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Southern comfort: 2019 4 & Rotary South Island Champs

30 December 2019



The South Island’s greatest phenomenon since the invention of Speights: the 2019 V 4&Rotary South Island Champs

We live in one hell of a beautiful country. There’s upwards of 18km2 of land per person on offer and most of that is swarming with wonders that the rest of the world can only dream of having on their doorstep. At the heart of that lushness are the offerings of our southern island, which gets swamped by tourists and is heralded for its mountain ranges; long-spanning plains; rich historic townships; and, most important, one of the biggest weekends on the automotive calendar: the V 4&Rotary South Island Champs!

Hosted by the sleepy city of Timaru, what is typically nothing more than a quiet coastal port town on the drive from Christchurch to Dunedin transforms into a wild hub of all-things modified cars for one weekend in November. ‘Champs’, or ‘Fours and Rotas’, as it’s affectionately known by the locals, claims the entire city for three days solid, calling on undoubtedly the entire South Island contingent of car enthusiasts. It’s a be-there-or-you’re-missing-out type of affair, and we wouldn’t dare miss it.

Despite launching initially as a reduced two-day format, the absolute sender of a weekend kicked off on Friday with the introduction of an old North Island favourite, JapFest, which invited all pre-90s Japanese cars to get an early taste of Timaru International Motor Raceway with fewer numbers blocking your pulls down the back straight. Changing up the format from the previous year, the regular Saturday track-thrashing was switched with the show, meaning that set-up could go down on the Friday night and entrants were able to make the most of the track time come Sunday.

We slipped our way past security to catch a sneak peek of what the south had to offer at the Southern Trust Events Centre for the show, and there was one thing that was very evident straight off the bat. Organizers had curated an offering that was focused heavily on showcasing quality over quantity, giving entrants generous space and punters the opportunity to see the entirety of each car on display. Mixing up in all that was a ton of extra-curricular activities. Full-noise start-ups, dyno power runs, and drifting demos from Southern Stance were the icing on this 100-octane cake.

Notable mentions were earned by the unofficial ‘King of Timaru’, Ben Sinclair, who either lost half his panels on the drive over, or pulled off perhaps the coolest way to display the inner workings of a drift car project ever, with his ‘two-faced’ Toyota JZX100 packing a 3UZ V8 under the half-bonnet. Club K easily claimed the largest club display with an artisan collection of classic Corolla steel that was nicely complemented by scatterings of Toyota-branded components. The 1UZ proved that it still rules the roost with a slathering of incarnations, appearing in Michael Ledgerwood’s individual throttle body (ITB)– and NOS-packing KE10; Jesse Kinzett’s mongrel KE30; Richard Macnaughtan’s ITB-laden Chrysler Avenger Estate; and even a 100E Anglia that sports a big diff, meaty rears, and ITBs! Needless to say, the Toyota representation was strong.

With an official cruise route laid out and given the thumbs up by the law, Saturday stole the title from the regular Friday antics as the biggest of the weekend — the customary night cruising saw the streets crammed with every make and model your heart could handle. We nabbed the passenger seat of James Horner’s worked 3K-powered KE35 (flick to page 104 for the feature) and tagged onto the end of the chain that, despite being well over an hour’s worth of driving, had already looped back on itself! Once the official side of things was all said and done, the streets became not one bit quieter and no matter where you found yourself, it was all going down. By the end of the late, late night, we had lost track of more than our fair share of hours, drained a tank of gas, and spun buckets of solid yarns.

Despite a complete lack of sleep for everyone the night before, Sunday morning at Timaru raceway was bloody packed. Mixing it up between the cruise-with-your-mates sessions, circuit cars, and drift cars, the track only ever stopped flowing for the burnout comp; otherwise, it was non-stop pedalling being served up hot and ready. The pits were a festering valley of drool-worthy machinery, from hardcore track weaponry to show cars that were far too nice to be abused but still doing it anyway! Even those who couldn’t be arsed with actually driving could get amongst the trackside hardpark.

There’s something indescribably special about Champs, a feeling that needs to be experienced first-hand to be properly understood, and one that leaves us with a slight amount of sadness every time Monday morning rolls around. But hey, everyone departs the weekend with the knowledge that, while it might be a 365-day wait, we’ll all be back next year to do it all over again! Catch you there in 2020.


This AE85 Sprinter slapped you in the face from the moment that you walked through the door. Licked in an attention-grabbing green and black two-tone hue and packing a stout 16V 4A-GE that makes use of a custom twin–throttle body intake set-up, owner Harry Smith walked away with the big one — the People’s Choice award — for his efforts. Keep an eye out for a full feature in a future issue

‘Less is more’ was the lesson that Georgia Duncan’s ’94 Type X dished out. With factory curves complemented by custom SignLab under panels, solid fitment, on-point ride height, and a respray in factory S13 coupe gunmetal, it was the crowd winner that needed no awards!

More than a few years in the making, Jarred Haig’s air-bagged, Work Equip–clad 13BT-powered Subaru WRX would see him walk away with the coveted trophy for Best Rotary Conversion

One of just 26 New Zealand–new examples of this model sold on our shores, Michael Brown’s ’84 Toyota Corolla GT (AE86) is the oldest surviving example left on the road and looks as though it has lived inside a climate-controlled bubble since day dot

While the JZX100 continues to be wildly popular whatever island you’re on, there’s something to be said for the smooth, rounded styling of a JZX90. Joseph Schlegel’s Mark II gets it done on a set of 18×9.5-inch Work VS-KFs and with Vertex aero

Finding one E21 out in the wild is a rare occurrence but two is unheard of. While Corrie De Wagt’s turbo incarnation is featured on page 40, Ryan O’Malley’s example is all-natural, running throaty ITBs and slammed over a set of BBS RSs

There’s something strangely irresistible about mismatched and bare panels sitting over a fresh set of wheels that draws you in — especially when the rears are wrapped in drag slicks. But if it wasn’t the big rubber that caught your attention, it would have been the ITB-clad 1UZ-FE sitting in the engine bay of Dylan Field’s monster Ford Anglia

Sliced, diced, and shown in two-faced form, Ben Sinclair’s JZX100 displayed the inner workings of a drift car: a custom front and rear tube frame, aggressive fitment from the Rays Gramlights 57CRs in Gun Blue, and a 3UZ V8 power plant

Dripping in PS Duce bodywork, pumped out wide by Top Miata and Project G front and rear guards, and slathered in custom black with rainbow flake paintwork, Thomas Reddell’s MX-5 only gets gnarlier the longer that you look at it. From the 15×9-inch (-9) Work VS-XXs, to the NB MX-5–converted dashboard and quilted leather carpets, this one’s all about the details

The classic Volvo brick styling has been oddly embraced by the Japanese-import fan base lately, and Toby Gregory has perfectly challenged that liking by slapping in one of the most simultaneously loved and hated power plants on the planet: an LS! How good

The lawn master himself, Lewis Hicks, showed us first-hand that big things come from small packages with his turbo 4A-GE-powered Mk2 Escort. This one’s an absolute belter of a tarmac terrorizer, competing in local street sprints and hill climbs, as well as regularly menacing the Waimate 50 — we’ll have the full yarn in next month’s issue!

Jesse Kinzett’s left-hook Mazda 323 was a semi-confusing addition to the Club K display, but, after reading the to-do list on the front window, which included a 4A-GE conversion with ITBs and an AE86 T50 gear-swapper-and-diff combo, it made a whole lot more sense!

Just over a week out from rolling through the show hall doors, Jacob Davidson’s Cefiro was motor-less, with the RB20DE+T NEO puzzle in pieces on the workshop bench. You could understand our surprise, then, to feel heat radiating from the bonnet-vented screamer pipe come Saturday morning — the crazy bastard had done it, and driven it inside to boot!

Despite being a devout Toyota fan, when it comes to losing traction, Nick Kensington couldn’t deny the prowess of a Nissan Silvia. This treat of an S14 Kouki does it naturally aspirated, favouring momentum over brute force power, and he knew how to party with it too

Chopper Keen’s 13BT-powered Datsun 1200 ute made the pilgrimage down from the north and took out the awards for Best Engineering and Best Drag Car

Jason Johnston not only took home the trophies for Best 6 Cyl Piston, Best Nissan, Best Piston Vehicle Overall, and Best Drift Car with his RB26-powered Nissan S13 on Saturday, but he also got buck wild in the drifting sessions and laid out a crowd-roaring burnout to celebrate!



Best RX3/808: Michael Bateman, Mazda RX-3
Best RX4/929: Jake Lanauze, Mazda RX-4
Best Late Model RX: Max Flower, Mazda RX-7
Best Rotary Conversion: Jarred Haig, Subaru WRX
Best RX Other: Cory Wilson, Mazda Roadpacer
RX Master: Max Flower, Mazda RX-7

Best 4 Cyl Piston: Pearl Moore, Toyota Starlet
Best 6 Cyl Piston: Jason Johnston, Nissan S13
Best 8 Cyl Piston: Richard Macnaughtan, Chrysler Avenger estate
Best 1970–1989: Hayden Murray, Ford Escort Mexico
Best 1990–1999: Stefan Rapley, Toyota Corolla
Best 2000–2009: Leora Preston, Mitsubishi Evo VII RS
Best 2010+: Brooke Burmester, Volkswagen Golf R
Best Piston Conversion: Braden Overweg, Mazda RX-7
Best Piston Vehicle Overall: Jason Johnston, Nissan S13

Best Club Theme/Display: Club K
Best Club Attitude: Club K
New Club on the Block: Evo Squad
Overall Top Club: Club K

Best Subaru: Drew Godfrey, Subaru Impreza
Best Toyota: Harry Smith, Toyota Sprinter
Best Nissan: Jason Johnston, Nissan S13
Best Mazda (Piston): Thomas Reddell, Mazda MX-5
Best Ford: Matt Smith, Ford Cortina Sport
Best Mitsubishi: Leora Preston, Mitsubishi Evo VII RS
Best Euro: Corrie De Wagt, BMW E21

Suspension/Brakes: Shyam Patel, Holden Calais (VL)
Undercarriage: Nathan Chapman, Mazda RX-7
Engineering: Shyam Patel, Holden Calais (VL)
Wheels: Jason Pooke, Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
Engine Bay: Shyam Patel, Holden Calais (VL)
Bodykit: Nathan Chapman, Mazda RX-7
Paint: Chris Brabazon, Nissan S15
Display: James Horner, Toyota Corolla KE35
Power Outputs: Jason Pooke, Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R

Best Drift Car: Jason Johnston, Nissan S13
Best Drag Car: Chopper Keen, Datsun 1200 Roadster

Best Paint: Pearl Moore, Toyota Starlet
Best Extreme Paint: Thomas Reddell, Mazda MX-5
Best Undercarriage, Suspension & Brakes: Pearl Moore, Toyota Starlet
Best Engine Bay: Max Flower, Mazda RX-7
Best Bodykit: Robbie Asbury, Nissan 180SX
Best Engineering: Chopper Keen, Datsun 1200 Roadster
Best Rims & Tyres Suited to Vehicle: Michael Brown, Toyota Corolla GT (AE86)
Best Stance: Ben Langley, Mazda RX-7
Best Extreme Stance: Michael Kerr, Mazda RX-7
Best Original Interior: Matt Smith, Ford Cortina Sport
Best Modified Interior: Stefan Rapley, Toyota Corolla
Best VIP Style Vehicle: Kane Mcghee, Toyota Crown Majesta C-Type

Standout/Encouragement Award: Jack Smith, Nissan Laurel
Standout/Encouragement Award: Dylan Field, Ford Anglia
Standout/Encouragement Award: Jesse Kinzett, Toyota Corolla KE30
Standout/Encouragement Award: Barrie Allison, Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
Standout/Encouragement Award: Cameron Fogarty, Chevrolet Caprice

Peoples’ Choice: Harry Smith, Toyota Sprinter (AE85)