Party Monster: 1988 Mazda RX-7
While most of 9+ million viewers watched for The Weeknd, there is a small niche in the import world that went crazy for a whole other reason. They saw a familiar face — the true Starboy (or Stargirl, in this case) of the video, Ruby.
That's right, Ruby is that beautiful ruby red '88 Mazda RX-7 that stole the spotlight from the artist formerly "with the big hair." As I saw more and more of my friends sharing and reposting this car with The Weeknd, I knew I had to do some digging to find the owner of this particular RX-7.
Fortunately, I didn't have to do too much digging because of how well-connected the import community is. I quickly learned that Ruby was built by Buddha Concept Designs (BCD), the same good hands that built Yogi's VIP GT Style Lexus GS. After a few messages, the meet-up was set, and I was beyond excited.
Fast forward to the meet-up day — I was just one turn away from their shop when I spotted Ruby pass by and park in front of the shop's unmarked garage door. Much like its owners, BCD is a humble shop without any big, fancy signs. Jim Le, owner of the RX-7 and co-owner of BCD, stepped out of the car; I made my formal introduction, and then it was time to shoot.
Lady in Red
As I set up my gear for the shoot, we chatted a bit about the car, and of course, I asked the big question:
"How did it become part of The Weeknd's music video?"
In the simplest words possible, Jim and his brother Long (also co-owner of BCD) have a friend that is a part of the production team who was looking for cars to star in the video. Originally, he had asked Jim to use his car just for background shots, but for some reason, by a twist of fate, the team ended up making Ruby the star of the video, opting to pick the simple RX-7 over two fancy Lamborghinis.
Sure, a Lamborghini is cool, but there's something low-key chill about this generation Mazda RX-7. To Jim, Ruby is a daily driven passion project that he absolutely loves. It's been freshly painted twice now and is currently displaying an authentic GP Sport aero body kit, D-Max wide fenders and JDM side mirrors. It sits on Panasport G7 wheels with stance perfected by Powered by MAX coilovers. Take a peek inside to find Recaro seats and a Nardi steering wheel, which is located on the other side. Jim converted Ruby to right hand drive (RHD) to match its JDM counterpart.
Considering the way Jim has styled Ruby and the excellent condition he's kept it in, it's easy to see the star quality that caught the video crews' eyes.
Not Without Scars
Being on set as they filmed a music video with The Weeknd was definitely a unique experience for Jim. The production crew even left him something to always remember it by, whether he liked it or not.
One of the untold rules of making music videos is doing whatever it takes to get those exciting shots — including driving cars with no f*cks given. No, The Weeknd isn't the joyriding type; his role in the video was to sit in the car. The joyriding was left up to a professional stunt driver on hand, but doing donuts in the sand in any car nearly 30 years old will inevitably take its toll.
During filming, Ruby broke down twice. It must have been heart wrenching for him to watch his pride and joy being put through the ringer. Other than dust everywhere, from the seats to the intake, the clutch was burnt pretty badly, and many stress cracks and rock chips were found throughout the body.
I was totally fine shooting it as-is to really get an authentic feel of the experience, but Jim told me that he just couldn't do it; he couldn't leave Ruby like that, and I don't blame him. Once the insurance for the repairs were all squared away, he fixed and cleaned Ruby back up so that it would look marvelous before I came down to shoot.
Regardless of what happened, Jim is still grateful for the opportunity and is humbled by all the love his RX-7 has gotten. Plus, any reason to drive and work on Ruby is a good reason.
Before I left, BCD did mention that a few other cars they built were used for another music video, which includes another car Driving Line is very familiar with. But more on that later — I guess you'll just have to stay tuned when the video drops to find out which car is the star.