I’ve been watching TJ Hunt’s YouTube channel since 2015 or so, and it’s been fun following his growth over the years. I’ll fully admit that I haven’t seen every video that he has uploaded, but I have been paying very close attention to all of his projects. Not all of his builds have interested me, and as soon as he started working on his RX-7 in 2016 I basically rolled my eyes and skipped over all that content. It’s true. I was never much of a fan of TJ Hunt’s RX-7.
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My love / hate relationship with TJ (eeew!)
The issue is that I’ve never really been a very big fan of TJ’s modification style. Widebodied cars sitting on bags were never my thing, and I was very much afraid that he was going to do that to his RX-7. His BRZ build didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would, and I just didn’t have the patience to sit through another one of his crazy hack jobs.
Interestingly enough, that all changed about a month ago. I was sitting on my couch going back through some of his old videos just for fun, and I stumbled upon the video of him purchasing that clapped-out RX-7 way back in 2017.
It all snowballed from there, and I ended up binge-watching the entire build series over the course of the next two weeks. Now, it’s not very often that I will admit when I’m wrong, but I will in this case. The TJ Hunt RX-7 is a beautiful car inside and out. He did a very good job on it, and now that I’ve seen the entire build process, I can appreciate the time, effort, and money that went into it. It’s a car that I would love to have my own driveway for sure!
Full parts list for the TJ Hunt RX-7
Since I was watching the entire build from the beginning, I figured it might be fun to jot down a list of all the parts that went into it. I don’t build cars myself, but I love stats, and I know that this information could be very useful to other RX-7 owners out there.
A few things to note about the car itself:
- It’s a 1994 Mazda RX-7 FD
- It had the stock 13B rotary engine
- Bought it on August 13, 2017 from Miramar Automotive (in San Diego, CA)
- It had 111,111 miles on it
- It ran but smoked – was barely drivable
- Had an automatic transmission
- Tan leather interior
- License plate was 6YVG612 (last registered in 2013)
- TJ offered $4800 but the seller got pissed – so TJ countered with $5300 (the guy wanted $5500)
- It wouldn’t go over 2000rpm first time he drove it
- TJ wasn’t planning to buy this car -he basically made the decision within a 12-hour span
- He also wanted to start with one in better condition
- He ultimately wanted a car to replace the GTR he had at the time. Was thinking NSX, RX7 or a Mustang.
- This ended up being a 13 month build
There are several things I need to clarify before we get to the actual parts list: first, it was impossible to get details of every little part that went into this car. Everything listed below is what TJ specifically mentioned (or what I could see in the videos). That being said, I feel as if I’ve got a solid list of all of the major components. And a fascinating list it is indeed:
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- RE Amemiya hood – it fit, but it hit the stock air box and required some modification. Clay from Final Form helped him procure and order parts from Japan.
- Car Shop Glow tail lights – with the upgraded board which featured the “chasing” light pattern
- Car shop glow 3rd brake light
- RE Amemiya Sleek headlights
- LASFIT LED bulbs
- RE Amemiya front bumper (N105) – with Car Shop Glow bumper lights (v1 version). He had custom carbon fiber under sweeps built into it (to match the other version of this bumper, which would have taken him too long to get (the car was going to SEMA 2018 and this needed to be done before that). Work was done by @slick_carbon
- Had to order 2 doors even though he only needed the left – they were JDM spec, so he had to convert to US spec (which took a while)
- Craft Square carbon fiber side mirrors (from Japan – ordered through Final Form)
- Painted by LT motorwerks – Audi white (he wanted a classic 90’s JDM look)
- Feed carbon fiber side skirts (3.5”)
- Leg Sport carbon fiber rear wheel flares (sourced by Clay at Final Form)
- Stock rear bumper lights
- Carbon fiber side vents
- Wing came from Tuned in Tokyo (Mazdaspeed OEM wing)
- ODULA center carbon fiber section for the OEM wing
- Ordered factory door and trim moldings from Mazda
- FD Amemiya rear defuser (carbon fiber version) – which took 3 months to order from Japan. Ouch!
- Seats: reupholstered stock seats in leather and suede with a Hunt & Co logo in headrest (he had to buy a new pair because he threw his original ones away). All work done by SOS Customz in Oceanside, CA. Note that he was planning to use Sparco seats which cost $3300 each, but they didn’t fit.
- Sparco Champion steering wheel
- Haltech gaugeART CAN gauge (HT-061010) – an all-in-one dashboard gauge that does boost pressure, AFR, coolant temp, fuel pressure, ethanol content
- Black aftermarket interior carpet
- Battery re-located to interior of car (in cubby behind passenger seat)
- Sony head unit
- Speakers: Kicker Audio 300W Peak CSC65
- He wanted to keep the stock Bose system in the trunk but wouldn’t fit with bag suspension management system (the tank and lines took up too much space)
The engine in TJ Hunt’s RX-7 is a 600hp (450hp on pump gas) work of art in my opinion – and that says a lot considering that I’m not into rotary engines at all. For those that are curious, it took TJ and his crew 10 hours to pull the stock motor, and they did it all in one day. Impressive!
- Built by PPRE in Wanganui New Zealand
- 13B 2 rotor – 3.5 month build
- OEM block
- Stage 2 bridge porting
- Custom intake, exhaust manifold, and intercooler
- Downstar bolt dress up kit
- Flex fuel capable (pump gas or E85)
- 1650cc primary injectors / 2400cc secondary
- 60mm wastegate
- Garret 4088 turbo
- Haltech ECU
- Dual DW fuel pumps
- AN fuel line fittings
- Surge tank (goes from stock fuel tank to surge tank to engine) – because this engine needs a lot of fuel, yo.
- Exhaust came from PPRE as well
Suspension and brakes
- Universal Air struts (bagged suspension)
- Accuair endo CVT system (for bag management)
- Two 3-gallon air tanks
- Running height sensors – not pressure sensors
- 6-piston Wilwood brakes (front only – no rear big brake kits available for RX-7)
- Got a stock manual transmission from JDM of California (thanks David!)
- Rear differential and driveshaft came from JDM of California as well
- Twin disc clutch
- RE Amemiya short shifter
Wheels and Tires
- 1st set of wheels: HRE 540 mesh style (custom build)
- 1st set of tires: Falken Azenis RT615K (245/40R18 97W front, 275/35R18 95W rear)
- 2nd set of wheels: Volk TE 37 SL (mag blue) 255/40R18 front – unsure about the size of the rears however
- 2nd set of tires: Yokohama Neova tires
- Kics CL53 lug nuts (black)
Because I want to make this parts list for TJ Hunt’s RX-7 as complete as possible, please feel to reach out to me if you know of anything else that I may have missed.
How much did TJ Hunt’s RX-7 cost?
As you saw in the parts list above, the car itself cost $5300. However, TJ never publicly admitted how much money he dumped into the entire build, so all we can do is estimate based on what the car ended up being.
For the record, I’m estimating a total cost of about $80,000. My reasoning for this is as follows:
- TJ hired Mickey (from Throtl) to help with the build, and he put a lot of hours into this car. Labor is not cheap, and based on how long this build took – I’d estimate that TJ paid Mickey at least $20k for his time. Maybe even $30k.
- The engine was custom built by PPRE in New Zealand, which couldn’t have been cheap. However – I’d imagine that PPRE gave TJ a very good deal to be a part supplier for this car (it was very good publicity for them). Let’s just say…$10k for the engine?
- The car was painted by LT Motorwerks, which is a high-end shop in the LA area. TJ had to have paid at least $10k for the paint and bodywork.
- Along with the price of the car, that’s $55,000 – which doesn’t include all of the other components needed to complete the build.
The remaining $25,000 of my estimate is a very conservative cost of all the components that I listed above earlier in this article. Some of that RE Amemiya stuff can get pricey, especially when importing it directly from Japan.
Timeline of the TJ hunt RX-7 build
As I noted above, it took just over 13 months for TJ and his crew to build this car. The following is a timeline of the major milestones. Note that these are the dates that the associated YouTube videos were published – not necessarily the exact dates the events happened:
- August 13, 2017: Purchased the car
- October 3, 2017: the first parts (taillights) are installed
- October 26, 2017: the first major body component (the hood) is installed
- December 23, 2017: pulled out the stock engine
- January 31, 2018: the RX-7 is finally set off to get painted!
- March 6, 2018: paint and bodywork complete
- March 22, 2018: started installing the Accuair bag setup
- March 29, 2018: flew down to New Zealand to see the new engine (being built by PPRE)
- May 24, 2018: the start of the engine installation process
- June 16, 2018: the first startup
- August 15, 2018: the inaugural drive
- September 2, 2018: installation of the custom HRE wheels
- October 17, 2018: registered it for the very first time
- November 6, 2018: transmission problems! Had to swap in a new manual gearbox.
- November 12, 2018: installed TE 37 wheels (which came from his Supra build)
The end? Knowing TJ, probably not…
Why this RX-7 build changed my opinion about TJ hunt
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’ve never been a mega TJ Hunt fan. Yeah, I’ve been watching his content off and on for years, but It got to a point where I couldn’t watch everything due to his obsession with widebody kits and air suspension. That’s not my scene at all, and it was just getting too repetitive for me.
When this RX-7 build started, I remember watching that first video where he bought the car thinking something along the lines of “oh great – here we go again.”
I was expecting him to cut up that car into pieces, transforming it into and obnoxiously bagged and widebodied monstrosity that she was starting to become known for. Thankfully, I was wrong about TJ, and this entire build series taught me not to make ignorant assumptions.
Even better, his very next build (the Mustang GT) was low-key and clean as well.
TJ Hunt’s RX-7 was the first build of his where he showed maturity and restraint:
- Maturity in the sense that he kept saying over and over that he didn’t want to rush anything. He wanted this car to be perfect, and he took his time doing everything the right way.
- Restraint in the sense that he chose not to go wild and crazy with everything. His goal right from the beginning was to do a clean and (mostly) subtle build, and by the time he got to the end, that’s exactly what he had achieved.
TJ learned a lot during the 13 months it took to build this car, and by the time he was finished he was a completely different person in my opinion. The car was exceptionally clean and well thought out, and it seemed as if he knew when to much was going to be too much. Instead of going crazy with an extremely gaudy widebody kit, he chose to be more subtle and use bits of carbon fiber aero where it made the most sense.
Yes, he did end up bagging the car with an Accuair kit, but he didn’t go crazy with it. Thankfully, this RX-7 didn’t end up sitting on extreme amounts of camber, which made this traditional old (and mostly boring) guy really happy to see.
Well done, TJ. Very well done.