Ford Escort Sport 1600 but that car was stolen on his 16th birthday. Not long after the Escort had been swiped, Tim and his father attended the Ellerslie Intermarque Concours show.
Although the Intermarque Concours was predominantly for European cars, during the ’80s a few Japanese car clubs were making inroads into the show, and Tim remembers being stopped in his tracks when he stumbled across the Mazda Rotary Enthusiasts’ Club’s display featuring a pair of RX-3S. It was love at first sight — his first rotary-powered car beckoned. Following this show, Tim used the $1500 insurance pay-out from the stolen Escort to buy a 13B-engined RX-2 coupé – these cars really were that cheap to buy back in the early to mid ’80s.
Over the following years Tim followed the Japanese car-tuning trends of the day, and each successive Mazda rotary he owned was subjected to ever-increasing levels of changes and modifications. The culmination of all this activity eventually led to an extensively customized RX-3 show-car — an aquamarine coupé boasting a glittering, chrome-highlighted engine bay. Tim still retains this car’s distinctive personalized registration plate — UWANIT.
Gradually, he began to shift his automotive passion from Japanese to Us-sourced classics — and over a sixyear period he owned several Mustangs and Chevrolet trucks. However, after deciding to sell his ’51 Chev truck in order to build a house, Tim felt the desire to return to his original motoring passion, and decided it was time to reignite his love for rotary-powered Mazdas by finding another RX-3.
Perfect car — perfect story
Initially this seemed like an easy ask, and he reckoned that he would be able to source a good RX-3 coupé for around $20,000 — but what Tim hadn’t counted on was the simple fact that while he’d been driving around in V8 cars and trucks, the price of RX-3S had doubled.
Making the search even more difficult, after years of modifying Mazdas, Tim was now becoming passionate about totally original cars. The dream was to locate an all original, matching numbers, New Zealand–new, black-and-silver-plate RX-3 coupé, but Tim quickly began to realize that his quest was going to be near impossible. Over the next six months, he drove all over the North Island and took two trips to the South Island looking for the right car — all to no avail.
Finally, salvation came via a friend in Melbourne who owned one of Tim’s old RX-3 coupés. He put Tim onto a guy in Sydney who he believed owned an original numbers-matching restored RX-3 coupé in Flare Yellow — perhaps one of the most desirable colours for these cars.