NZ Performance Car - - Contents - WORDS: MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

The year was 2006, and Fe­bru­ary kicked off with the March edi­tion of NZ Per­for­mance Car, Is­sue No. 111 — con­fus­ing? Yes, we know — rolled out to ser­vos, su­per­mar­kets, book stores, and dairies all over this lit­tle strip of par­adise we call home. On the cover sat a camo-clad RX-7, which was mak­ing its de­but to the world. While most of us were busy heavy breath­ing and drool­ing over the 20B pe­riph­eral-port (PP) of ‘Mad Mike’ Whid­dett, that wasn’t the car that Carl Robert­son was heavy breath­ing and drool­ing over in that is­sue. The self­con­fessed TX3 nut­ter had landed on page 76, and the 4WD TX3 that Neil Mac­far­quhar had con­structed to tackle Targa. The wide­body TX3 was ev­ery­thing that a young teenage Carl couldn’t af­ford, from the lat­est MoTeC gear to the mod­i­fied World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC) Ford Es­cort wide­body and all the cus­tom car­bon pieces. But hey, a boy can dream, right?!

Fast for­ward a few years, and that car had seem­ingly van­ished off the face of the earth. Mean­while, Carl had been busy con­struct­ing his own TX3 of the FWD per­sua­sion, and nabbed him­self the cover of NZPC with his im­mac­u­lately con­structed ‘JRCOZY’. JR was an in­cred­i­ble build in its own right, and, over the next five years, it would win more than 30 tro­phies just in 4&Ro­tary events, take out the C2 drag class at the Na­tion­als two years run­ning, and claim the front-wheeldrive street-tyre record — a record it still holds with a 10.79 at 217kph.

JR clocked up 11,000km of mostly rac­ing miles, es­pe­cially once

Carl started mak­ing the move from drag to cir­cuit rac­ing. How­ever, this was when things started to get hairy. He re­calls, “When I did some Superlap stuff in 2015, it just never felt safe; it al­ways felt tail happy. I knew [that] it wasn’t right. Be­ing that high horse­power [380kW] and front wheel drive, I knew there would al­ways be that risk. Head­ing into turn one at Hamp­ton, it al­ways felt un­set­tled. Barry Manon’s Levin has huge amounts of aero on it, and it sits so much flat­ter through there than JR ever has. It was go­ing to wreck the look of the car to change ev­ery­thing to suit what I wanted to be do­ing next in my pro­gres­sion of my rac­ing.” Carl made the de­ci­sion that a new build — or, at least, a new ac­qui­si­tion — was needed. Be­ing the TX nerd that he is, the ob­vi­ous choice was a 4WD vari­ant, but, given the sta­tus of these high on the list of en­dan­gered iconic ’90s au­to­mo­biles, that was go­ing to be a tall or­der — or was it?

When JR was in the build, the idea of go­ing wide­body had led Carl to reach out to Neil in the hope of bor­row­ing the moulds of his cus­tom­ized WRC Es­cort wide­body. Although the build didn’t hap­pen at the time, the in­ten­tion never re­ally went away, which meant that the pair kept in con­tact over the years.

Neil’s car had been gath­er­ing dust in the shed, hav­ing not clocked up any kilo­me­tres since it was shot for NZPC all those years ago. It had suf­fered some en­gine is­sues on the dyno with over­heat­ing, which were never reme­died. Know­ing this, Carl be­gan work­ing at Neil, beg­ging him to let it go: “I kept hound­ing him; then, in 2016, when we were tak­ing on the Tuff Street cham­pi­onship and went to Ti­maru, I stopped in and saw

it, and the deal was made. Neil saw JR on the trailer, and I guess he fig­ured [that] I was the right per­son to put his car to use.”

Carl now had his dream duo of TX3s, but it wouldn’t be till his fears about stack­ing JR came true at Chrome in Au­gust 2017 that the re­build of ei­ther car would be­gin.

“The crash didn’t look too bad — it had pushed the rail over 20mm, but the way the gearbox con­ver­sion was done, with a re­ally strong roll-cage tube cross mem­ber and ra­di­a­tor sup­port, it had saved the pas­sen­ger side and kept it square, but the driver’s side just blew out and needed the rail pulled, the in­ner guard re­placed, the ra­di­a­tor sup­port, and all the ex­ter­nal pan­els. My painter, Kalib, who laid the orig­i­nal red on, came back on­board and I pur­chased a front cut,” ex­plains Carl.

The need for a new front end opened up the op­por­tu­nity for a new look to co­in­cide with the car’s semi-re­tire­ment from rac­ing. Af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, 2K white was cho­sen and laid on by Kalib, fol­lowed by lay­ers and lay­ers of clear. The car fi­nally got that wing Carl al­ways wanted, too, thanks to the mould that came with the 4WD car — although this one was short­ened to suit JR’s nar­rower body lines.

Me­chan­i­cally, JR re­mains much the same as al­ways, hav­ing been re­fined over the years of clock­ing those 11,000km. A new quad-throt­tle-body in­take and fuel sys­tem joined the new BorgWarner turbo, which re­placed the old Master Power, and a Varex muf­fler was also added for street du­ties.

“The 98 tune needs check­ing with the new turbo, but,

In prep for Lead­foot, a set of End­less pads was swapped into the AP Rac­ing four­pot calipers. The brake com­pound is de­signed to give clamp­ing force without the need to build up temp, an im­pos­si­ble task on a hill climb like lead­foot

once we get those bugs ironed out, I think we are just go­ing to en­joy it as a road car. Since we built it, most of kilo­me­tres have be­ing race ones, and we haven’t done much cruis­ing. Hope­fully, this year, when we go to Jambo, and maybe Ti­maru, we will just drive it the UMF fam­ily,” Carl says.

With JR away get­ting re­built, Carl found him­self with enough shed space to strip the race car and get on to re­fresh­ing ev­ery­thing. No dras­tic re­work was re­quired, as nearly ev­ery com­po­nent on the car was next to brand new, from the AP Rac­ing brakes to the ex­ter­nal-reser­voir Proflex shocks — it had just all been sit­ting dor­mant for a decade. Over the next six months, Carl poured some huge hours into re­build­ing ev­ery­thing and ad­dress­ing the over­heat­ing is­sue that had stopped the car be­ing used. This saw a bleed sys­tem with header tank and swirl pot added to the cool­ing sys­tem.

Due to the Toy­ota Levin gearbox con­ver­sion, the mo­tor in JR is leaned for­ward — per­fect for drag rac­ing, en­sur­ing as much weight as pos­si­ble is over those front wheels, but not ideal when you’re try­ing to cor­ner as fast as pos­si­ble

“It was a ner­vous time, putting it on the dyno at Jtune, as it was a bit of an un­known, but Jacky [Tse] did a great job and it worked per­fectly,” Carl re­calls.

The de-stroked (to suit Targa class rules) 1753cc BPT didn’t make the num­bers that JR’s 1800cc BPT is spit­ting out, but it’s some of the an­gri­est-sound­ing 179kW that you’ll ever hear. The turbo is a former Pos­sum Bourne VF22, while the in­jec­tors are RX-7 550cc. It’s proper old-school per­for­mance tech­niques us­ing the best of what was avail­able at the time.

The one thing that the car does share with its FWD brother — and one of the rea­sons Carl fell in love with it in the first place — is the so­lu­tion to the weak driv­e­lines that have led to these DOHC tur­bos join­ing that en­dan­gered list.

“It had the Evo gearbox con­ver­sion back in 2006, long be­fore Chris with [AL4SPN] had his, and be­fore I did mine. They did the con­ver­sion in a much smarter way than we did. Where we made the gearbox fit in the car, they took the com­plete front Evo VII sub­frame and fit­ted it into the Laser,” Carl ex­plains.

The same can be said for the rear diff, which is an Evo III item, although mounted to a cus­tom chro­moly sub­frame. The cen­tre diff — yeah that’s Evo, too — is con­trolled by a GEMS con­troller Credit re­ally needs to be given to Oc­tane Au­to­mo­tive and those who were re­spon­si­ble for the orig­i­nal build, as its aspect is as proper is ever, and it looks just like an early ’90s WRC car.

This is the kind of hard­ware that re­ally needs to be used, and, af­ter a decade of sit­ting dor­mant in a Pahiatua shed and rock­ing all-new liv­ery, the re­built TX was ready for its maiden com­pe­ti­tion on the su­per-tight con­fines of Rod and Shelly Millen’s Lead­foot drive­way.

Carl felt right at home push­ing the 4WD. “As soon as I got in that other car, I felt like I could push. It doesn’t have any­where near the power that JR has, but that doesn’t mat­ter. It’s light, and the steer­ing in­put is per­fect. It’s just an amaz­ing car to drive, and I can’t wait to see what we can do with it go­ing for­ward,” he de­clares.

First on that list will be bring­ing the elec­tron­ics pack­age into mod­ern times, re­plac­ing the ’90s MoTeC and ad­ding a power-dis­tri­bu­tion mod­ule (PDM). Hav­ing had a taste of Targa from the pas­sen­ger seat of his cousin’s Porsche, Carl is ea­ger to add to the two Targa stamps in the TX’s log­book — col­lected dur­ing the days when it had a Mazda driveline. Who knows? There may even be some more white-knuckle rides up Rod’s drive­way —“If he’ll have me,” Carl adds.

HEART EN­GINE: Ford BPT, 1800cc, four-cylin­der BLOCK: JE pis­tons, Belfab rods, ARP studs, ARP race bear­ings, Mazda GT-R crank, MX-5 Toda oil pump HEAD: 2005 Mazda MX-5 BPZ3 VVT head, Su­pertech valve springs, solid lifters IN­TAKE: Toy­ota 4A-GE black­top throt­tle bod­ies, T3 bil­let MX-5 throt­tle adap­tor, cus­tom Dan Slater in­take plenum with in­ter­nal bell mouths, 2.5-inch in­ter­cooler pip­ing, 600x300x80mm in­ter­cooler, four-inch in­take pipe, cold-air box EX­HAUST: Three-inch stain­less sys­tem by Dan Slater, Varex muf­fler or straight pipe TURBO: BorgWarner SXE 57mm, pol­ished stain­less steam-pipe man­i­fold WASTE­GATE: TiAL 38mm BOV: TiAL 50mm FUEL: AEM E85 lift pump, Af­ter­mar­ket In­dus­tries un­der­body surge tank, mod­i­fied fuel tank, Dual Bosch 044 pumps, Te­flon braided lines, Ra­dium MX-5 bil­let fuel rail, Aero­mo­tive fuel-pres­sure reg­u­la­tor (FPR), Sard 800cc in­jec­tors (98 oc­tane), Siemens 2433cc in­jec­tors (E85) IG­NI­TION: Honda K24 COP ECU: Autronic SM4 COOL­ING: A1 Ra­di­a­tors cus­tom ra­di­a­tor, al­loy swirl pot, dual elec­tric fans, NZKW oil cooler EX­TRA: Winged and baf­fled sump, cus­tom catch­cans with JNT lids

DRIVELINE GEARBOX: Toy­ota AE92 Levin GTZ, five-speed, cus­tom Manon Rac­ing Prod­ucts (MRP) ra­tios, TRD short-shift kit, Jeff Bruce adap­tor plate CLUTCH: MRP twin-plate FLYWHEEL: Cus­tom bil­let DIFF: 12-plate me­chan­i­cal limited-slip, bil­let drag axles SUP­PORT STRUTS: Mazda GTX BC Gold coilovers, var­i­ous spring ra­tios BRAKES: (F) 330mm MRP Nashin ro­tors, End­less ME22 pads; (R) Mazda Lan­tis ro­tors, Bendix pads EX­TRA: Ul­tra Rac­ing fender and un­der­body braces; White­line sway bars and strut braces; No­lathane bushes

SHOES WHEELS: (F) 17x8-inch BBS LM, re­versed cen­tres, pol­ished lips; (R) 17x9-inch BBS LM, re­versed cen­tres, pol­ished lips TYRES: 205/40R17 Neu­ton NT5000 / 26x10.5 M&H DOT Drag Street

DRIVELINE GEARBOX: #teamevo­driv­e­line Evo VI five-speed, Oc­tane Au­to­mo­tive adap­tor, Evo VII trans­fer case CLUTCH: Mit­subishi heavy-duty sin­gle-plate FLYWHEEL: Mit­subishi DIFF: (F) Evo VII trans­fer case with Ac­tive Cen­ter Dif­fer­en­tial (ACD), Mo­dena front limited-slip; (R) Evo III case / Mo­dena limited-slip EX­TRA: Mit­subishi axles and CVs, Mit­subishi drive­shaft (with speed sen­sor) SUP­PORT STRUTS: Proflex Evo II Tar­mac Rally coilovers (re­built by Ral­liart) BRAKES: (F) AP Rac­ing four-pot calipers, End­less race pads; (R) Wil­wood calipers, End­less race pads EX­TRA: Eight-point roll cage, cus­tom sub­frames, M-Spec Fab­ri­ca­tion blade front sway bar, Evo rear sway bar

SHOES WHEELS: 17x8-inch Enkei Tar­mac TYRES: 235/45R17 Yoko­hama ADO8R

IN­TE­RIOR SEATS: Bride Zeta 3, Mazda GTX rails STEER­ING WHEEL: OEM TX3 Momo INSTRUMENTATION: Au­tome­ter wa­ter-temp, oil-temp, oil-pres­sure, and boost gauges EX­TRA: Six-point roll cage, flocked dash and cen­tre con­sole, car­bon-fi­bre door trims and rear quar­ter pan­els

EX­TE­RIOR PAINT: 2K white with clear coat by Kaleb Kolevski EN­HANCE­MENTS: Cus­tom car­bon bon­net by JMRFi­bre­glass (3kg), Mazda GT-R front bumper, JDM TX3 side skirts and clear in­di­ca­tors, cus­tom Cos­worth WRC rear wing, satin black off­sets

PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: 179kW BOOST: 20psi FUEL: 98 oc­tane TUNER: Jacky at Jtune PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: 315kW(98), 380kW (E85) BOOST: 29psi FUEL: 98 or E85 TUNER: Jacky at Jtune ET: 10.79s at 217kph (cur­rent DOT tyre street-tyred FWD record) CIR­CUIT TIMES: Hamp­ton — 1min 18s

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