For a long time, the des­o­late red dust plains of the Aus­tralian out­back served as the land of milk and honey for young Ki­wis look­ing to make some se­ri­ous coin if they could hack the sear­ing sun and the iso­la­tion from all that we love. For many, it’s not the kind of place they plan to stay for­ever, and a re­turn to the mother­land is al­ways in the back of their minds. For An­drew Drem­ler, in set­ting his re­turn date a few years in ad­vance, he wanted to make sure he damn well had some­thing worth re­turn­ing for. No, we’re not talk­ing about the love of a good woman; we’re talk­ing about his dream ma­chine: an RX-3 sedan.

De­spite hav­ing owned a long list of mod­i­fied ve­hi­cles, an RX-3 still eluded him. Al­though he was still a few years away from his re­turn

to Ki­wi­land, a trawl on good ol’ Trade Me one day at work put that plan into hy­per­drive, af­ter spot­ting his dream sedan for sale in In­ver­cargill.

“It was only on there for two hours be­fore I had booked my flights home and talked the owner into re­mov­ing it from Trade Me,” he re­calls. The only prob­lem was that it’d take five flights to get from the min­ing camp in the red dirt of Western Aus­tralia to In­ver­cargill to check it over be­fore hand­ing over plenty of ‘lob­sters’ and ‘pineap­ples’.

Hav­ing been in the own­er­ship of In­ver­cargill paint shop owner Brendan Frost for well over a decade, aes­thet­i­cally, the sedan was ev­ery­thing that An­drew had dreamed of, right down to the Al­tezza blue hue, which was in great con­di­tion con­sid­er­ing it’d been sprayed some 16 years ago. The long-term project had sim­ply been gather­ing dust and was only just fin­ished when Brendan put it up for sale.

As soon as An­drew’s plane landed in In­vers, he wasted no time in seal­ing the deal. “It was a real gem,” An­drew re­mem­bers. He quickly loaded the car on the trans­porter and flew back to the Bay of Plenty, where the car would be shelved till he re­turned from the dust.

A cou­ple of years passed, and it was time for An­drew to move home and crack into the sedan. To start with, he dropped the RX-3 into Dynopower for a tune. But smooth sail­ing it was not, with the 13B pe­riph­eral-port (PP) hav­ing other ideas and drop­ping a seal not long af­ter, caus­ing all man­ner of dam­age in­ter­nally.

Dynopower got to work re­build­ing the RX-4-based block. A new RX-8 ec­cen­tric shaft and high-com­pres­sion 10.1:1 RX-8 ro­tors found their way in­side, while the Xtreme Ro­taries 48mm CNC ports were re­shaped. The ta­pered cast man­i­fold and bil­let 60mm throt­tles were re­tained, along with 550cc in­jec­tors and ITG fil­ter. While the en­gine was out, an RX-8 five-speed was con­verted to bolt-up, and the old ECU and loom ditched in favour of a Link G4 Mon­soon. Back on the dyno, the new con­fig­u­ra­tion pro­duced 235kW at the rears.

The short­ened Hilux diff hous­ing re­ceived a new lim­ited-slip diff (LSD) with 5.1 ra­tio and an extra leaf to stiffen things up to help put the power down, but there re­ally wasn’t a lot else that An­drew deemed nec­es­sary to make the sedan into his dream ma­chine. Brendan had spent a lot of time on the panel work, and the en­gine bay is one of the best ex­am­ples we have seen in re­cent years. An­other area that An­drew didn’t need to touch was the in­te­rior, which had re­ceived a full re­trim be­fore the sale. It’s funny that An­drew was seek­ing gold over there in the dust lands but found a piece right here at home.

With a hand­ful of awards, some track thrash­ing, and plenty of road kilo­me­tres later, this past sum­mer has fi­nally seen An­drew able to en­joy the sedan and prove that it’s ev­ery­thing that he dreamed of.

Well … that was un­til he spied a Green Brothers Rac­ing 20B pack­age with TKO 600 for sale, mov­ing those flex­i­ble dream-car goal posts. That 20B is cur­rently sit­ting on An­drew’s garage floor

The in­te­rior re­ceived a full re­trim that in­cluded work­ing the au­dio into the rear par­cel tray, but that’s about as far from fac­tory as the work strayed. Its 1970s vibe is as good to­day as the day it left Mazda’s fac­tory

Bil­let Spe­cial­ties are not a com­mon choice for Maz­das in New Zealand, but it’s hard to ar­gue that they don’t look killer, es­pe­cially with a lit­tle bit of dish such as in An­drew’s ex­am­ples

Smoothed, filled, shaved, de­loomed, and pol­ished. Does it get any bet­ter than this?

des­tined for the sedan. “I was ac­tu­ally quite happy with the last re­build, but now it’s go­ing to be­come my ul­ti­mate dream ma­chine,” he says.

By the time you read this, the sedan will be back at Dynopower with the grinder sunk deep into the en­gine bay al­low­ing room for the 20B and 70mm BorgWarner turbo. The idea, says An­drew, is to build a 600-plus-horse­power (447kW) street-le­gal ma­chine that can “do a lit­tle track work, and give the boys a go at the strip. I’d be happy to run a nine and be able to drive it home.”

To do so, a half cage will be in­stalled, along with race seats, new rear sus­pen­sion, and a few other tricks. Ob­vi­ously, this will be quite an ex­ten­sive project, so it won’t hap­pen overnight, but hope­fully next time we lay eyes on the sedan, it will be a 600-plus-horse­power an­i­mal with all the trimmings. And, just like An­drew, we can’t wait!

DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: An­drew Dem­ler AGE: 33 LO­CA­TION: Whakatane OC­CU­PA­TION: Chem­i­cal process oper­a­tor BUILD TIME: Three years LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Three years THANKS: Brent, Jase, and Ryan at Dynopower Tau­ranga

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