KADE’S EXCEPTIONAL FD3S7 MAZDA RX7 BATHURST R

Photos and words by: Jordan Leist

The good old COVID tax has fucked it for a lot of us. The prices for some of our most-admired cars have blown out. The stark reality is, the average punter has no chance of securing a classic JDM ride these days. I think we all have regrets about not dropping the hammer on ‘that’ car a few years ago.

If I told you what Kade Stefanatos paid for his 2002 Mazda RX7 Bathurst R three years ago, you would nearly fall over. If I told you what Kade Stefanatos has since spent to get his FD to this level, it would have the same effect. As we all know, we aren’t into modifying cars to make money; it is more about the smiles per mile. Funnily enough, though, I reckon Kade is still ahead when all the dollars and cents are added up in this current climate.

Sure, Kade copped a sweet deal, but what would you expect from an experienced car salesman. He knows a thing or two about piston-powered machines, but he is the first to admit that he had limited knowledge when it came to the force of the Dorito motor back then. “Before the RX7, I was heavily into Nissans. I had owned a couple of R34s and an S14. My brother shared the same passion, so I was happy to stay with the Nissan marque. That was until I spotted the RX7 on Facebook Marketplace. I was intrigued about the rotary side of things, and it was a massive change from the BMW 135i I was punting around at the time.

The car looked pretty good, and the owner told me he had recently installed a rebuilt motor that he was currently running in. After he took me for a lap around the block, with just seven pounds of boost dialled in, I was sold.” explained Kade. The performance of the 13B was enough for him to never look twice at another Nissan.

It was a baptism of fire into the rotary realm for Kade though, because it wouldn’t be a rotary if something didn’t fuck up. “The car started blowing huge amounts of white smoke, which turned out to be the ‘new’ ProBoost turbo the original owner had fitted. I thought that was the main issue, so I purchased a GTX3582R and had the experts at Rotomotion fit and wire up a new Haltech Elite 1500 ECU with all the bells and whistles. After the retune, the issues appeared to had vanished.”

With things looking up for young Kade, he decided to throw caution to the wind and chase some more power for the FD. “I made the switch to a BorgWarner EFR8374 turbo mounted to a Turblown manifold with twin 40mm external gates. At the same time, I upgraded to four 1650cc injectors, bought a Radium Engineering fuel hanger to fix the fuel starvation issue, and three Walbro 460 fuel pumps were added too.”

In a situation that none of us wants to see, the car was on the dyno when the engine lost all compression. It was toast. The rebuild the previous owner had done used the cars original dented rotors and chattered housings. It appeared that the only new parts employed were the apex seals. If you guessed that Kade was pissed, you guessed right.

“I had no choice but to do a complete engine rebuild. The guys at Rotomotion took control of the process, starting with a 12.7mm stud kit, sending off the rotating assembly to Sydney to get balanced, clearancing the rotors and installing the 2mm SCR Power Seals.” At the end of the day, the 13b extend port motor developed a solid 531.6hp at the wheels on Flex-fuel E85. More than enough for street duties.

With all of that new power onboard, Kade decided to throw a fistful of cash at the suspension. With stance a priority, he opted for Fortune Auto 500 Series Coilovers with Air Piston Lift System and a tonne of HardRace components make the twisty stuff even more exciting. Nestled in front of slotted rotors are Kade’s favourite all-time wheel – Work Meister S1 3Ps. These are his third set over the years. Upfront is 18x9s (+22), and the rear wears 18x10s (+18) with Nexen rubber. Project Kics R40 Iconix Neo Chrome Black Alloy Caps add a bit more wank factor for the fanboys.

With a race-inspired cabin from the factory, there weren’t too many upgrades needed in there. Kade settled for a Nardi deep corn 350mm suede steering wheel, FEED handbrake and gearshift boot, and FEED floor mats to match the black with red stitch, Bride Stradia Sport II seats. It wasn’t until the Fortune Auto air pistons that the interior took an about shift.

“Seeing as I needed to fit the dual Viair compressors and a large tank in the back, I decided to do a custom audio install at the same time. There was only one person I considered for the job – Fabian Augustine from Level Up Audio. He is an expert in the field.” The rear cargo area now contains two Audison 10-inch subs and an Alpine PDX V9 five-channel amplifier, as well as the suspension accessories. Ryan Lightbody, a mate of Fabian’s, did a stellar job on the hardlines. In the front doors, Fabian slotted in a pair of Morel Virtus Nano 602 splits. The slimmer woofer was required to fit the factory location. The sound, well, it is exceptional.

The body of the seven is a subtle blend of factory and aftermarket. Carbon fibre is abundant, appearing on the Carbonetics RE-Amemiya pro-style rear diffuser, the Angry Panda Odula-style wing blade, the JJ Carbon Re Amemiya front fender vents, AutoEXE side skirts and URAS GT front lip and, of course, as an insert in the Angry Panda RE-Amemiya style bonnet. Smoked lenses are a neat touch, as is the Car Shop GLOW rear taillight panel.

As much as he likes the look of the car at the moment, Kade still has some plans ahead. “I want to fit a FEED Widebody kit and then give the car a full respray. To accommodate the body changes, I will upgrade to 19-inch Meister S1 wheels and Willwood 6 piston brakes. Then I think I will have achieved my ultimate goal.”

KADE’S EXCEPTIONAL FD3S7 MAZDA RX7 BATHURST R

The good old COVID tax has fucked it for a lot of us. The prices for some of our most-admired cars have blown out. The stark reality is, the average punter has no chance of securing a classic JDM ride these days. I think we all have regrets about not dropping the hammer on ‘that’ car a few years ago.

If I told you what Kade Stefanatos paid for his 2002 Mazda RX7 Bathurst R three years ago, you would nearly fall over. If I told you what Kade Stefanatos has since spent to get his FD to this level, it would have the same effect. As we all know, we aren’t into modifying cars to make money; it is more about the smiles per mile. Funnily enough, though, I reckon Kade is still ahead when all the dollars and cents are added up in this current climate.

Sure, Kade copped a sweet deal, but what would you expect from an experienced car salesman. He knows a thing or two about piston-powered machines, but he is the first to admit that he had limited knowledge when it came to the force of the Dorito motor back then. “Before the RX7, I was heavily into Nissans. I had owned a couple of R34s and an S14. My brother shared the same passion, so I was happy to stay with the Nissan marque. That was until I spotted the RX7 on Facebook Marketplace. I was intrigued about the rotary side of things, and it was a massive change from the BMW 135i I was punting around at the time.

The car looked pretty good, and the owner told me he had recently installed a rebuilt motor that he was currently running in. After he took me for a lap around the block, with just seven pounds of boost dialled in, I was sold.” explained Kade. The performance of the turbocharged 13B was enough for him to never look twice at another Nissan.

It was a baptism of fire into the rotary realm for Kade though, because it wouldn’t be a Mazda or a rotary if something didn’t fuck up. “The car started blowing huge amounts of white smoke, which turned out to be the ‘new’ ProBoost turbo the original owner had fitted. I thought that was the main issue, so I purchased a Garrett GTX3582R and had the experts at Rotomotion fit and wire up a new Haltech Elite 1500 ECU with all the bells and whistles. After the retune, the issues appeared to had vanished.”

With things looking up for young Kade, he decided to throw caution to the wind and chase some more power for the FD. “I made the switch to a BorgWarner EFR8374 turbo mounted to a Turblown manifold with twin 40mm external gates. At the same time, I upgraded to four 1650cc injectors, bought a Radium Engineering fuel hanger to fix the fuel starvation issue, and three Walbro 460 fuel pumps were added too.”

In a situation that none of us wants to see, the car was on the dyno when the engine lost all compression. It was toast. The rebuild the previous owner had done used the cars original dented rotors and chattered housings. It appeared that the only new parts employed were the apex seals. If you guessed that he was pissed, you guessed it.

“I had no choice but to do a complete engine rebuild. The guys at Rotomotion took control of the process, starting with a 12.7mm stud kit, sending off the rotating assembly to Sydney to get balanced, clearancing the rotors and installing the 2mm SCR Power Seals.” At the end of the day, the 13b extend port motor developed a solid 531.6hp at the wheels on Flex-fuel E85. More than enough for street duties.

With all of that new power onboard, Kade decided to throw a fistful of cash at the suspension. With stance a priority, he opted for Fortune Auto 500 Series Coilovers with Air Piston Lift System and a tonne of HardRace components make the twisty stuff even more exciting. Nestled in front of slotted rotors are Kade’s favourite all-time wheel – Work Meister S1 3Ps. These are his third set over the years. Upfront is 18x9s (+22), and the rear wears 18x10s (+18) with decent-sized Nexen rubber. Project Kics R40 Iconix Neo Chrome Black Alloy Caps add a bit more wank factor for the fanboys.

With a race-inspired cabin from the factory, there weren’t too many upgrades needed in there. Kade settled for a Nardi deep corn 350mm suede steering wheel, FEED handbrake and gearshift boot, and FEED floor mats to match the black with red stitch, Bride Stradia Sport II seats. It wasn’t until the Fortune Auto air pistons that the interior took an about shift.

“Seeing as I needed to fit the dual Viair compressors and a large tank in the back, I decided to do a custom audio install at the same time. There was only one person I considered for the job – Fabian Augustine from Level Up Audio. He is an expert in the field.” The rear cargo area now contains two Audison 10-inch subs and an Alpine PDX V9 five-channel amplifier, as well as the suspension accessories. Ryan Lightbody, a mate of Fabian’s, did a stellar job on the hardlines. In the front doors, Fabian slotted in a pair of Morel Virtus Nano 602 splits. The slimmer woofer was required to fit the factory location. The sound, well, it is exceptional.

The body of the seven is a subtle blend of factory and aftermarket. Carbon fibre is abundant, appearing on the RE-Amemiya pro-style rear diffuser, the Angry Panda Odula-style wing blade, the JJ Carbon Re Amemiya front fender vents, AutoEXE side skirts and URAS GT front lip and, of course, as an insert in the RE-Amemiya style bonnet. Smoked lenses are a neat touch, as is the Car Shop GLOW rear taillight panel.

As much as he likes the look of the car at the moment, Kade still has some plans ahead. “I want to fit a FEED Widebody kit and then give the car a full respray. To accommodate the body changes, I will upgrade to 19-inch Meister S1 wheels and Willwood 6 piston brakes. Then I think I will have achieved my ultimate goal.”