I really enjoy working on interiors. Probably because it means I'm towards the end of my build. My 20+ year old interior with 140k miles desperately needed work. I wanted to keep it simple.
The Rx7 lacks headroom. If I could go back in time I probably buy an R1 so that I didn't have the sunroof. However it was too late for that. Initially I attempted to modify my seat rails so that the seat could sit lower. After hacking one up I realized it wouldn't work as I wouldn't have access to get all of the bolts in. Fortunately I was able to find someone else selling just the rails. Next I studied the floor board. With some careful cutting I was able to modify the floor boards to lower the seats about 1" in the back and 1.5" in the front. Basically I cut the front cross section out, trimmed it, and welded it back in. For the rear mounts I cut a section out and installed some plates with a grade 8 bolt sticking up as studs. The bolt heads are tacked to the back side of the plate.
The leather on my seats was a little worn. Honestly it wasn't horrible, but I wanted it to look new. Initially I ordered new covers from Interior Innovations but I was not happy with them. They didn't fit right and I noticed that some of the patterns were sewn on in reverse. Fortunately they were easy to work with and gave me a refund after I sent them some pictures.
Then I decided to go with LeatherSeats.com. I have bought from them in the past. I should have just went with them to begin with but I was trying to save a few hundred bucks after spending so much on the rest of the car. The covers came and the material is great. However after installing them I still wasn't 100% satisfied. You can see in the first few pictures that there was excess leather between the bottom center and side sections. I couldn't seem to tuck it anywhere.
So I emailed LeatherSeats.com some pictures. They were a big help. They initially thought it was just an install problem, but told me if I shipped them the bottoms they would install them correctly for me. I did this. A week later I received an email from them saying that they were not able to get them to fit right. They basically admitted it was a flaw in their patterns, but they were going to make it right. They sent the covers through their design team again, made new patterns and sent them back looking perfect! Notice the NoRotor floor mats I also purchased from a seller on the forums.
My gauge cluster works fine so I decided to keep the factory gauges. The factory chrome rings that surround the gauges though are nothing fancy. It's just black plastic with chrome paint. The chrome paint starts to flake and look awful. The chrome rings can be fixed by simply buying a new clear panel from Mazda. But I decided I didn't need the chrome rings. I used some clear plastic polish I had and rubbed the chrome paint with some light pressure until it was all removed. Now the rings are black which I think looks better.
Flash forward a few years and I decided I was unhappy with the factory cluster. It worked intermittently, and the lights on them were very dim. I can't stand bright interior lights at night so that is saying something. I decided to go with Speedhuts. On Black Friday I ordered their fuel, oil pressure, coolant temp, 4" speedometer and 4.5" tach with black faces white lighting. I opted for the normal speedometer vs the GPS one. I read the GPS one can be laggy during acceleration and have problems under bridges.
The gauges came and I began installing (more on that soon). When I tested the lighting I was immediately unhappy. The lighting had a greenish tint to it and was not white. Some of the gauges looked more green than others. I contacted them and they were helpful. Their current gauges use an illuminance panel behind the gauges for lighting. Its equivalent of the eBay style glow face gauges that were popular in the 90's. But they use LEDS in the gauges they make for Holley EFI and eventually have plans to move all their product lines over to LED. They were nice enough to take my gauges back and swap them out to LEDs. Below is a picture to show how they originally looked. They look a million times better with the white LEDS.
As for the install there are typically two ways that it is done. They are both described in thisRX7Club thread. Method one is to simply enlarging the holes in the black bezel. Using this method leaves some of the gauges off center. The black rings on the clear shroud won't be perfectly centered around the gauges. Method two involves elongating and enlarging some of the holes and paying close attention so that the black rings on the clear shroud are centered. While this is better than the first method, it still has a major flaw. The clear lens won't snap down all the way because the gauges stick out some. This leaves the edges exposed and I'd imagine dust could get in and it may want to rattle. So here is what I did. The first 4 steps are essentially Method 2.
Step 1: Take the cluster apart. Remove the factory gauges. Use a Dremel to hollow out the white plastic area. There are some stands and legs that will interfere with the Speedhuts. You need to make room for the gauges. Be careful not to cut the 2 stands for the main screws.
Step 2: Prepare the Speedhuts. Remove the locking collars, the front trim ring and the glass lens. We won't be using them. Be careful not to lose the button pedestals as those will be needed. You'll notice on the front of the gauges there were 2 plastic nubs to align the glass lens. Cut the nubs off with a razor blade.
Step 3: Enlarge and elongate the holes in the rx7 black bezel to fit the Speedhut gauges. As you are enlarging the holes you can stop and temporarily fit the clear lens. It should be obvious what direction the holes need to elongate to get things centered. Don't worry if you Dremel a little too much. With my method it doesn't have to be perfect.
Step 4: Install one gauge at a time. Meaning put one gauge in, then put the lens on. It won't snap on all the way, but it should snap on enough to see if the gauge is centered. You want the black ring on the clear bezel to be centered around the gauge. You may have a little up/down/left/right movement in the gauge based on how much material you removed. Make sure you can move it to where it's centered and add a few dabs of hot glue to the back side to secure it temporarily. Repeat for all the gauges
Step 5: Now everything is centered but the lens won't snap on all the way because the gauges stick up. Take a marker and trace around the Speedhut gauges. Then remove them and Dremel out the holes to your marks. Go slow and be careful. You want the gauges to sit flush with the bezel. When you are done temporarily tack the gauges in place with some hot glue.
Step 6: Now that the gauges are held in place from the front, add glue to the back side to secure them. I used some high heat hot glue. If you use hot glue make sure it has a high softening point. The stuff I used is 230 degrees. It can get upwards of 170-180 degrees in a car if parked in the sun on a hot day.
Step 7: Flip it back over and remove the tacks you had added in step 5. It's normal to have some minor gaps. It depends on how precise you were when enlarging the holes.
Step 8: I used some black RTV to fill the gaps. I was careful applying it. Afterwards I smoothed it out with my finger, and then wiped off the surface with paper towels and some wax and greese remover.
Step 9: This is where we drill the holes for the buttons. I did this at an earlier step before I decided to recess the gauges. But realistically it should be the last thing you do. Install the clear lens. Put it flat on a workbench and look directly over each gauge. You should be able to take a fine point marker and put a mark on the lens directly over each button on the gauge. Remove the lens and carefully drill it. Start with a small bit and work your way up.
Step 10: When you are done clean up the lens and swap the rubber buttons and pedestals over to it. The pedestals for the larger gauges are longer so be sure not to mix them up. Install the lens. You'll have to do do it sideways otherwise the pedestals will want to fall out.
Since my gauge cluster is going to light up with white LEDS, I wanted my climate control to match. I went with mostly white LEDS from BlackCatCustoms.com sells some overlays. I bought black with Clear Lighting. The "Clear Lighting" doesn't show on their website, but if you contact them they'll tell you to just leave it empty and add notes in the comments. Here they are installed.
With the factory dimmer all the way up the buttons with the smaller NEO3 LEDS look perfect. The larger 74-CWHP3 LEDS are too bright though. I decided to dim them by adding a resistor. The 4 power wires to the sockets come from the chip attached to the temperature dial. If you look carefully there is a trace you can cut and add a resistor across. I experimented with different sizes and decided on 270 ohms. I bought a $10 package of resistors on eBay that has every size under the sun.
Here are some pictures of it all installed. The LEDS look great in person. My phone doesn't exactly do them justice. The night picture kind of makes the cluster look like the lights are glaring super bright. Really they aren't.
Here is a video I made throughout the process:
Because my car is a 94 it has the nicer textured plastic trim. The 93 years had a plastic trim with a rubbery surface that rubs/peals off and looks awful. I installed a new shift/e-brake boot from RedLine Goods. I got rid of the factory ash tray too since I don't smoke. I bought a new JDM pad/pocket to replace it. It's basically a mini arm rest pad that opens up for a small storage area. The 2 colored red/orange warning lights are factory. One is for the exhaust temp warning light, and the other is for the alarm. The white text on each light was worn in spots. I used some acetone and lightly rub the rest of the text off. I figured it looks better this way. Also the main armrest portion on my rx7 (the piece this snaps into) would creek when I rested my arm. The plastic underside was cracked. I used 3 mixture tubes of plastic epoxy on the backside to fix the cracks and re-enforce it. It feels a lot more solid now. I haven't figured out what I'm doing yet for the e-brake handle but I do want to eventually replace it. I'm running a Mustang Cobra shift knob as it fits the MGW short shifter and has an oem look to it.
The drivers door has a storage cubby with a thin flimsy lid. It came broken on mine. Normally it's the pins on the lid that are broken. There are some aftermarket aluminum lids. However on mine the actual outer piece that the pin slides into was broken. I figured I wouldn't use it even if it works so I turned it into an armrest pad. I used a piece of foam and some 4 way stretch vinyl to do this. I started by using silicone to glue the cover on. Once it dried I used contact cement to attach the foam. THe vinyl was installed on top of it. I used hot glue on the edges to secure it.
The factory steering wheel looked too retro to me. After searching eBay and the forums I was able to find a JDM Efini steering wheel that someone on the forums has recovered and used red stitching. The nice thing about this wheel is that it's 10mm shorter in diameter. This gives me 5mm more space between my legs and the wheel. It's not a lot but every bit helps. I could have gone with an aftermarket wheel that detaches or has a flat bottom, but I wanted to maintain the airbag.
The car came with some Kicker rear speakers and kicker front speakers. One of the fronts was blow so I ended up buying a new pair. I'm running an old school CDA-9886 head unit. It's probably my favorite head unit. I own 2 of them currently in different vehicles. The car still lacks bass. I went with a simple JL 8w3v3 sub and amplifier. Eventually I want to make my own box that takes up less trunk space. But it was only $20 more to get the JL sub box with the sub. I figure I'll use the box for now.
The passenger side door panel has a grip section that you grab to close the door. It's made entirely of plastic. It's not uncommon for this piece to crack or tear out of the door card. Aftermarket billet aluminum handles are available for $100+. You can also get a new OEM one for about the same price. Mine was cracked to the point where you could feel it flex when pulling the door shut. It was only a matter of time... I fixed it with some plumbers hanger tape as shown in this YouTube video. I can't take credit for this idea. Someone else mentioned doing it a long time ago on the forums. But I think I'm the only one to ever take pictures or a video of how it's done.
My factory hatch shocks would no longer hold the hatch up. Mazda wants $200+ for new shocks which I didn't want to pay. I ended up buying some from RockAuto (Sachs part# SG227005) for $33 shipped. I had to do I little bit of work to make them fit right which I've outlined in this YouTube Video:
I purchased an LED kit meant for the RX7 from Robier33 on ebay. It's replacement LED bulbs for the map lights, glovebox, trunk, and license plates. I haven't swapped the license plate bulbs but everything else looks fantastic.
The factory rx7 comes with an aluminum clutch and brake pedal. The dead pedal and gas pedal is plastic. Or in my case the Pontiac GTO DBW gas pedal needed for my LS swap is a different style gas pedal. GarageAlpha makes a dead pedal that matches the factory brake/clutch design. They also make two different style gas pedals. One is a direct copy of the oem rx7 gas pedal (arm and all) just made out of aluminum. The other is just the pedal and its meant to fit the Camaro DBW pedal. It's curved and matches the contour of the camaro pedal. The GTO pedal I have is less common. I ended up buying the camaro pedal and I was able to weld two tabs onto the back of it to make it fit the GTO DBW pedal. The finish on the GarageAlhpa stuff made my existing clutch/brake pedal look old and beat up. I pulled them and gave everything a quick sandblast using some fine grit media from Tractor Supply.