Serving up the country’s best automotive offerings southern style at the 2018 V 4&Rotary South Island Champs
Anyone in the North Island could chuck a dart at the calendar and find the pointy end pierced through the date of at least one sweet car event — it’s practically overflowing with them up there. But do the same down south and it’d be like winning the lottery. On any given date that a Southie may hit, the sleepy city of Timaru is typically going to be nothing more than a quiet coastal port city on the drive from Christchurch to Dunedin. However, if you managed to hit the sweet spot of 16–18 November this year, well, your Timaru experience would have been anything but quiet. It marked the annual V 4&Rotary South Island Champs, an event we all know all too well, and one that claims the entire city for three days solid, seeing the streets invaded by undoubtedly the entire South Island contingent of car enthusiasts — to the point that driving a non-modified car would make you the odd one out.
The weekend bender kicked off in the same style carried over from last year, with day one calling on all owners of spinning Doritos to take over Timaru International Motor Raceway for a rotary-only track-day affair. The love for a good brapper is super strong in the South, and it showed in the attendance numbers, pulling out a handful of examples that very rarely see the light of day regardless of the occasion, some even leaving spectators confused as to why they were at the ‘rotary-only’ day — such as Jarred Haig’s recently completed 13B turbo-powered Subaru WRX. The day promises a heap of track time and is a far sight less busy than those that followed if you meet the criteria.
And while the Friday marks a big day, it’s easily the massivest night, too. It’s the one that all those who have travelled the length of the island or more get barred up over. Not because the local Speight’s Ale House has a sweet deal going on steaks and handles, or as the BP has lopped a few cents off the already stupidly cheap fuel, but for what has become the customary night cruising, which sees the streets swarmed with modified cars in all directions. We’d dare not miss it, so we wrangled a sweet grandad-spec JZX100 turbo off Lance Streeter at Streeter Concepts in Oamaru. At the height of the night, you’d be lucky to get above 20kph in the city centre, and trains of cars were flooding every intersection just trying to find out where everyone was going and where the place to be was. The truth of it was, no matter where you found yourself, that was the place to be. We managed to lose track of more than a few hours and drain a tank of gas in the process — money spent damn well if you ask us, and we’d do the same 10 times over again.
With very little sleep, and no doubt some entrants nursing mild hangovers, day two always seems to promise two things: scorching amounts of sun, like any good track day, and a serious amount of time pedalling your way around Timaru International Motor Raceway. Mixing it up between the cruise-with-your-mates sessions, circuit cars and drift cars were given their own freedoms, while there was also roll racing and burnouts on offer. Hell, if you couldn’t be arsed with actually driving, there was even a hard park on offer, and wandering around the pits made for tasty viewing. It’s a credit to the Premier Events team year on year for pulling off the mammoth task — with this year was so packed that it must have been near on the limit of what the track could handle! And, like all its events, there was never that feeling of stagnation or commercialization; it’s all a grass-roots affair — if you wanted to load in your best Wu-Tang tape and roll slow and low, then you could get amongst it.
Having a sneak-peak into the show set-up the night before, we knew the morning of day three would bring the best of what the South had to offer at the Southern Trust Events Centre. Organizer Azhar Bhamji told us that this year the team focused on showcasing quality, giving entrants more space, and screening the cars entered to ensure that all were up to scratch, so that attendees would get the full show experience. Notable mentions need to go out to the collaboration between Vinny Fab and ADM Refinishing, seeing the 1UZ-FE Hilux in this very issue on display and a freshly built S13 drifter, as well as the likes of Darren Irvine’s VS-KF wearing Passion Red JZX100, and Brad Greer’s once-chromie-and-Lambo-doored R34 that now boasts full GT-R bodywork. Cany Customs reappeared with a contingent of cars too, with head honcho Blake ‘Cany’ Harpur pulling off yet another blisterer of a build — a wild RB30-powered R34 slathered in harlequin paintwork — this time only a mere month and a bit before the show. He was also responsible for the latest incarnation of the infamous ‘SWAGER’ C33 that wore matching paintwork and VS-KFs.
On the other side of the hall, James Horner laughed on as a mix of enthused and confused spectators took in the glory of his cheap-as-chips throwback KE26 build, complete with raucous 12A extend-port and rattle-can camo paintwork — it didn’t win any awards on the day, but it certainly won our hearts. And down the back saw a line-up of three orange Escorts, consisting of a MkII with a Toyota 3T power plant. The other two were MkIs, one a replica Mexico and the other an RS Sport that was complemented by a Zetec heart.
The overall turnout this year blew all our expectations out of the water. It’s a credit to all those who were involved, from organization to attendance, and, as we departed Timaru on the Monday morning, northward bound, a slight feeling of sadness flowed through us in the wake of it being over for another year. But we take solace in knowing that we’ll be back real soon to do it all over again and are stoked that the 4&Rotary crew have locked Timaru in for another three years, announcing that next year will see the show and track day switched around so that those who are brave enough can take their cars directly from the show to the track!
Catch you all again in 2019.
Bonnet on and turned off, this Subaru WRX simply looks like a tasteful example slammed on airbags, and come the rotary-only day, it was the familiar pulse of a 13B turbo that got people scratching their heads at how it could be producing such sounds. But once the bonnet was lifted during the show, the reason was fairly obvious. The drivetrain has been converted to rear-wheel drive and makes use of a Skyline rear end to do so. Owner Jarred Haig tells us that it’s been a hard slog getting everything right, but it’s nearly there, with only a few finishing pieces left — watch out for a full feature in the near future.
An SR20 stuffed into an FD RX-7 is the kind of thing that either gets people frothing at the mouth with excitement or screaming sacrilege. But whatever you may think of Nathan Chapman’s choice of heart, this ex–cover car debuted in a new guise at this year’s show. Once kitted with BN Sports and sat over a big boy set of Weds, Nathan has ditched what he described as “hot boy” looks in favour of factory aero, carbon-fibre, and fresh paintwork. While it remains almost full race car inside the cabin, it’s completely street-legal and sees regular grocery-getting use in its new form.
When Billy Gordon got his hands on this E30, it was all but a wreck. A few years on, and it now wears a slick Pandem Rocket Bunny kit that eats up a set of 17×9.5-inch and 17×11-inch Work VS-KFs. Being a painter by trade, the whole thing is licked in a mix of Apple Red and Brandywine Candy over a silver base coat, and while the interior packs a bolt-in half-cage and underneath you’ll find a set of HKS coilovers, it is set to go back into the garage for a few months to receive a long-awaited engine swap that he’s staying pretty tight-lipped about — you’ll have to wait until 2019 to find out what goes down!
Bought for peanuts many moons ago, and once housing a stout 5K power plant, these days, Graham Boyd’s KE30 Deluxe makes use of a blacktop 4A-GE and J160 Altezza six-speed. It’s only recently been pieced back together after a driveshaft incident at Toyota Fest saw everything rearward of the motor lunched. This meant the shortened 10-bolt Corona diff and TRD two-way limited-slip diff had to be rebuilt, a bit of fabrication was needed to set the floorpan right, and all the lines that got caught up and mangled in the process had to be rerun — not that you could tell in the slightest, bar the mangled driveshaft that Graham humorously used to prop up the bonnet come Sunday!
The world’s first and only factory rotary-powered pickup, the Mazda REPU, was never sold outside of the Americas, which means that it’s a pretty rare sight on our shores. This one, owned by Hayden Shakespeare — who also owns the RX-3 circuit car pictured alongside it — told us that he sold his previous restored example in favour of this one for the originality of the whole thing. Everything remains factory, right down to the wheels and the honest, weather-worn paintwork. It even has a miniature Hot Wheels version sitting in the front windscreen!
No stranger to rare and exotic Japanese cars, with a wild R34 GT-R and KPGC10 Hakosuka in his possession, Jason Pooke, of vehicle import company JDM Direct, showed up with a genuine Nissan S13 convertible. One of just 800 examples plucked from Nissan’s assembly plant in completed trim and hacked up to remove the roof by tuning house Autech, the CA18DET-powered automatic is all but factory and is even less common thanks to the optioned cream-over-gold colour — 600 of the total cars built were blue, with the remaining 200 painted in a handful of optional colours. Jason has chosen to sit it over a set colour-matched SSR Formula Meshes in lieu of the stock wheels.