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Don’t get us wrong here, guys; sure, some re­ally high-qual­ity cars are built in New Zealand, but we sim­ply can’t com­pete with the level of elite show cars that our AN­ZAC broth­ers and sis­ters are turn­ing out across the ditch. Th­ese ma­chines are in­cred­i­ble. They go well be­yond the nor­mal ex­pec­ta­tion for a build, to a level of flaw­less per­fec­tion, all in aid of sat­is­fy­ing the judge’s crit­i­cal eye. His­tor­i­cally, the elite class has been one dom­i­nated by V8s, but ev­ery blue moon, along comes an im­port that knocks them all out of the park. Last year, that car was John Saad’s RX-3 — a ve­hi­cle that fu­eled plenty of key­board war­riors on­line wars about whether or not it can ac­tu­ally be driven. Love it or hate it, there sim­ply isn’t an­other RX-3 that can touch this thing when it comes to qual­ity, fit and fin­ish; hell, it has most other elite cars re­vers­ing right back into their av­er­age, or­di­nary garages.

At its de­but, the Syd­ney Mo­torEx judges awarded it the Top Judged Elite Award. John then took on board all judges’ feed­back, mod­i­fy­ing the car ahead of the big­gest show on the Aus­tralian cal­en­dar — Sum­mer­nats — where he walked away with the very pres­ti­gious Top Judged car in the Elite Class af­ter win­ning Top Un­der­car­riage/Driv­e­line, Top En­gine Bay, Top In­te­rior, Top Spe­cial Ef­fects Paint, and Top Pro Cus­tom. It was look­ing very promis­ing for John to take over­all Grand Cham­pion, but a fault with the al­terna­tor would stop him fin­ish­ing the driv­ing events.

A tro­phy haul like that, at what is a V8-ori­en­tated event (and with the cal­i­bre of show cars vy­ing for the elite awards), is sim­ply un­heard of for a ro­tary. Achieve­ments like this make the team at NZPC want to hat tip John and those in­volved in the four-year process.

The car’s jour­ney has been well planned, and it is no ac­ci­dent that John’s tro­phy cabi­net is now stuffed full; he has achieved ex­actly what he set out to do over the four years. Nei­ther is this a story of rags to riches by any means. What was cut up was, in fact, a one-owner im­mac­u­late ex­am­ple, some­thing John says caused peo­ple ter­mi­nal cringe at the fact he was tak­ing the grinder to it. “Peo­ple would tell me I can’t chop up some­thing so nice. But I would tell them ‘It’s my car, and I can do what I want!’ I didn’t want to start with some­thing that was al­ready half chopped up, or rough. I was build­ing an elite-level car and wanted a good base,” John tells NZPC.

There were re­ally only a few key work­shops in­volved with the project; Chris from C S En­gi­neer­ing fab­ri­cated all the cus­tom metal com­po­nents be­fore it was handed to Cus­tom Body­works, who took care of the panel and paint. Mick from Sew­time con­structed the in­te­rior, and SCR built the en­gine. In to­tal it took four years to com­plete; four years of full-time hard graft that be­gan with noth­ing more than a roof, rear quar­ters and door jambs sit­ting on a jig. It’s not mut­ton dressed as lamb, it’s pure hand­crafted beauty that needs no smoke and mir­rors to hide im­per­fec­tions — it’s sim­ply flaw­less. “For me I think that for the next two or three years, the RX-3 will still be up there with what­ever comes out. Ob­vi­ously there will even­tu­ally be cars that come out and take it to a whole other level, but our aim was to take it to the ex­treme and I think we did that,” John ex­plained.

So what’s next for this car? Well, Mo­torEx 2015 is com­ing up — John’s home­town event — which he re­ally wants to win. Then there is Sum­mer­nats in Jan­uary, where John has a re­ally good chance at win­ning the cov­eted Grand Cham­pion. Be­tween then and now, the RX-3 will be out cruis­ing Syd­ney’s streets, prov­ing that it’s no show pony and how you see it at a show is how you will see it on the street; some­thing that we think is very cool, and will keep peo­ple guess­ing for years to come. It might not float your boat, but we chal­lenge you to build some­thing of this qual­ity, fit and fin­ish. We don’t want to say it’s un­achiev­able, but its cer­tainly an achieve­ment that few can ever hope to meet.

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