THE RES­UR­REC­TION OF A LEG­END

NZ Performance Car - - Contents - WORDS: MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: MIKEY MAY­ERS

Cred­ited with one of the most iconic burnouts in Kiwi his­tory, the ex-13B PP-scream­ing 808 es­tate ‘FURSTY’ has re­turned from the dead. Orig­i­nally built and pi­loted by none other than ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett, it dis­ap­peared for many years be­fore be­ing re­stored to al­most-ex­act ’04 spec by its new owner, Ste­fan — line-locker, rowdy burnouts, and all.

THE NAME ‘MAD MIKE’ WHID­DETT FIRST BE­CAME SYN­ONY­MOUS WITH THE ROTARY ENGINE AF­TER HIS SKIDFEST AN­TICS IN A CER­TAIN BLUE 808. THAT CAR IS BACK — WITH A NEW OWNER AND LOOK­ING AS FRESH AS THE DAY MIKE PULSED ONTO THE VELO­DROME, OPENED THE DOOR, AND HIT THIRD GEAR

The year was 2004 and the venue was the Manukau Velo­drome — an arena gen­er­ally in­hab­ited by Ly­cra-clad cy­clists was awash with 1000s of car en­thu­si­asts with a blood lust for burnt rub­ber. A blue 808 wagon made its way through the tun­nel and emerged onto the pad, erupt­ing in a cloud of smoke and wall of noise that only a 13B pe­riph­eral port (PP) could pro­duce. Be­hind the wheel was a young ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett — then a some­what un­known FMX rider who pro­ceeded to stamp his name into the rotary halls of fame, helped in part by a sin­gle wild stunt, one that is still talked about to­day. Mid skid in his Mazda 808 wagon pow­ered by an all-new and very rau­cous Kiwi RE 13B PP, Mike brought the car to a stand­still, flicked on the line lock and got out, all the while keep­ing that 13B singing. The crowd ab­so­lutely lost it. Mike stole the show, won the event, and set the in­ter­net fo­rums alight — yes, this was pre-Face­book days — and a leg­end was born.

Mike found the sport of drifting soon af­ter, and was forced to sell the 808 to fund his new-found pas­sion. “It was the hard­est own­er­ship­pa­per sign­ing I had ever done, when hand­ing the keys over to Nathan Karatau (rest in piece), but as soon as I saw drifting at Pukekohe, I knew that was the real prov­ing ground,” Mad Mike re­called.

Af­ter it left his pos­ses­sion, the car passed through count­less sets of hands and fell into dis­re­pair, un­til it was res­cued by Carl Thomp­son around five years ago, who then un­der­took a huge re­build. Carl gave it a new lease on life, new paint, new wheels, and a re­built PP. But it was soon sold again and con­tin­ued to be passed around as all the good bits were re­moved, one af­ter the other. “I saw it pop up on Trade Me a few times in a pretty bad state — all the good stuff had been taken out and it was thrashed,” Mike said. “I have thought about buy­ing it back a few times.”

Know­ing that the car was likely to rarely rock a bon­net, Ste­fan re­placed ev­ery bolt he could with a stain­less ver­sion

But Mike wasn’t the only one who saw the Trade Me list­ing last time around. Ste­fan Collins also spot­ted the wagon, quickly re­al­iz­ing it was the very 808 he had fallen in love with in 2004. “I have al­ways idol­ized this car, ever since I was 14 when I was at Skidfest, and then see­ing it in NZPC. I have fol­lowed it ever since, un­til it seem­ingly dropped off the face of the planet,” Ste­fan ex­plained. The car had left such an im­pres­sion on the 14-year-old that early Maz­das be­came his pas­sion. He even searched for three years in the hopes of find­ing an 808 wagon that he could build up as his own. How­ever, it wasn’t un­til he gave up that search af­ter find­ing noth­ing suit­able that ‘FURSTY’ popped up for sale, look­ing a lit­tle worse for wear. “I knew it had been painted white at some stage, and looked fur­ther into it and found [out that] it was in fact the orig­i­nal car. I thought to my­self, in­stead of mak­ing my own, I would re­store it to the 2004 Mad Mike spec,” he told us.

A deal was bro­kered, and, af­ter hop­ping is­lands north and driv­ing the 808 back home to Sed­don, Ste­fan wasted no time in strip­ping it down to a bare shell to sur­vey the dam­age. It had eas­ily been through 10 own­ers since Mike, and it was show­ing its age. A bit of rust was rear­ing its ugly head, and plenty of bog hid panel dam­age from what surely must have been popped tyres and late night an­tics. A good mate who is also a panel beater was en­listed, and he went about pulling all the pan­els back into line and also restitch­ing the front back into place. Us­ing noth­ing more than a trusty 2005 NZ Per­for­mance Car year­book and a few im­ages on the net as a guide, the ‘smurf blue’ was recre­ated and laid on in­side and out. But the resto went much fur­ther than that. Ste­fan con­tacted Mad Mike and his part­ner, Toni, and ex­plained his plans. Mike not only still had all the orig­i­nal graphic files on hand, but was also more than happy to help out, and even of­fered to fit them for Ste­fan, though time was not on his side, so a mate in­stalled them in­stead.

Now only weeks away from com­ple­tion, and look­ing just as it did back in ’04, com­plete with blue ro­tor hous­ings, blue roll-cage pad­ding, and the deep-dish Mod­gies, disaster struck. “My prop­erty took a ham­mer­ing dur­ing the Novem­ber 2016 earth­quake. It shook us pretty bad, and when I opened my shed door, I couldn’t be­lieve my eyes: my road bike had been rag­dolled be­tween my RX-4 and the 808,” said Ste­fan. The right-hand side of the 808 needed to be pan­elled and re­painted, and the graph­ics reap­plied. An­other call-out to Mad Mike, and a fresh set of graph­ics was on its way to Sed­don, while lo­cal busi­nesses pitched in to get the re­pairs done in time for the car’s de­but at Ti­maru’s V 4&Rotary South Is­land Champs, which were only two weeks out.

See­ing the car re­turn in such a high stan­dard of fin­ish surely brought back mem­o­ries for many a rotary and Mad Mike fan at the show. Ste­fan was even us­ing it for its in­tended pur­pose, and throw­ing down some skids, and he ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to Mike to get be­hind the wheel once again, although it was po­litely de­clined. Mad Mike did say, “I’m yet to see it in per­son, but I can’t wait. It brings back so many mem­o­ries [of] good times with the RK boys. Ste­fan of­fered me a drive, but I don’t want to wreck some­body else’s toy — I’ll stick to wreck­ing my own.”

Ste­fan says the project still has a lit­tle way to go un­til it’s a com­pleted ma­chine. Cur­rently, it’s rock­ing a full-cut 13B bridge­port with a 48mm IDA, and he hopes to one day soon re­place that with a PP, to re­turn the car to the state Mike had it in, in 2004 — but Mike did have five odd bridge­ports in there be­fore the PP, so in time we’re sure Ste­fan will get there and com­plete the dream that he had back at 14 years old — to own the in­fa­mous FURSTY.

SHOES WHEELS: 13x7-inch Man­gel Modgie TYRES: 215/50R13 Bridge­stone Ea­ger Sus­pen­sion-wise, the car runs a clas­sic up­grade in the form of dou­ble sway bars up front. All the bushes have been re­placed with No­lathane, and the rear chas­sis rails have been notched (by Mike) to al­low su­per-low ride heights

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: (F) KW, E Race har­nesses STEER­ING WHEEL: Momo IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: Auto Me­ter gauges through­out EX­TRA: Cus­tom al­loy dash by Mad Mike, six-point roll cage, al­loy door cards by Mad Mike PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: Untested — zero trac­tion on Eagers any­way FUEL: Dirty old 91 The level of de­tail in the engine bay is pretty damn close to the ’04 spec, right down to the blue hoses and the lo­ca­tion of the over­flow

Ste­fan con­tacted Mad Mike, who hap­pened to have all the sticker files on hand to per­fectly repli­cate the ’04 look. The only slight tweak Mike made was swap­ping the rear win­dow logo on his RK char­ac­ter from Shift to his own logo

DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: Ste­fan ‘Sherm’ Collins AGE: 26 LO­CA­TION: Marl­bor­ough OC­CU­PA­TION: Car sales­man BUILD TIME: Three months LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Six months

THANKS: ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett and Toni Cook; Ryan Brown, Ewan Macken­zie; Brian McCann; Troy McEl­hin­ney; Leigh Church; Kaerian Bur­ton; Alex MacAskill; Blake Jack­son; Lu­ciano Zuc­chetto; An­drew Sloan; DS Panel and Paint, Blen­heim; Mag and Turbo Blen­heim; Sloan En­gi­neer­ing; Ra­di­a­tor Ser­vices; Smith and Smith Blen­heim; BB Signs; my fi­ancée, Latoga Neame; Daniel Thomp­son Ste­fan couldn’t re­sist check­ing out the line locker in true Mad Mike style

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