RX-2 PERFECTION FROM EVERY ANGLE
B evan Aymes grew up following his rally-mad petrolhead dad around the countryside as he threw gravel rooster tails in his various rally cars, and, combined, it was his dad’s competitive exploits, Mazda rotaries, and especially the RX-3s driven by the likes of Rod Millen, that really piqued his interest. Twenty years on, the love hadn’t faded, and as he’d already owned a long list of performance cars — everything from Golfs to Hondas — he decided it was time to finally build a period-perfection Mazda RX-3 sedan. We featured that car way back in Issue No. 190, and today it shares shed space with the RX-2 you see here.
While everyone has a different story about why or how they have ended up owning a certain car, for Bevan, the wheels were set in motion the day he went shopping for personal plates for the RX-3. After settling on the plate (76 RX3), his curiosity lead him to punch in ‘74 RX2’, and, to his amazement, it was also available, so, naturally, he grabbed that one too. Then all that was needed was an actual RX-2 to wear it.
But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find there was more than just buying a P-plate to persuade him. The truth is, his RX-3 is a matching-numbers machine (right down to the driveline) — something that’s very rare in this day and age. Out of respect for the RX-3’s survival through the treacherous ’90s and 2000s and its emergence without too much hacking having taken place, Bevan decided he wanted to keep it that way. Buying an already modified RX-2 meant that he could have no qualms about chopping, changing, and modifying it further to build his ultimate vision of the perfect streeter.
The magnitude of the project ended up far exceeding what he ever imagined or intended, but, as we all know — nine times out of 10, that’s just how it goes. One thing leads to the next, which leads to the next, and Bevan’s RX-2 was no different. So, four years later, a true show-stopper rolled out of his workshop and began taking trophies.
The RX-2 he started with is no stranger to these pages; it’s the star of one of those iconic NZ Performance Car posters from the early 2000s, one you might even have on the shed wall. Back then, it was known as ‘UZNGAS’ and rocked 17-inch Lensos with factory forest green paint. Sometime after its shoot all those years ago, the Lensos were replaced with three-piece FR Simmons, and it’s these that drew Bevan to the Series 2.
Once the new car was home and sitting next to the RX-3, you would think all would be right with the world, but something wasn’t quite as it should be, as Bevan explains: “The two green cars together just didn’t work. And I had always wanted a Blue RX. So I sent it to be painted.”
Having worked with Mikey from MKS Airbrushing and Leon from Class A Kustoms on the RX-3 build, he called on them again. The original plan was simply to paint it and swap the engine for an injected unit for peace of mind. But either Bevan has a very rubber arm or his ideas about what a basic street-car build are bonkers. The car was placed on a rotisserie, and the extent of the panel work that ensued went well beyond the more visible parts of the shell — such as to the engine bay, which alone took up over 100 hours of panel work. Nothing escaped Mikey’s hammer and dolly; even parts like the inner guards and rear seat back were taken care of.
Candy, chrome, and polish — the underneath of the RX-2 is as immaculately presented as the topside. To help the candy withstand the harsh New Zealand roads, first underseal was laid down, then the candy House of Kolor paint, and, finally, a ceramic clear The chromed bellhousing is actually a Green Brothers Racing steel item mated to the Supra five-speed
After 100s of hours sunk into the shell, it deserved a special lick of paint. Bevan’s searching turned up House of Kolor Shimrin2 paint, which Mikey wasn’t sold on until he saw it in person at the SEMA Show. Like the panel work that preceded it, barely a surface escaped the candy gun — inside, outside, or underneath. But painting the underside with expensive candy blue required there to be a little extra protection in the form of underseal and a ceramic clear coat to withstand the punishment that New Zealand roads deliver — it’s easy to forget when looking at this car that it’s actually built not as a show car but as a driver.
True to the original plan, an injected motor can be found in the bay, although it, too, was taken one step further, with the addition of boost. It was a package too good to turn down: someone had gone overboard on speccing out a combination only to pull the pin at the last minute.
The intercooler was crafted by Bevan to be hidden from view — split vertically, it both feeds and exits over the top of the custom radiator. The HDi GT intercooler pipe clamps and an array of other components were sent to Speedflow in Australia to ensure the anodized blue matched the -AN fittings perfectly
While going turbo was never the intention, the fact that the unit included the likes of an HKS turbo kit made it too damn tempting to ignore, and it has led to one of the most unique rotary engine bays we have ever laid eyes on. The centrepiece is the radiator intercooler, which came about to avoid having big intercooler pipes sticking out the front. Fitting the intercooler vertically and converting to dual pass kept the pipework short and very compact. And, combined with the HKS T51RS turbo, it makes for a very responsive 328kW at the rear wheels. You’ll find nothing but blue Speedflow fittings from top to toe and a maze of immaculately polished hard lines. The extent of this work means that there is very little stainless braid and even less silicone to be found. In fact, there’s only a single piece of silicone in the entire engine bay — a small joiner connecting the electric water pump (EWP), which is hidden under the inner guard. Originally, the fittings were purchased in black, but, after installing them, it was decided blue would work better with the candy. Bevan then went a step further and sent a swag of other components to Speedflow in Australia to have them anodized, ensuring the blue would perfectly match the new fittings. And since he’d gone that far, there would be no way he’d bolt on something not detailed, even when it would be located underneath the car and probably never been seen. Flip the RX-2 on its roof, and you’ll see something more finely detailed than most of the engine bays this car shares a show hall with: a chromed steel bellhousing, candy driveshaft, detailed and candy-dipped Hilux diff, and chromed arms. It’s function with a ton of form hidden in plain sight.
But, from the outside, there is very little to suggest the level of modifications lurking under the skin. It’s all 1974 Mazda, with only a few minor refinements such as deleted locks. The other area that doesn’t stray too far from Mazda’s design is the interior. It’s all Mazda 1970s bloodstock, reupholstered in grey leather, and even the factory wheel is still present — this is respectful modification at its best. Mind you, hanging off the back of that big old wheel while wrestling all 328kW through those 215s would make for an exciting Sunday drive — but this is when you’ll be most likely to catch the RX-2 these days.
Four years on and two show seasons later — when the car won back-to-back RX Master at the nationals — Bevan has decided to let the show scene take a back seat to work on stonechipping that candy paint. However, opening the garage door does present him with a dilemma of presidential magnitude — just which car will he take for a drive? What a horrible predicament to be in.
Stopping power comes via Wilwood six-pot front and four-pot rear calipers, both on two-piece rotors with candy-coated hats
PERFORMANCE POWER: 328kW BOOST: 15psi FUEL: 98 octane TUNER: Dean at Rotormax
SHOES WHEELS: (F) 17x7-inch Simmons FR17, (R) 17x8-inch Simmons FR17 TYRES: (F) 195/35R17 Nankang AS-1, (R) 215/40R17 Goodyear Eagle F1
SUPPORT STRUTS: (F) Koni inserts, (R) QA1 adjustables BRAKES: (F) Wilwood six-pot calipers, two-piece rotors; (R) Wilwood four-pot calipers, two-piece rotors DRIVELINE GEARBOX: Toyota Supra W57, Green Brothers Racing steel bellhousing, detailed casing CLUTCH: Triple-plate FLYWHEEL: Custom DIFF: Hilux (5.3-ratio)
DRIVER PROFILE DRIVER/OWNER: Bevan Aymes LOCATION: Waikato OCCUPATION: Electrician BUILD TIME: Three years LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Five years
THANKS: Mikey Samuelsson, MKS Airbrushing; Leon Phillips for the fabrication; Dean for the tune
HEART ENGINE: PPRE-built FD RX-7 13B, 1300cc, twin-rotor BLOCK: Bridgeport plates, balanced rotating assembly, dowelled INTAKE: Factory intake, HKS elbow, HDi GT intercooler pipe clamps EXHAUST: Twin three-inch stainless, twin Adrenalin R resonators and rear muffler TURBO: HKS T51RS WASTEGATE: HKS 60mm BOV: Turbosmart 50mm FUEL: Twin Bosch 044 main pumps, 850cc primary and 1200cc secondary injectors, Green Brothers fuel-rail kit, Turbosmart fuel-pressure regulator IGNITION: IGA 1A coils, MSD leads, NGK plugs ECU: MicroTech LT10S COOLING: Custom intercooler, custom radiator, Davies Craig EWP, EXTRA: Custom breather tank