GOOICHI MO­TORS’ MAZDA RX-7

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GOOICHI MO­TORS REINVENTS THIS MAZDA RX-7 TO BE ONE OF THE BADDEST BUILDS OF ALL TIME

The roots of this ’93 Mazda RX-7 date back to SEMA ’03, when it was built and dis­played by Nitrous Ex­press, and even­tu­ally be­came a Su­per Street cover car a few months later. Fast-for­ward 14 years later and the same FD re­turned to the Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, not with Nitrous Ex­press but front and cen­ter in­side the Au­tome­ter booth with a whole dif­fer­ent look and at­ti­tude: Un­der the hood, in­stead of a nitrous-pow­ered ro­tary was a 1,200-whp tur­bocharged LS; gone is the bright red Hell Rott paint, in its place a sub­dued light “Pistachio” hue, which in­evitably be­came the car’s nick­name; the ex­te­rior had been up­dated from its dated body kit with a Rocket Bunny wide­body; fi­nally, let’s not for­get about all the one-off car­bon and fab­ri­cated bits the FD now sports, which goes to show, this is not your off-the-shelf build but some­thing that’s com­pletely cus­tom and unique. It wowed us so much that last Novem­ber we awarded the man re­spon­si­ble, Sam Mor­ris, as the over­all win­ner in our third an­nual Su­per Street SEMA Awards with Meguiar's. Un­for­tu­nately, the 12-year-long pro­ject still had a few loose ends to tie up fol­low­ing SEMA. Af­ter wait­ing a few months, we flew out to south­ern Florida last spring where we were fi­nally able to visit Sam’s shop, Gooichi Mo­tors, snap some killer pics of the Pistachiofd at Palm Beach In­ter­na­tional Race­way, and put to­gether this fea­ture and in­ter­view, which you’re bound to re­mem­ber for years to come.

What is Gooichi Mo­tors and how’d it all start?

Gooichi started as a mo­tor­cy­cle club. I got busier and busier build­ing bud­dies’ bikes so I de­cided to open up a shop, spe­cial­iz­ing in ev­ery­thing from met­ric chop­pers to show-win­ning Du­catis and turbo GSXR 1000 drag bikes. We’ve been jump­ing around from bikes to cars over the years. The car side has been just as di­verse—1,000-whp late-model Mopars to Sky­lines, Kei trucks, Subarus, and turbo Hon­das—ba­si­cally, any­thing that has an en­gine and can be boosted or cus­tom­ized. We’re also both from Kansas. We had a shop out there for 10 years and then de­cided to get out of the cold and move to south Florida.

When you say “we,” it’s just you and Sab­rina at Gooichi?

Yes, just the two of us. Try­ing to get some of my old guys to move out to Florida, but right now, it’s just me and B. We are a great team. She was into cars when we started dat­ing eight years ago and has just as many screws loose as me. [laughs] She is build­ing her R32 GT-R now and it’s is go­ing to be just as ex­treme as the RX-7!

Now you’ve had the FD for 12 years, but why build it to this level now?

The car has al­ways been a tire killer, but it started 15 dif­fer­ent col­ors and strictly pur­pose built. We kept push­ing the mods far­ther and far­ther, nicer and nicer. I al­ways wanted to push the limit, which pro­longed the build. Nicer parts meant I had to save up more, which in turn made the fin­ish date far­ther away. But I wanted to do it right. When the car got the call for SEMA, it was a bare shell, and it was time to go over ev­ery inch of the car like our show bikes. It is a nice show car some would say, but it’s still pur­pose built, and it’s only this nice ’cause it's new! Just give it some time… I can’t wait for it to start weath­er­ing, melt­ing paint, and get­ting some char­ac­ter.

What the car’s over­all theme?

I wanted to build a raw street­car, some­thing on the verge of in­san­ity. Mo­tor solid mounted; no A/C, in­te­rior, fans or ra­dio; straight cut gears; race sus­pen­sion and trans­mis­sion... I wanted some­thing meant to be driven and to be one with the road.

FDS re­ceive a lot of crit­i­cism for LS swaps. What’s your take and would you have done any other mo­tor? Orig­i­nally, we planned on a Viper V10 swap, but the ex­tra length of the mo­tor meant a good por­tion of the front part would be through the hood. I had a friend who builds race Fer­raris and we al­most did a 360 Mo­dena en­gine with him, but the cost of the mo­tor and the tall height of it just didn’t make sense for the horse­power we would have got­ten. The LS just sim­ply fit. For the price of a stock V10 or Mo­dena en­gine, I could have a fully forged, turbo 1,000-whp LS. And as much as I love and re­spect ro­taries, I sim­ply bought this car as a shell. The LS just hap­pened and I’ve had this mo­tor for over 10 years now. They are great en­gines, and as much hate as they get, there is a sim­ple rea­son why they end up in so many cars. They are a great plat­form, sim­ple, un­lim­ited af­ter­mar­ket sup­port, make great power, and are re­li­able.

Where did the in­spi­ra­tion for Pistachiofd come from?

Nor­mally, it’s a huge de­ci­sion on what color to paint a pro­ject. Black, red, green, white... It’s al­ways a long, drawn-out bat­tle; how­ever, not on this car. I saw the color one day and said, “That’s it!” The name Pistachiofd just kind of hap­pened, too. It’s a nutty color for a nutty car. It’s con­fused—road race sus­pen­sion and trans with a drag car rear end and horse­power level. I re­ally wanted the color to tone down the build. It’s such an ex­treme, raw car on so many lev­els that paint­ing it red or white would just be too much. I feel like the color bal­ances out the build and com­pletes the over­all vi­sion.

How was the road to SEMA and how’d you man­age to make it into the Au­tome­ter booth in time?

The road to SEMA haunts me to this day. We started our shop back up three months be­fore SEMA. I got the call from Au­tome­ter say­ing they might be in­ter­ested in the car, but there was a cor­po­rate choice be­tween a few dif­fer­ent cars. At the time, the car was in a bunch of pieces, ba­si­cally a shell. We fi­nally got the call say­ing they wanted it, so we put ev­ery­thing on hold to get the car done. Such a big op­por­tu­nity for us be­ing a new shop in a new city, we had to make it hap­pen. One month be­fore SEMA, we were hit with a hur­ri­cane and three weeks be­fore, I about cut my fin­ger off! Two weeks be­fore, we were lit­er­ally hit by a tow truck, and just one week be­fore SEMA, we got the car out of the paint booth. Hopped up on pain meds, we got the car to­gether. We were up for three days straight be­fore our dead­line to leave. I had a few bud­dies come in to help us fin­ish it up. We drove 40 hours straight to Ve­gas, and re­ceiv­ing the Su­per Street/meguiar’s Award made ev­ery­thing worth it.

Let’s ad­dress the trolls... The car wasn’t 100 per­cent at SEMA yet, but what were the crit­ics sayin’?

So, the man­i­folds on the car were made eight years ago for a dif­fer­ent set of waste­gates. When we picked up Tur­bosmart as a spon­sor, we switched to their prod­uct. Go­ing from one brand to an­other, the sizes were just sim­ply dif­fer­ent. The new big­ger Tur­bosmart waste­gates barely touched our power steer­ing belt. The en­tire ac­ces­sories kit is from KRC and is ex­tremely cus­tom­iz­a­ble, so we or­dered a smaller pul­ley to help the belt clear the waste­gate. The dis­trib­u­tor sent us the wrong pul­ley three times; the last one was with the wrong spline count. We had to make the de­ci­sion be­tween run­ning the car with no belt, or run it with the belt and let it rub a tiny bit. We weren’t go­ing to be driv­ing it, so that was the bet­ter op­tion. Luck­ily for us, some­one saw the tiny flaw and so­cial me­dia did the rest. Funny thing is, the cor­rect part was wait­ing for us when we got home. Five min­utes later, the is­sue was fixed, cri­sis avoided, and the world is OK for an­other day.

What’s your fa­vorite thing about the car?

The sound. It is so much more than just an LS. The power de­liv­ery comes on hard and the turbo noise, mixed with the scream­ing V-8, mated with the straight cut, road race trans­mis­sion... It sounds so raw and in­tense!

Your FD was at SEMA in ’03 and a Su­per Street cover car in Fe­bru­ary ’04 with Nitrous Ex­press. Do you feel you’ve done the car jus­tice?

I re­mem­ber see­ing this car on the cover when I was in high school. Years later, I stum­bled across the gut­ted shell and picked it up. It was orig­i­nally a huge turbo ro­tary, big wing and pol­ished wheels—a very ’90s look, but very per­for­mance ori­ented still. I think I gave the car jus­tice, and it’s still all about per­for­mance. I’m glad it is back in the lime­light. Very cool to think what it’s been through over the years. If only it could talk! Any last words?

We’ve built ve­hi­cles that have been fea­tured all over the world for years now, but this is the first build that has some se­ri­ous mean­ing be­hind it. Peo­ple in my life who have passed in­spired me to be cre­ative and push bound­aries. This car speaks to who I am as a builder and de­signer. There have been count­less hours and heartache laid out to make this build a real­ity, and I am so happy it is on the road. We need to build cars for our­selves, stop the In­ter­net hate, and re­mem­ber what this is about. Get out and drive, build what makes you happy.

››Pre-pistachio, Sam com­pleted the first stage of his tur­bocharged V-8 setup years ago and at­tended his first drift week­end eight hours away from home—spare tires loaded in the trunk and all!

››Back in the day, this same FD was known as the Nitrous Ex­press RX-7 with 800 hp.

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