Talk to any middle-aged Kiwi classic car enthusiast and you’ll usually uncover a common thread — they all probably had posters of something like a Porsche 930, Ferrari Testarossa, or Lamborghini Countach hanging on their bedroom walls when they were kids.
Those supercar posters definitely took pride of place for the owner of our featured Porsche 911 and provided the catalyst for his continuing passion for motor racing and exotic cars, Mark Hellier’s love of motor sport having begun while he was still at high school. At that time, he started racing motorcycles along with his good friend Scott Buckley — son of Bill Buckley — in 250cc production-class racing and in the British, European, American Racing (BEARS) class.
Mark enjoyed his motorbike racing from 1988 through to 1992 — then, although still in his early 20s, he genuinely felt he was getting a little long in the tooth to continue this form of motor sport.
At that same time, he had a good friend who was racing a Nissan Sentra Cup Car, and Mark decided to give it a try. However, after a few sessions, he felt it was
The lure of the 911
Mark still had fond memories of those iconic bedroomwall posters, especially the ones depicting Porsche’s turbocharged 930 with its intoxicating styling, superwide rear wheel arches, and massive rear wing. He’d always held the dream to one day own an air-cooled 911 — as a young lad, he’d even constructed and meticulously painted models of this iconic Porsche, as so many of us did back in the day.
As the years flew by, the usual procession of new cars arrived, along with fresh family and work commitments, until one day Mark reached the conclusion that what actually excited him about driving cars was that intimate connection between driver, car, and road. With the modern cars he was driving at the time, he felt that too much technology was intervening and that upset the driving experience. It was time to search for motoring nirvana — and, for Mark, that would come in the shape of the Porsche 911 he’d always dreamed of owning.
The hunt was on, and it didn’t take long for a 1987
given that the 911 had been sitting in Andy’s barn for a while. Luckily, the Porsche only required a few simple things attending to — including wiring, headlights, tail-lights, and windscreen wipers — to get it back to road-legal specifications
The only item left to install was a rally meter, and, by May 2014, Mark and his co-driver Glenn were ready to tackle their first three-day Targa North Island event — effectively a revamped Targa Rotorua with an extra day added, in celebration of 20 years of Targa for those unable to compete in the main Targa South Island event later in the year.
That first event was indeed a family affair, with the entire family, brother-in-law and four kids as the service crew, plus a few mates pitching in to help out wherever possible. According to Mark, it was a fantastic experience and the first step on the Targa learning curve for all involved.
Mark couldn’t believe the camaraderie and help his fledgling team received from the other competitors along the way, especially from his fellow Classic Car– category competitors.
During that event, the 911’s only mechanical issue was the loss of third gear on the very first special stage — although that didn’t deter them from finishing the event, which was Mark’s main objective.
With their first Targa done and dusted, Mark and Glenn now had their eyes firmly fixed on competing in the main Targa South Island later that same year. Not only would that event be a milestone, celebrating Targa’s 20th anniversary, but it would also be the first time Targa would run in the South Island, offering competitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and a series of superb driving roads.
However, before Mark and Glenn could even consider driving the 911 through the South Island, there were a few issues that required attention. The first item on the list was to completely rebuild the gearbox to ensure it wouldn’t drop a gear again — as well, Mark installed new skid trays, improved the ventilation and added International Race of Champions (IROC)style bumpers front and rear to give the car a fresher look.
Targa South Island
This was a whole new experience for Mark and Glenn, and, without family members on board, a permanent