FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - FEATURE CAR -

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.

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