From Ashes: Bill Allred's RX-7
A few years back, Bill Allred bought himself a beautiful 1994 Mazda RX-7. With black paint, large wheels, and a seriously aggressive aftermarket hood, it looked downright angry. He hadn't had the car all that long when he had a slight problem. The car suffered a fuel leak. And then it caught fire. Ok, maybe "slight" wasn't a great choice of words. When all was said and done, Bill's killer new toy was a burnt-out husk and almost everything forward of the seats was completely destroyed.
There was a bright side, though: the block was still in good shape. After much deliberation, Bill decided to rebuild the car. That decision was definitely helped by an offer to display his car in a vendor booth at the Chicago Auto Show. Chicago puts on one of the premiere auto shows in the world and it wasn't an opportunity to be missed. He began sourcing parts and doing the hard work of rebuilding the interior and most of the engine bay. While Bill began working on that, Zach at Cliff's Auto Body got to work on the paint, a custom shade of blue that must have induced whiplash in at least a few people. (We couldn't even get through the photo shoot without someone driving up to tell Bill how much he loved the car).
Other than the paint, though, Bill decided to keep the exterior subtle. The car rides on Forgestar F14 wheels, 18x9 in the front and 18x10 out back, wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sports. A Roninspeed rear wing and Shine Auto Project sideskirts round out the minimal body enhancements, and a set of Sake Bomb HID headlights help to modernize the dated halogen tech under those iconic pop-up headlights.
Under the hood, all pretense at subtlety is abruptly shattered. A massive Borg Warner S400-75 turbo dominates the landscape, forcing pressurized air into the rotary engine through a Precision Turbo front-mount intercooler. Nearly everything is modified, from the Xcessive lower intake manifold and oil pan, to the CJ motorsports fuel rails, to the Adaptronic e440 ECU. The Aeromotive FPR survived the fire and remains in place now. An Exedy Twin carbon clutch helps get all that power to the ground.
Inside the car, Bill installed a Bubbletech dash and switch panel, along with a bevy of guages, a Windows 10 tablet, and a Clarion digital 4-channel amp. The seats are OEM suede and they are complemented by a set of LRB door panels and rear bin delete.
On the photography side, shooting this car at night was a no-brainer. That metallic blue paint simply pops under the lights and the grungy parking garage interior was a great contrast to the insanely clean Mazda. Location choice is always a big part of planning any shoot, and it really paid off this time. Rather than strobes, I decided to use an LED panel to paint the car with light using long exposures. This is a time-intensive process, but the results are always worth the effort.
After many late nights, Zach and Bill finished up their work and managed to get the RX-7 ready for display at the Auto Show. Of course, it's been an ongoing project since then and Bill still has more plans for the street car. Only time will tell just how extreme this phoenix will get.
Keywords: automotive, boosted, f14, forgestar, forgestar f14, HKS, import, jdm, mazda, michelin, performance, rotary, rx7, turbo
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