed gear set was sourced and assembled as the transmission of choice for the car. Axe says he opted for the Carbonetic clutch to get a smoother, less aggressive driving experience.

While the car is still on run-in tune, Axe is expecting the car will join the 1000hp club after a full tune can be applied. A Microtech LT16C ECU was selected to manage the operations of the car which as part of the process of installation required Axe to create a bespoke wiring harness to cater for the 20B.

The colour and pumped up Rocket Bunny bodykit make for a pretty strong rationale for the choice of number plates. However Axe’s choice of colour was actually inspired by an earlier toy he owned which was a Kawasaki Ninja ZX10R. These bikes come famously in an eye catching metallic green from factory and it gets just as much kudos being on this FD.

Complementing the primary metallic green on the body, Axe decided to go with an assortment of discrete carbon parts such as the rear diffuser, door handles, ducktail spoiler and pretty much the entire cabin of the car. The carbon fibre bonnet which has been painted except for the vents are also a really nice touch to break up the green on the car. Sitting flush against the widened guards of the car are a set of SSR Professor SP1’s sized at 20×11 in the rears and 20×9.5 in the front.

These massive wheels are wrapped in 305 tyres to make sure that there will be plenty of traction to handle the big horsepower that will come. To bring the car to a halt after some cheeky runs in Mexico, are a pretty rare Brembo GT brake kit which was sourced from the UK and includes a pair of massive 6 pot piston brakes and some equally massive rotors up front.

Rounding off the car is the interior which has been designed to both look good and be functional. A sea of carbon fibre and alcantara wrapped dash panels modernise the interior and give it almost a supercar finish. Keeping true to the theme of the car is the subtle green highlights used in the stitching for the Nardi wheel, Bride seats and dashboard. The analogue cluster has been swapped out for a Microtech 7” digital dash which has been moulded seamlessly into the cluster shroud which only further accentuates the fighter jet style cockpit the FD’s already come with.

Unlike other coupes with a closed, separate boot, the FD’s come with a massive rear window and hatch that is publicly on display. Rather than tinting the rear window and leaving the boot factory, Axe made sure that when people looked into the rear of the car, it was just as exquisitely modified as the rest.

Inside you’ll find two massive subwoofers that have also been custom moulded in carbon fibre to fit the shape of the boot. The alcantara treatment continues in the boot itself, highlighting the attention to detail on this build.

Axe would like to thank HPRE for their mechanical and electrical work; Kairouz Kustoms for all the body and paint work; AEA Auto Upholstery; Gearbox Masters and Westside Mufflers for their long term support throughout various stages of the build.