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.
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 pÃ¨ice 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!
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
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.
Name: Pauline Pedryc
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is something different about driving a brand new car: an unfamiliar smoothness and an extra tautness that cannot be attributed to one thing in particular. However, not many of us are ever lucky enough to splash out and purchase straight from the dealer. I guess if it was your cup of tea, small cars such as a Daihatsu Micra may be affordable at around $20,000, but even if you could, would you really want to buy one?
I know which way my vote would go if given the choice between a similarly priced older performance vehicle, such as the tried and tested Evo III, over the lowly Micra. Hell, give me a crusty old $5k Civic and another $2k to spend on it and I’d be happier than my Micra-driving counterpart. If you were in a position to purchase a brand new high-performance vehicle, however, such as an Evo VII or VIII, the tables rapidly turn. To some people, the Evo III feels faster. Chances are, it’s just the harshness of power delivery, the same way an Evo III feels quicker through the bends due to its handling characteristics or the louder volume of the intake and exhaust.
Three years ago, well known Auckland-based drag racer, Reece McGregor, was fortunate enough to be looking for a brand-spanking-new toy to replace his R33 Skyline GT-R road car. To most, the obvious choice would have been a newer R34 GT-R, which is fair enough; the R34s are a great looking car with stacks of power and superb handling, not to mention street cred. The downside comes when you want to take two or more people with you, unless of course all your friends are midgets, and I don’t mean those oiled up little porn midgets either. The other thing with the GT-R is that since Reece’s R33 ran 10-second quarter miles, another GT-R just wouldn’t stack up — except of course, his dedicated drag car that currently runs eight-second passes.
So, with high power from the factory and a four-door shell a must, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII was Reece’s preferred option and needless to say, a deal was done that saw a brand new silver version in his possession. At that stage Reece was happy with the 205kW on offer from the 2000cc 4G63, so he set about making the car look more appealing. First on the hit list were the stock 17-inch wheels that didn’t fill the car’s large wheel arches to quite the right standard. In their place now sit a set of 19×8-inch Advanti Stilettos in hyper silver and coated in ultra-sticky Dunlop FM901s. The wheels themselves are not overstated, but suit the colour and shape of the vehicle better than any other wheel could. As the Evo series were mostly designed to become rally cars, the ride height also left a little to be desired, especially when combined with the now larger wheels. So to bring things back to an acceptable level, a set of Cusco coil-overs were added, and to stiffen things up, Cusco strut braces were fitted on both ends.
At this stage, Reece had become used to the power — or in his view, lack of. To cure this was never going to be a hard task, however, with well-known performance mechanic and automotive genius Arnie Nguyen working for Reece’s drag racing team. As Arnie and Reece both knew, reliability was essential and the decision was made to build a solid bottom end for the vehicle before any form of power increase took place. To do this JE pistons are now connected to Eagle rods, which are in turn attached to the standard Lancer crank via ARP main bolts.
While in bits, the bearings were replaced to ensure this motor would last no matter what was dealt to it. Now sandwiched between the forged bottom end and the head is an HKS head gasket, held in place by ARP head studs. As the Evo is easily capable of producing more than its rated 205kW, the head was deemed good enough to be kept stock, including the camshafts. As with any motor, the way to gain power is through forcing more air and fuel into the combustion chambers, so it should be no surprise that’s exactly what Arnie and Reece chose to do.
Starting with an A’PEXi air filter, oxygen is inhaled via a custom intake through to a Garrett GT3540 ball bearing turbo mounted to one of Arnie’s custom built manifolds.
Mounted to the top of the manifold, but branching out over the opposite side from the turbo is a Tial 38mm wastegate that vents its fury straight to the atmosphere below. Attached to the exhaust side of the turbo is an off-the-shelf 80mm stainless steel A’PEXi exhaust, which is surprisingly quiet considering it contains only the single muffler.
Before the charged air can fight its way into the standard intake manifold, it is given somewhat of a chill by the giant-sized A’PEXi front-mount intercooler, that is the only giveaway that things are not stock below the hood. A lot of the smoothness of newer vehicles can be attributed to the superior tuning of the car’s ECU, as this is where most advances have been made. With that said, the standard ECU would not be overly happy trying to run with this car’s modifications, despite the fuel system remaining standard. To avoid losing all the hard work done by the computer geeks at Mitsi, and to retain full use of creature comforts such as air conditioning, a piggyback computer was given the call-up.
The A’PEXi Power FC chosen managed to not only retain the driveability of the vehicle, but to also provide good air and fuel ratios throughout the entire rev range. Keeping boost levels in check is a Trust Profec B boost controller, which for drag duties has seen boost as high as 24psi. That’s right; Reece’s nice drive car has been run on C16 and given a good thrash down the strip. Sure it my not be as quick as his other toy, but that one is off getting sorted to run seven-second passes. With the car in full street trim, including Alpine MP3 headunit, Alpine amplifier and Infiniti components, Reece has managed a best of 11.41@124mph, which is not bad considering the car’s 1400kg bulk.
Of course, with Reece’s quick reaction times and hard launches, the standard clutch wouldn’t have lasted a single pass, so before the car was dyno’ed-up, the gearbox was fitted with a Cusco twin plate clutch. Aiding the lightning fast gear shits is an aftermarket short shift kit that is so short-throw in fact, that during the photo shoot, I thought it wasn’t in gear. When out on the road, the white-faced 300kph speedo effortlessly flies to the higher end of the scale with the smoothness of a factory vehicle, but is far more fun and almost defies the car’s 542hp.
The combination of the Cusco suspension, low profile tyres and the super supportive Recaro seats would usually lead to a harsh and uncomfortable ride, but again, the car is surprisingly supple and a pleasure to be in. It almost makes me wonder what the Daihatsu Micra would be like to drive rather than my Lancer, but then again 11-second quarter miles will always be more fun than 11-second 0-100s, no matter how harsh they are.
Unfortunately, it seems Reece doesn’t agree with me, as by the time you read this, the car will be in the hands of its new owner. As to what Reece is getting next, as the plate says, you will just have to wait and see. Lets just say, it’s got more cylinders and more power and, you guessed it, it’s another brand-spanker. Waiting for seven-second passes must be tough!
2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII
ENGINE: 4G63 2.0L turbo, JE pistons, Eagle rods, HKS head gasket, ARP head studs, ARP main bolts, A’PEXi air filter, Garrett GT3540 ball bearing, custom exhaust manifold, Tial 38mm wastegate, Apexi intercooler, Apexi 80mm stainless steel exhaust, A’PEXi Power FC computer, Trust Profec-B boost controller,
DRIVELINE: Stock 5-speed gearbox, Cusco twin plate clutch, short shifter
SUSPENSION/BRAKES: Cusco adjustable rebound/bump shocks, Cusco springs, Cusco strut braces. Brakes: Factory four-wheel disc, ABS, EBD
WHEELS AND TYRES: 19×8-inch Advanti Stiletto with 245/35R19 Dunlop LM701
EXTERIOR: Factory Evo VII
INTERIOR: Factory Recaro seats, Momo steering wheel, Ralliart 300km/h cluster
ICE: Alpine MP3 player, Alpine Amp, Infiniti components
PERFORMANCE: 542hp@ the flywheel @24psi boost, 11.41@124mph
OCCUPATION: Heat treater
PREVIOUSLY OWNED CARS: Various GT-R Skylines, RX-7, company hacks
DREAM CAR: Still looking
WHY THE EVO?: I wanted something with 4 doors for a change
BUILD TIME: 3 years
LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: 3 years
REECE THANKS: Arnie, Ronnie @ RSL, Chee @ Dynamic Automotive, Gizzmo Electronics