After sitting dormant for a few years now, the Marsden Motorsport S13 has been reimagined. Now sporting a new look, we delve deep into the background of Hamish and the Marsden Motorsport’s S13.5 and it’s fresh new look!
Words and Photos: Liam Dijk
There are those who take the normal road, who do what is proven and easier — taking the path of least resistance. Then there are those others who march to the beat of their own drum, seeking the unique and delighting in proving people wrong. This is the story of a vehicle from the path less trodden and of a new owner who sought to both pay homage to a legacy, while also putting his own stamp on something already a little out of the box.
To understand the car today, first you must travel back to the past. At this moment, we pay our respects and remember this mad beast’s creator. Growing up in Tauranga in the heyday of street racing and having a passion for drifting as a teenager naturally led to street drifting for Hamish Marsden, the Marsden Motorsport ute’s original owner. A shared obsession with building and drifting rear-wheel-drive Nissans led to Hamish and current owner Bryce Dijk becoming firm mates among a wider circle of enthusiasts. A brotherhood for life was formed and grew stronger as Hamish began his journey towards becoming successful in the world of professional drifting, with Bryce along for the ride as pit crew and believing that his mate had all the raw talent and drive to eventually take on the best in the world.
Bryce and Hamish were in each other’s pockets throughout the build of the first Marsden Motorsport concept, an RB25DET-powered, ute-chopped Nissan Silvia S13. As many know, what would become mark 1 of the drift ute fell victim to the Pukekohe sweeper in less than fortunate circumstances, making contact with a barrier during a return run. That crash ended the season for Hamish but he never gave up wanting to be the best and knew that he needed to build a serious weapon to compete.
Hamish was living in Auckland at this stage with his dad, Craig, and, helped by a small team behind them, they got to work on mark 2. What came next would have been one of the earliest and most serious 2JZ-powered competition drift cars in New Zealand. “It was overbuilt from day one. It was always going to be,” Bryce says as he starts to describe the build. “It was so over-engineered and it was so far out of the box that people were actually afraid [of it].”
It was 2010 at this stage, and Bryce remembers building the cage at Mag & Turbo Tauranga with Hamish in just two days. Although the cage was homologated and built to MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) standards, a rule at the time meant that the vehicle wasn’t deemed eligible to compete in the national drift series due to the roof-chop modification.
“He [Hamish] struggled a lot with just trying to get the ute entered into the physical thing he built it for. That must have been pretty heartbreaking to build it all, get to the end and be like, ‘Righto, I’m ready to race it’ and then effectively be told to f*ck off,” Bryce comments with clear emotion (NZPC notes at this point that this is the story as relayed to us and does not wish to see opinion or debate on this matter, which may cause distress).
Sadly, Hamish had also been battling with severe depression, and, tragically, on 24 April 2011, he lost his battle to suicide. Keeping his son’s dream alive, Craig Marsden held on to the ute, doing all he could to try to tame the beast. But, as Bryce describes it: “It was super aggressive; you had to want to drift it. It was an extremely hard car to learn how to drift. You had to bring yourself to monster mode to tackle the thing to make it do something.”
Over the years of the ute living in Craig’s garage, Bryce would bring it to Taupo and Hampton Downs for drift days and charity events where his and Hamish’s mates could go hard for the day and remember their friend together while doing what he loved. “I think all four corners came in contact with the wall between 2011 and when I got it some years later,” says Bryce, laughing. Eventually, Craig listed the car for sale, but even with the full amount of cash he wanted on the table, he couldn’t bring himself to let it go.
Fast forward to around four years ago, Bryce and his fiancée, Anya, were planning their return home from a holiday overseas. Bryce was yarning to Craig, who offered to drive the couple down to Tauranga on landing back in New Zealand. At that time, Craig dropped into conversation, “We’ll bring the car down too.” Bryce wasn’t aware that, in his absence, Craig had rung around all the boys and asked if they wanted to chip in as a syndicate to share the ute. It was unanimous that it would end up with Bryce. Since Hamish’s passing, Bryce says he has matured a lot and that now reflects in what can naturally be called the Marsden Motorsport S13 ute mark 3 — “I wanted to show that in the S15 build I’ve matured and everything else about the ute should mature with us.”
A plumber / gas fitter by trade, Bryce sold his last motorcross bike years ago to purchase his first welder. Self-taught from home, he built his first exhaust manifold in 2012 for mate Rusty’s GT-R. A natural progression followed as a talented fabricator, working in leading performance shops in New Zealand, perfecting the art of welding and performance car building. Talking about what has led to the new look, he says, “For three years it just sat there, covered in shit like carpet and other random garage ornaments. One day 14 months ago, a spanner picked itself up and walked me over to the car and started working on it. It was really strange.”
A head full of ideas had formed over the years of planning and working on many race cars. Having already had the chance to drift the ute previously, the choice this time around was to make the ute into a circuit car: “Grip has a lot to answer for.”
Appearance-wise, an S15 front was always going to happen, with Bryce secretly never a fan of the R34 front. “Nothing’s stopping me from leaving the front on, repainting it yellow, and bringing it out exactly as it was,” he says. “That was done. It was cool at the time, but we all know Hamish wouldn’t have kept it the same for one season or even half a season, let alone 10 years.” Bryce has always had an eye for out-of-the-box ideas and executing them perfectly. He knew he was going to piss off some people and had already acquired a taste for the Rocket Bunny style, since it was big in Japan at the time, so the bodykit choice was simple.
Ever since Bryce saw Audi release Nardo Grey, he had to use it, removing any doubt that the colour would not be exact by getting the real McCoy straight from the factory in Germany. To many, it looks like a closed-door respray but Bryce intentionally did that “so when you open the doors, Hamish is still there, he’s still a part of it, he’s inside”.
Fabrication-wise, Bryce always wanted to create a low-mount turbo manifold to be different. So he did, while chasing a precise exhaust note from the ute that would rival a 746kW JZA80 Supra tone — all spool, no gate, and one big-tip muffler. Being ‘Dutch’, the decision was made not to cut a hole in the brand-new Rocket Bunny kit, so the four-inch exhaust was sent out the back to a 101mm Adrenalin R race muffler. When originally built, boost controllers weren’t widely used, so, by raising the boost 7psi, Bryce gained an extra 37kW from full boost at 4800rpm, to having it on tap at 2800rpm. By using the same turbo but having it rebuilt, the bones of this beast are original and the sound is pure.
The plans from this point are to get the ute up to MSNZ standards once again to compete with the Open Saloon Car Association (OSCA) in Canterbury. Now having tested the new ute around Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, Bryce has experienced his first track event at which he has not had to change tyres. The car was on song and, after hours of taking a hiding, didn’t spill a drop of oil.
When asked what it is, Bryce describes it as an “S13 ute-chop, roof-chop, S15-front, Supra-motor” because “if you don’t list it all, you can’t visualise it”. After spending some time around this weapon trying to explain its heritage and make-up in one sentence, we would have to agree. Oh, and Hamish, if you’re reading this, you still owe Bryce $20.
This article originally appeared in New Zealand Performance Car issue 292