Jan 11, 2008 | NZPC

Here’s the definitive test: is the Mitsubishi Evo X faster than the outgoing Evo IX, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI 9, and the new STI?

This race around the Tsukuba track has great in-car footage showing you just where each car has its strengths and weaknesses.

Jan 11, 2008 | NZPC

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Ahead of its Tokyo Auto Salon release later today (Friday), Mazda has supplied a teaser shot of its facelift RX-8 RS. Official specs will be released probably this weekend. What we can tell you is that it has a new sportier front fascia, the air intakes are larger, and the front foglights that are incorporated into the grille are no longer round. There’s a splitter at the bottom of the new bumper with flaps that increase airflow to the brakes (and probably assist with stability). The 19-inch wheels and rear spoiler round off the RS version, but most likely won’t make it onto the standard RX-8 facelift.

Jan 11, 2008 | NZPC

1997 Toyota Hiace Van

Lee Mitchell’s mum thinks he is a pimp. Sure, he’s a good-looking chap (Todd’s words not mine — Ed), and I’m sure he’s a hit with the ladies, but a pimp? That’s taking it a bit too far. If you ask Lee, he will tell you he’s a carpet layer, but then he is from the Christchurch, so maybe that’s secret code for pimp we don’t have up in Jafaland. Whether Lee’s mum bought him the PMP 1 number plate to advertise his 'extra curricular’ services or to warn the local women folk of his devious game, we are also not sure. One thing we can say, however, is the fact that Lee’s 1997 Hiace van is pretty damn pimpin’, and you don’t need to see the bed in the back to work that out. From the moment you first lay eyes on the van, you know something is just not right — or is it right and every other van is wrong?

Now, while you ponder that, lets get into the thick of things. If you haven’t figured it out already, the Japanese 'Vanning’ culture (yes, it actually has a name!) is a bizarre one. The usual recipe for creating such beasts always seem to start with a Toyota Hiace — we’re not sure why. After having considerable amounts of Yen thrown at them, they emerge as giant fibreglass-encrusted objects of automotive art, twice as long, and half again high. To the untrained eye, these mobile masterpieces look like they emerged straight from the depths of the Bat Cave.

There are actually specialist stores out there who happily perform this 'Extreme Makeover’ (and often 'When Extreme Makeovers Go Bad’) surgery for you. While I’m sure the owners intend to be individual, most of these aerodynamically enhanced (or should that be challenged?) machines actually end up looking the same. Pastel-hued paintjobs, Disney character and boy band air-brushings and truck-sized exhausts are, unfortunately, pretty much standard fare in this game. Love ’em or loathe ’em, the few Vanning examples that have made it all the way to Godzone certainly attract attention from everyone they pass.

There’s 15 pieces to this kit, all nicely fitted up before the van was re-sprayed in it’s original metallic silver paint and dumped on it’s ass by winding down the front torsion bars and fitting Super-Low springs up in the back. The giant deep-dish rims of unknown origin are the pèice de resistance though, measuring 18×9-inch up front with 225/40ZR18 tyres, and 18×10-inches down the rear with super-girth 275/35R18s. Strobe lights, 20 per cent tints and clear tail lights finish the look off nicely, which is more than we can say for the Dolphin graphic, which if you look very carefully, you’ll see shimmering in the back window.

In factory form, the naturally aspirated, diesel-powered van was slow — nothing wrong with that if you’re in the pimpin’ game though! Still, power was always on the cards for the Hiace’s original Japanese owner who modified the 1KZ-TE three-litre twin-turbo under the front seats. Now if you’re scratching you head, wondering why you’ve never heard of a 1KZ, you can be forgiven — we hadn’t either. Apparently, the 1KZ motor is to the Toyota diesel world what the 2JZ is to the petrol, but I’m not sure if that makes it right. With a front-mounted 600x300x75mm intercooler, HKS Power Flow air filter and twin three-inch exhaust systems, the engine scores some extra brownie points! so it’s cool.

Inside though, the Japanese creator wanted to get freaky just like the rest of the Vanners and decked the Hiace out with all the essentials: a white vinyl roof and a foldout bed in the rear — pure class. To keep an eye on underseat happenings, GReddy oil pressure, oil temperature, boost pressure, water temperature and exhaust temperature meters were fitted across the dash-top, while the driver and passenger were treated to a pair of Recaro SR2 seats.

For entertaining value a half-decent ICE package was installed in the van, even if much of it was originally destined for the home. Up front there’s an Alpine FVA-W306 head unit with four-inch front speakers, while backseat and bed passengers get a Zanon DVD201T DVD player, twin Zanon seven-inch monitors, Bose B-4160 and B-2140 amplifiers, a pair of Bose Accoustimass bass cannons and some matching cube speakers. Lee couldn’t ask for more when he slips in Marvin Gaye’s Lets Get It On.

OK, so Vanning style isn’t for everyone, but Lee’s Hiace is living proof that it can actually be done with a bit of taste. After owning a string of performance cars, he was after something a little different, and I’m sure you’ll agree that’s what he got!

SPEC

1997 TOYOTA HIACE VAN

ENGINE: 1KZ-TE 3000cc turbo diesel, twin turbo conversion, twin oil coolers, 300x600x75mm intercooler, twin 3-inch exhausts, HKS Power Flow air filter

DRIVELINE: Factory 4-speed automatic, limited slip differential

SUSPENSION/BRAKES: Torsion bars front, Super-Low springs rear
Brakes: Factory with aftermarket pads

WHEELS AND TYRES: 18×9-inch front, 18×10-inch rear with 225/40ZR18, 275/35R18 tyres

EXTERIOR: 15-piece body kit, strobe lights, 20% tints, factory silver colour, clear tail lights,

INTERIOR: GReddy oil pressure, oil temperature, boost pressure, water temperature, exhaust temperature meters, white face dials, Recaro front seats, white vinyl roof and side panels, folding bench seat in rear

ICE: Alpine FVA-W306 head unit, 4-inch front speakers, Bose B-2140 amp, 2x 7-inch Zanon screens, 2x Bose Accoustimass bass cannons, Zanon DVD201T DVD player, Bose B-4160 Amplifier

PERFORMANCE: Pimpin’

DRIVER PROFILE

LEE MITCHELL

AGE: 26

OCCUPATION: Carpet layer

PREVIOUSLY OWNED CARS: Mazda 323, Nissan Primera, Mazda 808, Subaru WRX STI, BMW 318i

DREAM CAR: Still looking

WHY THE VAN? Its something different, had enough of cars, so I decided to buy a van

BUILD TIME: Four months

LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Seven months

LEE THANKS: My partner Kerry, Lloyd @ Ice Audio, Darfeild Smash Repairs, and also my Mum.

Jan 10, 2008 | NZPC

pauline

Name: Pauline Pedryc

Age: 21

Lives: Sydney

Occupation: Student

Likes: Donuts

Dislikes: False people and animal cruelty

What are your work aspirations for the future?
I’m in my final year at University studying my Bachelor in Business (events) Management, I aim to follow this path and also am open to opportunities in the modelling and television industry.

Where may have readers seen you before?
In various magazines such as Inside Sport and Ralph, also through my website (www.paulinepedryc.com)

How did you first become involved with Auto Salon?
Back in November 2003 I was featured in the Australian Auto Salon magazine (issue 14) with some breathtaking shots

If you drive, what do you drive?
A red Honda Civic

Is your car modified (and how) or do you plan to modify it?
I’m talking to the guys at Auto Salon for their expert advice.

If you had a choice, what would it be: A slammed Chrysler 300C on 24-inch chrome rims, or a 700hp Skyline GT-R and why?
Definitely the Skyline for its awesome power.

Drifting, drag racing, or show! which one does it for you and why?
Drifting, because I love the way the car moves smoothly around the track. But I think the show cars do it for me too — you can see a lot of time and effort has gone into those cars.

Describe your perfect Saturday from start to end.
I would start the day with a jog around the park with my dogs, then have my friends over for breakfast — pancakes, strawberries and cream served with champagne and orange juice. I’d have them out by midday, head to the markets for some bargain shopping, then finish the afternoon at the day spa for a relaxing two hour massage. In the evening I would have friends over for a candle-lit dinner with fine foods and wine. Then I would finish the evening cuddled up around a log fire. Boy do I like to dream!

If you had to leave town and could only take three things, what would they be?
My car, my credit card and my bikini.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
I was standing up giving a speech in a business class when I noticed I had my jean zipper undone.

If there was one moment in time you would change, what would it be?
Stop all wars and rid the world of starvation.

What does it take for a guy to win you over?
A nice personality and some nice words.

How many dates until the deal is complete?
Deal?

Are you personally modified at all?
Not at all. What you see is what you get.

Are you more a stay at home and watch a DVD kind of girl, or big night out with friends girl?
When I’m studying I like to stay at home and watch a favourite movie.

You’ll be coming to New Zealand for the Auto Salon. Are you looking forward to it?
Very much so. I can’t wait to jump on the plane and see New Zealand. It will be my first visit and I hope to meet many new people.

We look forward to meeting you also.

Get your own photoshoot by the professional team at Parkside. Click here to find out more.

Jan 10, 2008 | NZPC

NZV8 News Manfeild NZGP Ready 100108

Manfeild is up to pace with preparation for the New Zealand Grand Prix.

The circuit and facilities are to a standard the region can be proud of, Manfeild Park Trust chairman Ben Vanderkolk said.

“We’re all go for a great Grand Prix.

“The circuit is looking fantastic as result of many months of hard work. I’ve been hugely impressed by the effort put in by staff, contractors and volunteers.”

The contractors who had worked over the Christmas holiday break to ensure the race control tower would be in commission deserved special mention.

The $1.3 million facility, replacing a building that dated back to the circuit’s opening in October of 1973, was erected in just three and a half months.

Jason from Humphries construction prepares to attack the last steel girder with the trusty Higgins Hough. Image from Manfield Park Motorsports Website

The tower houses pit lane garages, two hospitality suites and, on the top floor, race control facilities and a commentary booth.

The top floor is cantilevered to provide an optimum view and the roof deck has been designed to cater for live television broadcast.

The Grand Prix is the premier race for the Toyota Racing Series, New Zealand’s fastest championship class. Sunday’s race is the world’s first green GP, so-named because TRS has gone to an environmentally-friendly E85 ethanol-dominant fuel.

Manfeild would see some exciting racing, Mr Vanderkolk said.

Wanganui 17-year-old Earl Bamber had obviously come to the fore with his Lady Wigram Trophy victory at Ruapuna last weekend.

The New Zealand Grand Prix was even more sought-after.

“It’s the big prize, the one everyone wants. I know we’re going to see some close and thrilling action.”

Manfeild has host rights for the prestigious race in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The build-up to the NZGP begins this week with drivers involved in community-minded fun events in the region.

They’ll spend Thursday morning taking a high and low ropes course at the Leisureplex outdoors pursuits centre in Palmerston North then will play an afternoon tournament at the Feilding Golf Club, a fund-raiser for the Child Cancer Foundation with a new Toyota among prizes.

Friday’s schedule starts with the traditional 6.30-8.30am business breakfast in Palmerston North, culminating with demonstration runs by several TRS cars along Walding St — closed off to other traffic, of course!

That night there’s a gala dinner at Toyota New Zealand’s Roberts Line headquarters.

Saturday sees qualifying and racing on the circuit, followed by a street party in Feilding from 5pm to 10pm.

The NZGP meeting is value-priced for families as well as individual fans, with tickets costing between $25 and $35.

Tickets can be secured online through the Motorsport New Zealand website (www.motorsport.org.nz) or locally through Feilding Promotions, I-Site Palmerston North, regional Toyota franchises — including Manawatu Toyota in Palmerston North and TRC Toyota in Feilding — and from the Manfeild office, located in the Manfeild stadium.

Source: Manfeild

Jan 9, 2008 | NZPC

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The first time it’ll be in the South Island, so get yourself to AutoX

23 and 24 February will see Canterbury Rugby League Park transformed into the biggest automotive festival to hit the country. With AutoX in its third year now it has a massive show in store.

The festival will kick off on Saturday morning with crowd favourites like FMX, car show, RC car racing, swimsuit comp and motorbikes, as well as some exciting new features which are sure to gain a massive interest throughout the city including our very own Performance Car Magazine 2008 yearbook cover car which will be unveiled in the South Island for the first time.

Another new feature of AutoX is the introduction of DriftX. NZ’s top drifters will face off in the first rounds of the DriftX Car-park Battle Series.

AutoX has also been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to host the first official “South Island Motorcycle Expo” – an area designated to the innovation and beauty of American, Japanese and European motorcycles and represented by NZ’s leading motorcycle manufacturers.

Being focussed on attracting a broader range of spectators, AutoX will bring more diversity to the show than has been seen before, including a vast range of boats and toys like hi-fi, fishing tackle, hunting gear and sports equipment. The car show has also been expanded to include more exotics, new models and classics. The latest in hybrid vehicle technology will be showcased with a test circuit in the Westpac Arena car-park allowing for those who are serious about the environment to get behind the wheel and some incentives to attract the yet to be seen Hotrod community would see the venue bursting at the seams.

On Saturday evening, as the exhibitors close up, and the action subsides, the fun will be just beginning at the AutoX Fuelling Station, with the beginning of Rockfest. Five hours of live music will have hundreds rocking into the early hours, with the company of the beautiful Jim Beam Party Crew, and Jim Beam specials on the hour, every hour.

Day 2 will cater to the families, with skydivers, bouncy castle and face-painting for the kids, not to mention some of the biggest and best carnival rides around and a number of entertainers including fire-breather, man of stone and Big Boots The Clown. Sunday will also feature the finals to all disciplines.

Jan 8, 2008 | NZPC

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The VW Cup concept is already in several countries in Europe, plus Japan and South Africa. Now there’s an SCCA-sanctioned race series in the USA featuring Jetta TDi diesels with a whopping US$350,000 potential prize purse if you win the championship and get signed to a professional race team within six months. Drivers have to be between 16-26. All cars are supplied and prepared by Volkswagen to ensure it’s driver talent, not the amount of money they can throw at the car that decides the race results.

The Jetta is a 4-cylinder turbo-diesel pushing out 170hp and 400Nm of torque. It uses VW’s dual-clutch DSG gearbox, which means lightning-quick changes, and plenty of grip from the sticky 210-width tyres that wrap 18-inch wheels. One disappointment, though, is the inclusion of ABS – braking is a skill that every driver should learn, and ABS just means that corner speed becomes pretty much the deciding factor.

As far as we can tell, it doesn’t cost to enter, but you have to do a written and video submission, which means VW is looking for pretty people.

Jan 8, 2008 | NZPC

Try doing this after a few shandies

In-game advertising is the new way to get to the younger generation and in a first, the Scottish government is placing virtual billboards in driving and sports games warning of the dangers of drink driving. Soon, all sorts of road safety messages could appear…but hopefully not ones about speeding (it would be kind of ridiculous in a racing game!)

It’s costing the Scottish government around NZ$25,000 to insert the ads in the Xbox games. Apparently 73% of UK 15-24 year-olds have a gaming console in their home (though, that’s all consoles, not just Xbox).

Driving games to carry the ads include Need for Speed: Carbon, Need for Speed: proStreet and Project Gotham Racing 4.