Andrew Ilbegi - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1

I was never partial to any car as a kid with the exception of the commonality that kids love the flashy loud things like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.  When I was 11 and saw The Fast and The Furious, something about Dom Toretto's red FD RX7 called to me.

Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1
Andrew Ilbegi  - 1993 Mazda RX7 R1

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Andrew Ilbegi

1993 Mazda RX7 R1

Instagram: @iLBEGi7

Photographer: @Calicarclique

My name is Andrew Ilbegi. I am from Los Angeles, California and I am 31 years old. My profession is accounting. I did taxes for years and now do more generalized accounting and finance. When I am not working, I am either at the gym, doing something car related, or out trying to find the best breakfast burrito and coffee combo. My favourite sport to watch is Formula 1 and my go-to music is rock.

When I was a kid growing up, I loved playing video games. I was not a big car person at the time, but I happened to be the best at racing games. When I say the best, I mean I am better at racing games than first-person shooter games, etc. I was also better than all of my friends at racing games. We are talking about pre-Gran Turismo days when all you had was Mario Kart 64 and then eventually Need For Speed. Once Gran Turismo and Forza came out my love for cars and racing really started to grow.

From playing video games to driving go-karts, to watching driving movies, I was getting obsessed with cars. Car posters started filling up my wall space at this point and then The Fast and The Furious came out, which was the first time I saw car modifications being done. When I saw the cars in the movie with all the gadgets and upgrades, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

If you want to make your car faster, you just add some parts to it and that’s it? I did not know that was a thing! Then the infamous scene of the Toyota Supra spanking the Ferrari came on screen and I was probably the most excited I have ever been. When you’re a kid a Ferrari is the fastest car in the world, right? Keep in mind I am a ten-year-old kid at this time so I would get overly excited about the little things as any kid would.

After the movie, a new video game came out called Need 4 Speed Underground. That game was essentially the game version of The Fast and The Furious, and I got bit by the mod bug. I was seeing things such as stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3 tuning packages. I saw the performance and handling increase in the game and was feeling the difference in how the cars drove. It was so much fun!  That is what started the hype for car modification for me and eventually translated into the real world with modifying and tuning actual cars. To this very day, that excitement is still strong, and that mod bug is still biting harder than ever.


I was never partial to any car as a kid with the exception of the commonality that kids love the flashy loud things like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.  When I was 11 and saw The Fast and The Furious, something about Dom Toretto's red FD RX7 called to me. I did not even know or had a clue, what the car was.  All I knew at the time was it was red, and I liked red sports cars. I was not sucked into the cult that is rotary until 4 years later which is when I got my first ride in one.

A friend of mine that I call a brother, named Randy Teixeira, had an FD and decided to pick me up from school with it. It was black, stock, and pristine; I was so excited to get a ride and had no idea that it would change my life forever. On the drive home, he did a few pulls, and I was in shock. We were not going fast but the way the power was delivered to the rear wheels was something I have never felt before, and do not forget this was just a stock RX7 less a catback exhaust system. As we got on a nice piece of empty road a Mercedes C63 AMG came up fast and I will never forget what came next. It was the most insane ride of my life. With all the sounds from the exhaust, the sequential twin-turbo, and the blowoff valve, I was obsessed with the car. I immediately joined the RX7club, which is still the biggest RX7 forum today, and started researching the car.

I chose this car for many reasons. My first car ever was a 1993 red FD RX7 base model which is the reason why I am partial to many specifics of the 93 model. I prefer the hardtop over the sunroof model as the base model came with the hardtop. I like the tachometer and speedometer of the 1993 over the other models. In 1993 the cluster had additional lines on the speedo and tachometer but in 1994 they made the change for a “cleaner” look with fewer lines. A lot of people prefer that, but I still prefer the look of the 93 clusters.

There are other differences between the 1993 FD and the later models. Some people prefer the newer interior. It is considered to have a nicer finish, but I still prefer the original, and maybe inferior, interior which is why my car had to be a 1993. It had to be red because my first one was red, and I think the FD looks best in red. That car was made to be in red in my opinion.  Now there are only two cars that came like this; one is the base model which I had, and the other is the R1 model.

Some of the differences between those two are the suede seats only come in the R1 model and the base has cloth seats, and the R1 has two oil coolers as opposed to the standard cooler that comes on all cars. All I really needed was a clean black interior, but the R1 package was the goal. I love the suede seats, and the fact that it comes with dual oil coolers makes my future life easier as every rotary owner knows you better not drive an FD with only one oil cooler. A red 1993 with black interior, hardtop, and a 5-speed transmission. This is what I wanted, no exceptions.

Three years after I sold my last black FD the urge to say “forget being financially responsible and have fun” came back. Oh, how does history repeat itself right? I started another search, but a lot had changed in the past few years. FD prices had absolutely skyrocketed! I was searching every other day from Craigslist to Autotrader to Facebook Marketplace, and I was not just searching locally anymore. I was searching all over the country to find the perfect one. On the Facebook marketplace, I saw a gorgeous looking car located near me, but the car was not for sale.  The owner was just selling the wheels and only had photos of them on the car. I messaged him saying forget the wheels, can I buy the car? He said it is not for sale.

The very next day I saw that car for sale on Craigslist, and unlike the post on the Facebook Marketplace, this post was saying the car is for sale. I immediately replied to the post and went on Facebook to message the seller asking what is going on. He said he thought it over and wanted to sell. The seller was a flaky person and he and I went back and forth for a long time. I was very persistent with him until I got tired of him. For almost a year we were going back and forth, and I was over it.  Eventually, he needed to sell the car, and lucky for him he knew somebody who was seriously interested in the car and had cash in hand.  With that said, about 8 months later, we came to an agreement, and he sold me the car in 2019.

I never keep a car stock after buying one. There is nothing against stock cars, but I enjoy modifying cars too much to not make any changes.  I usually start with the same/similar mods (brakes/suspension/exhaust) and go from there.  After selling my last FD RX7 years ago I always asked myself if I were to do it again, what would be different and why. I started thinking of what I would consider the dream build at that point in time because we constantly are going through phases in life. When I was a kid, I wanted racing stripes and neon lights under the car. As I got older, I wanted less of the flash and more of the class. There is no budget and there is no time crunch. I took a pen and paper and started drawing out categories and started populating the buckets until I had a built car in my head. After becoming more realistic I started adding the prices for all of the parts and started cutting back. If there was no budget my car would have a built 3-rotor in it but again we are being realistic, and I have bills to pay (lol).  Once I had the car mapped out, it was just a matter of time until I found the next car (the current FD) and could start putting the plan into action.

When people ask me what does it feel like to own this car, a specific picture comes to mind. Do you know that picture online of a bear surfing on a shark while holding a machine gun? That picture is exactly what it feels like owning an FD RX7, that still has a rotary in it. Google the picture and you will see what I am talking about.

When driving the car, I am completely happy. I do not need to be breaking speed limits on the freeway or taking turns fast in the canyons. Simply cruising the car down a beautiful road make me more than happy. From smelling the fumes to listening to the engine, to feeling the road through the tires and seats is all a perfect combo.  Literally, every single time I take the car out, I catch people taking photos and videos and giving me the thumbs up. Being in the red car is almost like being a celebrity; people who know the car go crazy and just want to get close to you. Even when I see the car parked, I constantly look back at it and smile.

With the RX7's I've had in the past, I would get the occasional wave and thumbs up and I thought that was pretty cool. Now with the red car when I go to car shows I will go look at other cars but always come back to my car and see a huge crowd gathered admiring the car.  This car was done correctly, and the proof is in the pudding.

I think what makes my car unique is its appearance.  The look I went for is what is known as the OEM+ look.  It's simple, but not stock. It's aggressive, but not too flashy.  It's subtle, but not boring. The fact that my car is not stock but not an over-the-top show car is what makes it different.  Most body kits on this car will look good at first but in 5 years they won't stand the test of time and changes will have to be made. Think of any outfit from the 80s where your parents will probably still say it was the coolest trend, but now the trend is dead and looks goofy. I wanted my FD to look good in any decade, and I believe I have done just that.  There are other cars online with a similar build style to mine, so I am not saying my car is the only one like this by any means, it is just rarer and such a refreshing sight to see. Considering the car was made in 1993 and still gets as much attention as it does now almost 30 years later shows that Mazda knew what they were doing when designing this car.

Spec List


  • 1.3L 13B twin-rotor rotary engine which has been given a large street port
  • 2mm Rotary Aviation apex seals
  • Banzai Racing block off plates
  • Full Function Engineering idler pulley
  • Banzai Racing aluminium pulleys
  • Full Function Engineering billet oil pedestal
  • FEED brake reservoir cap
  • FEED oil cap
  • AEM smart coils
  • Haltech Elite 1000 ECU
  • Borgwarner EFR 8374 single turbo conversion with internal blowoff valve and wastegate
  • DEI turbo blanket
  • K&N air filter
  • Full Function Engineering primary and secondary fuel rails
  • Full Function Engineering 1050cc primary injectors
  • Bosch 2000cc secondary injectors from IR Performance
  • Aeromotive 340LPH fuel pump
  • Greddy front mount intercooler
  • 3-inch downpipe from Turbosource
  • Magnaflow resonated mid-pipe
  • Reinhard dual cannonball exhaust with titanium burnt mufflers

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  • B&M short-throw shifter
  • Exedy stage 1 HD clutch
  • Exedy lightweight flywheel


  • OEM 99 spec front bumper
  • OEM 99 spec front “RX7” plate
  • 99 spec front lip from Group A Motoring, wrapped in carbon fibre by HR Performance
  • 99 spec turn signals from Garage Alpha
  • RE-Amemiya AD9 hood from Group A Motoring
  • Aero Catch hood pins
  • OEM 99 spec taillights
  • 99 spec rear wing from Group A Motoring
  • Updated OEM Mazda badges front and rear
  • RE-Amemiya pro diffuser in carbon fibre from Group A Motoring
  • RE-Amemiya centre diverter in carbon fibre from Group A Motoring
  • RE-Amemiya vortex generators in carbon fibre from Group A Motoring
  • FEED side skirts in carbon fibre from Group A Motoring
  • All exterior lighting swapped to LED bulbs
  • 3M 15% window tint


  • OEM JDM Armrest
  • Upgraded interior aluminium door handles
  • Works Bell short hub
  • Works Bell quick release
  • Suede steering wheel from Personal
  • FEED weighted shift knob
  • Floor mats from Garage Alpha
  • Fire Extinguisher from Sakebomb Garage
  • Fire Extinguisher seat mount from Sakebomb Garage
  • Fire Extinguisher quick release from Sakebomb Garage
  • JDM passenger footrest from Sakebomb Garage
  • OEM rear hatch cargo cover
  • FlyRX7 52mm centre dash triple gauge pod
  • 52mm Defi boost gauge
  • 52mm Defi oil temperature gauge
  • 52mm Haltech CAN gauge
  • Pioneer head unit
  • Rockford Fosgate speakers and kicker


  • Volk Racing / RAYS Engineering TE37SL in pressed graphite
  • 18x9.5 +22
  • 18x10.5 +22
  • Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
  • 225/40/18
  • 255/35/18
  • R40 Iconix lugs nuts with wheel locks in Neochrome from Project Kics


  • Fortune Auto 500 series coilovers
  • OEM R1 front strut tower bar
  • Stoptech slotted brake rotors front/rear
  • EBC Yellowstuff brake pads front/rear
  • J-Auto stainless steel and braided brake lines

I do not do the work myself. As I have gotten older, I do not have the time to spend working on the car. I rather pay somebody to do it so I can utilize my time better. If I have the time and am not feeling lazy, I will change the brakes and oil, and minor things under the hood like small upgrades. I learned everything I know by being in the car scene for so long and being surrounded by others who know how to do the work.

  • All engine work/tuning is done by Rotary Power USA in Gardena, California.
  • All bodywork is done by Seven Apple in Torrance, California.
  • All suspension work is done by J-Auto in Upland, California
  • All electronic work (audio, etc.) is done by Integrated Performance in Hawthorne, California.

Future Plans

The next phase of the car will be to change a few of the exterior components. I am planning on adding a carbon fibre Odula insert for the rear wing and changing the front OEM carbon fibre lip to a Mazdaspeed carbon fibre lip. For the engine, I want to change out the Greddy front mount intercooler/radiator setup to the Greddy V-mount intercooler/radiator setup, and then have it polished.

The car will remain a garage queen and a show car. All I do with the car is take it out on weekends to the local cafe or the cars and coffee meet that happen. I have another FD RX7 for the track so there is no need to beat on this one. It is nice to have one that is pristine and one that is rough around the edges.

As far as selling the car, there is not a realistic number a person can give me that will let me be ok with letting the car go. Think of a number that would be crazy to you and most people and I am telling you it is not enough for me to be happy letting the car go. Although I have sold 5 RX7s in the past, I cannot see myself letting the red one go.

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Advice, tips 

The first piece of advice for someone if they are trying to get one of these cars is to ignore everything you have ever heard about them from people who have never owned one. Yes, the rotary engine has horror stories, but I still see videos today on YouTube with false information that I am still upset about.

Listen, I have been in the rotary scene for 14 years, I have learned a thing or two so pay attention closely. Yes, the engine is a little finicky/higher maintenance than your typical piston engine, but it is still a combustion engine. Treat it right and it will treat you right.

When you are buying an RX7, always keep in mind that you are likely (not always) going to have to immediately rebuild the engine. Always get compression numbers and check for leaks. Always see the car startup on a cold start and a hot start. Never go check out the car alone. If you are new to rotary, you must bring someone with you who is experienced with the rotary scene.

Even if your car still has the stock oil metering pump (OMP), I recommend you still premix your car every gas tank. Do you need to? No. Should you? Yes. Everyone has their own opinion, so I am not more right than the other person. You learn these things through experience. If there is only one takeaway from my advice it is this: ignore the horror stories you hear in today's media and ask someone who actually has (or has had) a rotary-powered vehicle.

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I have met some of the greatest people through the car scene.  Every year I make more and more friends; people with the same car or different car but the same passion. These people I talk to on a daily basis. When you are a kid you make friends through school, and as you get older you make a friend at work but do not have much opportunity to make friends in large numbers like you did growing up.

The car scene is where you make a lot of friends and quickly. I meet a new friend in almost every show I go to, big or small. Car shows are a second home and the car scene, in general, is a second family.

Dream Car

When I was in college my dream car was a Nissan GTR R35. I thought the car was great at first and was lucky enough to drive one on a regular basis and became obsessed with the car. After I graduated college and started climbing the corporate ladder, I felt the GTR could not be considered a dream car because it is too obtainable. Car shortage aside, it is not a hard car to get, especially buying in the used market. To me, for a car to be considered a dream car, it has to be unobtainable or so far out of reach that it feels nearly impossible to own.

After I changed my mentality, I discovered a new dream car: The Koenigsegg Agera One:1.  When I first saw it in the documentary called Apex: The Story of The Hypercar, I was immediately obsessed and said that is my dream car. It has to be just like the way I saw it in the documentary, black on silver, with the hint of orange. Stunning, perfection, and a dream to own.

What do you think? leave your comments in the comments section at the bottom of the page


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