FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

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

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