True To Its Roots: Calvin Wan’s D1 Inspired RX7
For anyone that has followed American professional drifting, the evolution from its roots in Japanese imported D1 demos to the spectacle of a modern Formula Drift competition is somewhat bittersweet. While the combination of low weight and big V8 power of today’s cars is undeniably entertaining to watch, there exists a disconnect between the competition cars of today with their more pedestrian relatives filling up the nearby parking lots. And although this disparity is nowhere close to the near-anonymity of NASCAR’s “stock cars”, their relativity for grassroots drifters and fans is diminishing. But with the stands full, is there any reason to try and hold these cars back? Is there value in preserving OEM integrity?
Calvin Wan, a professional drifter himself, has owned and maintained this RX-7 as a testament to the original D1 Grand Prix street style that existed in Japan around the time that American drifting really got it’s start. The car was purchased as a replacement to his red FD that he wrecked in the inaugural 2003 D1 Grand Prix USA. He contends, “The theme of the build is 2005 Japanese D1 Grand Prix style, where the competition drift cars are basically built up street cars keeping the original spirit of the car. This type of setup involves running unmodified unibodies, OE interior panels, built up OE engines, and keeping as much street amenities as possible while being able to run competitively . . .” While Calvin never intended for this car to be his primary Formula drift competition car, the FD has served as a back-up to his Falken RPS13 and G35.
Calvin admits that most difficult aspect of owning and racing this car has been maintaing a balance between his commitment to keeping his intended street style of this car and keeping the car competitive. He argues, “In order for cars to be competitive nowadays, you need to cut off as much sheet metal as possible to shave weight, 600+hp with tons usable torque (aka V8 power), retarded amounts of steering angle, quick change rear ends, modified suspension geometry to gain traction, etc. So for my car to be able to compete with todays drift cars, I would have to trash everything and rebuild an entirely new RX-7 without any trace of an FD3S soul.” And perhaps that point lies at the heart of the issue. At what point in a car’s modification does one lose the soul of the car? Is that even possible? Should that even concern us? Ultimately, context should and will determine the answer to those issues. Formula Drift is meant to entertain, so I’m not sure that anyone in that arena should ever shy away from making a car faster, lighter, and smokier. But cars like Calvin’s FD deserve a place in this scene; they preserve a moment in the sport’s history that’s worth remembering, and that should serve as inspiration to grassroots and pro drifters alike. Cars like this keep us grounded, tied to our roots, reminding us that we can take our beaters, yank the e-brake, and drive like a bat outta hell.