NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

Mov­ing to an­other coun­try can be one of the most stress­ful things some­one can un­der­take in their life­time. Hav­ing to farewell friends and fam­ily, switch jobs, gather and re­lo­cate ev­ery­thing you’ve ac­quired, it can all be a bit daunt­ing, even if it’s some­thing that’s been in the pipe­line for some time. Ad­di­tion­ally, it could be said that one of the most chal­leng­ing as­pects of im­mi­gra­tion is re-es­tab­lish­ing a solid cir­cle of mates in a for­eign coun­try. This is some­thing, how­ever, that is made con­sid­er­ably eas­ier by re­al­iz­ing a com­mon in­ter­est — in Dean Ropiha’s case, a love for pis­ton­less Maz­das.

Birds of a feather flock to­gether, and when Dean shifted to Aus­tralia a lit­tle over eight years ago, it wasn’t go­ing to be long be­fore he found his way into the Queens­land ro­tary scene. Hav­ing left New Zealand with fresh im­prints of a cer­tain RX-3 (Bren­don Smith’s ‘ROT8N3’, NZPC 215) in his mem­ory, he knew Mazda own­er­ship was some­thing he’d have to pursue. As he re­calls, “I re­mem­ber see­ing this coupé, and I thought, ‘I want one, bad!’”

As is not un­com­mon with a build of this na­ture, it took a couple of cars and sev­eral re­align­ments of the goal posts, so to speak, be­fore the 808 set­tled into the build we see to­day. “I bought a two-door hatch first,” Dean ex­plained, “Re­built the whole car and put a 12A bridge port in it. It was fairly rough, but I built it into a pretty sick hatch.” How­ever the end re­sult wasn’t quick enough for Dean’s lik­ing, and fol­low­ing a few deals amongst mates within the crew, he found him­self the proud owner of a ’76 Mazda 808.

It orig­i­nally sported a pis­ton mo­tor, like all ex­ports of the same model, but the heart of the wagon had al­ready been re­placed with an NA 13B set-up, though re­gard­less the whole car was soon put

through a se­ri­ous makeover. “The build started off like most do,” Dean re­called. “I bought it from a mate in primer. Then some­how Clay (of CCC) con­vinced me we should tub it, to make it sit low. The next day the floor was cut out, and the list went on.” Fab­ri­ca­tion be­gan, which meant at­ten­tion also turned to the rest of the car. The brakes would never be up to the task of slow­ing the wagon from its new-found pace, and so were up­graded with Com­modore units which joined the oblig­a­tory elec­tronic line-lock kit. As the floor was mod­i­fied with tubs, plenty of mod­i­fi­ca­tion was also needed in the sus­pen­sion depart­ment, and a cus­tom coil-over kit and Toyshop cam­ber tops were in­stalled in the front to com­ple­ment the QA1s and rear chas­sis clip down the back. Con­trary to what you might think, the car rides really well. “I ex­pected it to be al­right, but it’s un­be­liev­able how well it drives,” Dean added.

The orig­i­nal plan for a new pow­er­house in­volved a 12A paired

with a T04 turbo, a com­bi­na­tion that even made it all the way into the en­gine bay, post fab­ri­ca­tion and paint. How­ever, that wasn’t meant to be, and the 12A was soon scrapped as Dean in­tended to run its big­ger, bad­der brother. “I heard of a good deal on a 20B, so I sold the 12A set-up to a mate for his 1200 sedan,” Dean con­tin­ued, “But be­fore I could buy the 20B I found out my wife was preg­nant, so I passed on it and de­cided to fin­ish the car off with a 13B turbo: I kind of fig­ured that if I didn’t fin­ish it off straight away, I prob­a­bly never would.” Clay at CCC was en­listed to con­struct the mo­tor, and set out putting in the hours to cre­ate some­thing that would ul­ti­mately spin a hefty 373kW at the rears. The heart of the mon­ster con­sisted of a 13B from a Se­ries 8 RX-7, which was bridge-ported, re­built, and pre­pared to han­dle the pres­sure thrown at it from a for­mi­da­ble GT42R tur­bocharger. It would be rel­a­tively sense­less to try and force that sort of power out through a frag­ile driv­e­line, and so a twin-plate clutch now sends the ponies down through a cus­tom three-inch drive­shaft to a tried-and-tested Ford nine-inch dif­fer­en­tial.

Not want­ing to skimp on the de­tails, Dean had the whole car rewired and the en­gine bay de­loomed while he was at it.

When asked about the re­ac­tions the 808 gets from the Queens­land pub­lic, he told us it gets love ev­ery time it’s driven. “Peo­ple fol­low you to get pho­tos,” Dean said, smil­ing. “Peo­ple video you while you’re driv­ing. I get the odd dis­gusted look, but most peo­ple are blown away by it.” For all in­tents and pur­poses the wagon gets taken out reg­u­larly too — it’s not un­com­mon to see it on a week­end cruise among 30 other puls­ing Maz­das, nor is Dean afraid to take it to an early-morn­ing track ses­sion. His boy Felix is into it, and as well as thrash du­ties, the 808 meets oth­ers of its kind on the road out­side kids’ birth­day par­ties, a tes­ta­ment to the unit­ing power of a com­mon love for th­ese ma­chines.


Dean opted for the 12A Sa­vanna nose cone, like many 808s, and a very sim­ple con­ver­sion to carry out

Aero­mo­tive fit­tings and braided lines have been used through­out, a de­tail

that definitely pays off when the build is com­plete

HEART MODEL: S8 Mazda RX-7 13B

Turbo, 1300cc, two-ro­tor EN­GINE: Bridge-ported plates,

stud kit, new hous­ings, ro­tors clear­anced, race bear­ings, SCR

apex, cor­ner and side seals IN­TAKE: PWR 75mm in­ter­cooler core with cus­tom-made end

tanks and pip­ing EX­HAUST: Cus­tom man­i­fold, four-inch sys­tem with cus­tom

muf­flers TURBO: Pro­boost GT42R turbo

(1.05 rear hous­ing) WASTE­GATE: Tur­bosmart

50mm FUEL: Cus­tom 80-litre drop tank

with in­ter­nal surge tank, bil­let Hol­ley lift pump, two Bosch fuel pumps, Xtreme Ro­taries fuel rails, Bosch 1700cc in­jec­tors, Aero­mo­tive ris­ing-rate FPR ECU: Microtech LT10S ECU COOL­ING: PWR ra­di­a­tor with SPAL fan, PWR oil cooler, Davies

Craig EWP EX­TRA: Air­brushed block and in­let man­i­fold, cus­tom oil catch

can and ra­di­a­tor over­flow can­is­ters, de­loomed en­gine bay, side-mounted al­ter­na­tor, Gilmer

drive belt Fab­ri­ca­tion was con­ducted with the in­tent to ride along at 45mm, which means the rear doors had to be mod­i­fied to ac­com­mo­date the depth of the tubs

SHOES WHEELS: (F) 17x6.5-inch Diezel D1Rs (R) 18x10-inch Diezel D1Rs TYRES: (F) 165/35/17 Nankang NSII (R) 265/35/18 Nankang NSII


PAINT: Nitro Blue by R.A.R Em­bossed EN­HANCE­MENTS: Re­pro 12A Sa­vanna nose cone, shaved side in­di­ca­tors, shaved side mir­rors,

win­dows tinted, tail lights and front in­di­ca­tors tinted, all chrome straight­ened and rechromed

SUP­PORT STRUTS: (F) Cus­tom coilovers, Toyshop cam­ber plates, (R) QA1 ad­justable coilovers, McDon­alds Broth­ers Rac­ing four-link and Panhard rod BRAKES: Holden Com­modore ro­tors and calipers

DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: Dean Ropiha AGE: 28 LO­CA­TION: Queens­land, Aus­tralia (Kiwi) OC­CU­PA­TION: as­phalt su­per­vi­sor BUILD TIME: 22 months LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: 3.5 years PRE­VI­OUSLY OWNED CARS: two E29A VR4s, 12A BP 323 hatch

THANKS: All the team from CCC — Cus­tom Cars by Clay for build­ing my vi­sion and its con­tin­ued sup­port with the car, an out­stand­ing group of peo­ple that I can’t rec­om­mend more. My brother-in-law Kane Don­ald­son for the amaz­ing air­brush work — the art­work in the en­gine bay and in­side the car are definitely my favourite parts — and my wife for putting up with the money I spent!

Good fuel econ­omy is some­thing this car will never achieve — the 80-litre drop tank doesn’t re­main full for very long when the pedal spends a lot of time at the floor

DRIVE GEAR­BOX: S5 RX-7 five-speed CLUTCH: Direct Clutch twin-plate clutch FLY­WHEEL: Direct Clutch DIFF: Ford nine-inch diff, 4:3 ra­tio, mini spool, 31-spline axles

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: (F) Ra­ce­pro (R) cus­tom seat to ac­com­mo­date tubs, full re­trim in suede IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: Cus­tom Speed­hut gauges, Tur­bosmart E-Boost Street, cus­tom-made al­loy dash — air­brushed to match the en­gine POWER: 372kW (500hp) ATW on 20psi

The dash is air­brushed to match the en­gine, some­thing that’s definitely unique,

and was done by Dean’s brother-in-law

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