13B PP MAZDA RX-3
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