GONE OVERBOARD

RX-2 PER­FEC­TION FROM EV­ERY AN­GLE

NZ Performance Car - - Contents - MAR­CUS GIB­SON ADAM CROY

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

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