IAN LATTA, AL­BANY, WA 1953 MOR­RIS VAN

> AN OLD BREAD VAN GETS A NEW LEASE ON LIFE WITH AN IN­JEC­TION OF JA­PA­NESE TECH­NOL­OGY

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AMONGST a sea of Euro­pean su­per­cars, high-revving Jap sports cars, and Aussie and US mus­cle at Mo­tul Race­wars sat the bright blue ’53 Mor­ris panel van of Ian Latta. Talk about stand­ing out like the prover­bial dog’s balls!

It had some widened steel wheels and an ex­haust that ex­ited just in front of the rear wheel, but that’s about the only hint you got that some­thing spe­cial might be hid­ing un­der the bon­net. At a guess, I would have said a hot Holden six, maybe even a V6, or pos­si­bly an SR20 or some kind of tur­bocharged four-cylin­der. Well, it was Ja­pa­nese and it was tur­bocharged, but I would never have thought of a ro­tary!

“My first car was a ’53 Mor­ris van and I al­ways wanted an­other one – you al­ways go back to what you had – but it had to be quicker this time,” Ian said. “I’ve never owned a Mazda be­fore, but when I was about 20 I heard a bridge-ported 13B go past and loved the sound.”

To make his dreams come true, Ian chose a 13B-REW mill out of a Series 6 RX-7, keep­ing the Mazda five-speed ’box and mat­ing it to a Hilux diff with 4.5:1 gears.

I saw it race a cou­ple of times and was pretty im­pressed with how well it went; not sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing the 350hp at the tyres and a kerb weight of around 800kg. If you do the maths, it would be sim­i­lar to hav­ing a Com­modore or Fal­con with 700hp at the tyres, but in some­thing with a much shorter wheel­base and the aero­dy­nam­ics of a wheelie bin.

The en­gine work was han­dled by Ro­to­mo­tion, in­clud­ing all of the pol­ish­ing and pret­ty­ing-up. From the fac­tory these en­gines ran a twin-turbo set-up, but that would never have worked in the tight con­fines of the Mor­ris’s en­gine bay, so a

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