For years now, the popular video series Hot Version has been pitting some of Japan's most highly tuned cars against each other. Sponsored touge battles held at the narrow Gunsai roads have become legendary, as triumph here is every bit as much due to driver as car. Becoming "King of the Hill"-as is the winner's title here-has become one of the most coveted accomplishments, and RE-Amemiya has always been one of the strongest contenders. After winning countless battles with their renowned baby blue FD3S, they've officially introduced a brand-new car, one they have named Maou. This retina-piercing, lime-green RX-7 grabbed the touge champion title in 2009, as documented in vol. 102 of Hot Version, and will be trying-like the previous blue machine which claimed Touge Max Champion status in 2006-2007-to dominate time-attack and drift competition in coming years. After seeing the car first hand under the lights of the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year, we tracked down Ken Amemiya for a one-on-one with the soon-to-be-legendary "King Devil", as its name translates in English.
As Amemiya-san explains, the most important quality to mind when building a car for the Gunsai touge is balance. Its narrow tarmac leaves little room for error, and tight turns demand a driver approach with caution and finesse, rather than simply flooring through them with excess power. It is because of this that the strongest competitors at Gunsai more often mimic modified street cars than all-out drift- or time-attack machines commonly found at circuits like Fuji or Tsukuba-don't think it's coincidence that RE-Amemiya built this car in a way to which owners of road-going RX-7s can relate when trying to modify their own cars.
But let's back up a bit, to a time before the green machine was given to the Hot Version team, comprised of the legendary Keiichi Tsuchiya, Manabu Orido, Nobuteru Taniguchi, and Akira Iida. It was Tsukuba where the car's initial testing and shake-down tuning occurred. With feedback from Taniguchi, the car's suspension was finely tuned and mapping of a tried-and-true Power FC ECU was developed to optimize throttle response and power delivery from the buzzing, side-ported, 400hp, freshly rebuilt and balanced 13B underhood. Surprising to some, the stock turbos remain; again, a product of a greater need for throttle response and mid-range torque than peak power. But a smaller turbo setup suffers in the amount of heat it generates, so RE-Amemiya elected to don the space in front of the FD's compact twin-Wankel rotary mill with one of their signature V-mount setups, which positions a custom front-mount intercooler atop a custom radiator, opposed at angles to each other, and to the direction of travel. Incoming air is scooped in from the front bumper's inlet, channeled toward each unit via custom carbon fiber ducting, and then exits the radiator under the car, and the intercooler via vents in the car's hood, while ensuring the intercooler doesn't warm airflow to the radiator, which would otherwise happen with a traditional front-mount setup. The remainder of the system consists of two Trust Airinx filters purify intake charges, and an RE-Amemiya signature Dolphin Tail titanium exhaust. Keeping demo cars road legal is very important to Japanese tuning shops, so a Sports Catalyst from the RE-Amemiya catalog was thrown in for kicks. And of course, the drivetrain had to be strengthened with a Sports Clutch Kit and limited-slip differential, also from RE-Amemiya.