Cold and bright was the morning as I departed for Kawaguchi Station. The warmth of the sun felt nice, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed in the clear weather. After weeks of overcast mornings, the day I was to shoot Saito’s FC, the sun just had to be shining with vengeance.
As I arrived at Kawaguchi, I made my way up to the second level that served as a pedestrian walkway crossing over the entanglement of streets below the station. I walked around a bit in an attempt to find a decent setting to photograph the car without interrupting traffic too much. Neither Saito nor I were familiar with the area, it was just sort of a halfway point for us to meet. It wasn’t long after that I saw in the distance, Saito driving the FC toward the pickup cue on the street level.
As the older Mazda drove in and out of the harsh lighting, I did my best to showcase the warm, subtle color of the FC’s one-off paint color. Straight out of the camera, the car appeared 3 or 4 different colors depending on how it was exposed; a cool, blueish grey, to a temperate golden brown. The end result of processing the set became an uncommon palette of mellow, subdued tones of oranges, neutral browns and greys dependent on our location.
Saito purchased his FC in August of 2015. Almost eight years later he has developed quite the reputation on Twitter, with many loyal fans following his build from the start.
Saito’s perceived coolness of Mazda’s FC3S chassis came on at an early age when he was attending elementary school. Watching the popular anime Initial D, he saw the character Ryosuke Takahashi drive the FC3S, and from that moment, he knew he wanted to own one himself. Saito’s dream came true when he finally purchased a white FC3S, similar to the one driven in the anime.
He would slowly modify the white FC to be used as a dual purpose car; a track build that wouldn’t sacrifice his enjoyment of street driving the car. I think this is a balance many enthusiasts attempt to strike.
Saito enjoyed driving the FC on mountain roads and circuits for years in this state, pushing the car to its limits, and learning about car control. Keeping the 13B normal spec was crucial to maintaining the reliability he sought. Using an HKS F-Con V Pro and Profec Boost controller, the boost was increased on the stock turbine, resulting in a healthy 270ps. HKS front mount intercooler and Intake helped with air flow and a one-off muffler expels exhaust out the rear. A Cusco LSD and ATS twin carbon clutch ensures that all the power is useable.
Inside the car the treatment was similar; small but meaningful changes that improved Saito’s driving experience. An array of Defi gauges help him monitor the cars vitals cruising around town and on track. A Bride VIOS III bucket seat paired with a TRS 4 point harness keep him secure, and the 10 point Cusco roll cage helps stiffen the old chassis and provides an element of safety for the circuit.
Saito ensured that he got as much as he could from the car before making any serious changes to the tune. Frequenting Tsukuba’s TC1000, he became extremely familiar with how the car handled and reacted on track. Be that as it may, none of us are immune to accidents, and what the car looks like today actually came a result of a bad incident while driving an event at TC1000.
The crash occurred on the second lap of a super lap (time attack), where he pushed under at the start of the first corner and went off the course. Although he was used to running on this track and had even updated his personal best that day (42.362 seconds), things can happen quickly on the limit. When the car hit the crash pad, the car suffered significant damage to the bumper, fenders, mirrors and wing, as well as numerous cosmetic damage to the exterior.
Giving up on the car was never an option, but instead of simply fixing the damage, Saito saw this as an opportunity to revamp the car’s exterior and create the FC3S he had always envisioned. He renewed the exterior with a mix of aero parts tailored to his own personal style. A Tamon design carbon hood was sourced from a friend and is one of the more rarer pieces on the car. RE Amemiya now dominates the front end of the FC with Full Cowl-Pro round eye light front bumper, RE carbon canards, and RE front air duct. The front fenders are one-off pieces processed from Panspeed overs and what seems to be Origin Lab fenders; regardless of what they’re based on, it’s a great look that ties the front end together. Rounding out the newer GT look of the car are a set of Craft Square carbon side mirrors, Super Now SPL wing stays (you’ll recognize these as the same style Tadafumi Akutsu has on his FC), and an Esprit 052 GT wing. A Car Shop Glow universal front splitter and rear diffuser assist in downforce and increasing the overall style of the FC. The 18×10.5j +15 Rays CE28SL wheels are wrapped in 275/35 series Dunlop ZIII, and up front hide the upgraded 314mm FD3S front brakes.
His experience on the TC1000 circuit was a turning point, inspiring him to create his new vision for the car – and I have always wanted to take a closer look at it.
Our meeting location at Kawaguchi Station ended up being the better of venues we tried out. The mix of pedestrians and commuters around the public area made for an interesting backdrop, and the building materials and signage happened to match the car well. Instead of doing my best to isolate the FC, I embraced the high-traffic area and allowed the environment to be part of the experience.
“In the future, I think it would be great if I could run mountain roads and circuits as a hobby while using it on a daily basis. When I get a little older and don’t need to run at high speed, I’m thinking of returning the exterior to normal, putting on deep rim wheels, and creating an FC3S with a short vehicle height concept.”
良いなと思っています。もう少し歳を取ってスピードを出して走る必要が無くなったら、 外装をノーマルに戻し、深リムホイールを履かせ、 車高短をコンセプトにしたFC3Sをつろうと考えています。」
In the weeks leading up to our meeting, I found a building on Google Maps when researching locations, that ended up being a government building for the Ward. I wanted to continue the neutral setting, and the mix of cement, copper siding and glass stairwell fit the FC well. So it became our second intended location for some more photos after leaving the station. When we arrived, it was a bit difficult to stage the car without impeding traffic, but we did the best we could.
Aside from his love for cars, Saito enjoys snowboarding with his brother. He also likes to speed down the slopes on his snowboard, showcasing his love for adrenaline-fueled activities.
Saito’s love for his Mazda FC3S is a testament to how a car can hold sentimental value and be a reflection of one’s passion. His dream of owning his ideal FC3S was realized, and the time he has invested is paid forward through shared experiences with the car. It’s more than just a car; it’s a reflection of his personality and an extension of his love for automobiles.