DOING IT FOR THE BRO
A ROLLING TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN BROTHER
Carrying on the legacy of friends that have left us too early can take many forms — inked skin, firstborn namesakes, and yearly pilgrimages are all time-honoured ways of keeping memories of the dearly departed alive. When Samuel Harrison tragically and prematurely passed away on May 7 2010, long-time friend Dave Matehaere could think of no better way to pay tribute to his rota-head mate than to go hell for leather to complete Sam’s unfinished FC RX-7 in time for Sam’s brother Jake to drive it to the headstone reveal. What Dave didn’t expect, however, was to become custodian of the car. “I had stored the car for Rosana Harrison, Sam’s mother, and managed to get it running so that his brother Jake could drive it to the unveiling of his headstone. Not long after, with the promise that I would build Sam’s dream, I was gifted the car.”
The honour of that was not lost on Dave, who set out to build the FC in the way that he believed Sam would have, given a decent budget to see the project through. Over the next few years, the shell sat dormant as parts were collected and a plan was formed. We’re sure that many of you will attest to how self-imposed deadlines can often provide the motivation needed to see a project through, and Dave was about to set himself the second significant deadline in the car’s history: “I had always intended on driving the car to my wedding, but, when my soon-to-be-wife Hayley gently reminded me that our wedding was well under five months away, I then realized it was time to pull finger and get shit done.”
By his own admission, for the next few months, Dave became a ghost, cramming hundreds of hours of build time into any spare moment that he wasn’t at work. The FC had been somewhat thrown together to make it driveable for Jake, and needed to be stripped right back and built properly if it was going to meet Dave’s high standards. If you don’t know Dave, you will almost certainly at least be familiar with some of his handy panel-andpaint work: Bruce Tannock’s S13, Ian McKay’s ‘DSORDA’ Familia, the ‘SHADY3’ RX-3, and the ‘ST8FRD’ Ford Escort, to name a few. These are all immaculate, award-winning cars and a testament to Dave’s skill behind the panel hammer and spray gun.
To achieve a similar finish, the FC was taken right back to a paint-less, naked shell, before a BN Blister kit was sourced from a local supplier. While it wasn’t a particually bad fitting kit we’re told, the hours that Dave and friend Jayden Grainger have poured into correcting any flaws is a little mind blowing. The pair led down a rabbit hole of spritzing, bog, priming, and then sanding; a process that was stuck on repeat like a scratched CD. And only after a good 300 hours did the PPG Toyota Liquid Metal finally touch the panels.
Thankfully, not all aspects of the build were this painstaking. In fact, when it came to the running gear, it was the complete opposite. Notice anything familiar in Dave’s engine bay? Cycle your mind back to Issue No. 179 and Matt ‘Chuckie’ Jackson’s FC RX-7 with its bridgeported 13B turbo. When Chuckie hung up his D1 driver’s hat and looked to part out the FC, it just so happened that Dave had a 180SX in a colour scheme that matched the FC. “I was going to sell that to start the engine build for the FC, but I saw Chuckie post up his motor, and, within three or four days, the deal was done. He took away my 180, and I had a motor package that would have cost me double what the 180SX was worth to throw together.”
Apart from a new colour scheme, the package remains mostly the same as it was when it ran in Matt’s FC. The Holdsworth Automotive–built 13B barely had a 1000km on it when it bay-hopped along with the FD manifold, the Master Power GT35, full exhaust, and the V-mount intercooler. Even the tune on the Link G4 RX remains. To further sweeten the deal, everything bolted into the factory bolt holes as if it had been fabricated for Dave’s car. This is surprising when you consider that Matt’s FC featured a tube-frame front-end.
Pumping out 326kW at 15psi to the rears, it’s more than enough to keep Dave happy. He even got to spin the 19-inch rear tyres moments after saying “I do”, as the car was completed without a day to spare — the first drive was to the wedding itself.
While Dave himself is inclined to pick apart his own work, the awards have not stopped piling up since the car’s completion, including Best FC RX-7 at the Nationals two years running, for the first of which Sam’s mum Rosana was in attendance. There are also plans to get her in the passenger seat for a strop around the track in the very near future. And while track work was not Dave’s focus with the build, expect to see the FC swapping lock-to-lock sometime in the future. Although he can’t quite bring himself to bruise the panels just yet: “I used to drift my cars, but I need to damage it first, then I will probably get back into it. I had full intentions of drifting it when I was building it, but, as soon as it was
While not much remains from the original build, Dave made sure to keep something built by Sam: the gearbox cross member, which was adapted to take the FD fivespeed. He also keeps a photo of Sam in the glovebox a staggered 18-/19-inch Work Meister combo fills the big arches with ease, although the cost of 19-inch semis sees Dave backing off earlier than usual when the clutch is popped