PIC UP ASTIST

A LIFE­TIME LOVE AF­FAIR WITH UTES HAS LED TO THE BUILD OF THE CLEAN­EST B2000 YOU’LL EVER LAY YOUR EYES ON

NZ Performance Car - - Clique -

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Flaw­less paint, mil­lime­tre-per­fect door gaps, and a tray so clean that you’d likely be shot point blank if owner Wiremu Burkhardt ever caught you throw­ing any­thing in there: these are not the kinds of at­tributes you’d nor­mally as­so­ciate with the hum­ble and of­ten-abused util­ity, but the B2000 be­fore you is much more than a sim­ple work hack; it’s a trib­ute to a part of our cul­ture cen­tral to what it is to be Kiwi.

You see, Wiremu, like many Ki­wis, grew up in the tray of a ute. It served as more than just a work ve­hi­cle; it was the fam­ily car, the week­end toy, and the work­horse all rolled into one. And he’s not alone in this obsession. All you need to do is look at the top-sell­ing ve­hi­cles in New Zealand to un­der­stand that we are a na­tion of ute own­ers. With three gen­er­a­tions of B2000, a B1600, and a Surf for dune-bash­ing du­ties, it’s fair to say that Wiremu’s obsession goes deep, and the ’84 B2000 is the crown jewel of the fleet. Wiremu’s 10-year project has wres­tled some­thing that was never in­tended to be per­fect into ex­actly that.

Hav­ing owned a long list of B2000s, when this little gem showed up in a mate’s pos­ses­sion, Wiremu wasted no time procur­ing it. He re­calls: “It had been owned by an old fulla in Whangarei its en­tire life, and then it went to a car yard in Kaitaia, where a mate was groom­ing. He got it and gave me a call. By the time I got up there, he had heated the springs up to slam it out. As soon as I saw it, [I knew] it was im­mac­u­late, and I wanted it, so I swapped him the ZR4 [that] I had at the time.”

Start­ing with such a good base saved the has­sles of­ten as­so­ci­ated with old tin; it also meant that go­ing balls deep with a grinder would be dis­re­spect­ful to the sur­vivor. The orig­i­nal plan to body-drop it was soon ditched, as Mat from The Drop Shop just couldn’t bring him­self to do it. In­stead, they opted for a C-notch in the rear with a cus­tom three-link, and the front mod­i­fied to al­low the all-im­por­tant frame-lay­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics once the airbag switches are hit. Un­der the tray lies ev­ery­thing care­fully pack­aged to fit within the tight con­fines of the chas­sis rails to not in­trude into the tray bed.

There would be a year in the chas­sis work alone, but that didn’t bother Wiremu, as that al­lowed time to fo­cus on sort­ing the driveline. The de­ci­sion to go 13B stems from his days rac­ing at Mere­mere in his 12-sec­ond RS Legacy, where the only cars giv­ing him trou­ble were of the Wankel-pow­ered va­ri­ety. One such in­ci­dent is for­ever etched into his me­mory: “I was rac­ing a sil­ver RX-3. I blitzed it off the line as I had four-wheel drive, then, three­quar­ters of the way down the track, out of nowhere, it just blasted past me. The next thing I see is its tail lights di­rectly in front of me as it crossed the cen­tre line. I swerved and we missed each other. Af­ter that, I was sold on how in­sane ro­taries are.”

Team­ing up with Brent from Cur­ran Broth­ers Rac­ing (CBR), a crazy plan was hatched to build a quad in­di­vid­ual throt­tle body (ITB) set-up; some­thing nei­ther had ex­pe­ri­ence in, but, if you know Brent Cur­ran, you’ll know that he never shies away from do­ing

things out of the box. Dual 50mm EFI Hard­ware throt­tle bod­ies now sit on a cus­tom man­i­fold. It’s got that old-school vibe that Wiremu was shoot­ing for but with­out the has­sle that he deals with reg­u­larly at work: hav­ing to tune carbs.

The block it­self has all-new Mazda S6 RX-6 com­po­nents, with high-comp ro­tors. This is fol­low­ing the first so-called re­built en­gine he’d al­ready pur­chased that turned out to be noth­ing more than an as­sem­bled bunch of pa­per weights. The sec­ond trick up the high-com­pres­sion bridge­port’s sleeve is a 200hp shot of ni­trous, as Wiremu puts it, “mak­ing up for the lack of a snail hang­ing off the side”. This feeds into the man­i­fold as a fog­ger sys­tem; when the bot­tle is even­tu­ally used, the light­weight ute will be­come a real hand­ful, we sus­pect. This is some­thing that Wiremu plans to make full use of at race tracks all over the North Is­land as he has been all sum­mer long.

But this is no track hack, de­spite mak­ing well over four times its orig­i­nal power. The real charm lies in the de­tails, half of which you’d need to roll it on its roof to ad­mire. With the most de­tail of all be­ing the cus­tom tray — a saga that would stretch out to in­volve four work­shops, two years, and plenty of re­work­ing, as the first two shops just could not pull it off to the stan­dard that Wiremu was shoot­ing for. Even­tu­ally, it landed at Car Restora­tions in Mata­mata, which was able to turn the dream of a com­pletely seam­less in­ner tray with a pair of big round tubs into re­al­ity. The cus­tom work on the tray didn’t stop there; the tail lights are now mounted via a sin­gle bolt, and the fuel filler and rear tail­gate are all but dis­tant me­mories. Once the metal work was com­plete, it then had an ex­tended 12-month stay at Pu­taruru Panel­beat­ers, where Damien was re­spon­si­ble for whip­ping it into shape and re­spray­ing the fac­tory cream that it’s worn since the day it left the Mazda fac­tory. To fur­ther pay homage to its ori­gins, the fac­tory stripes were re­laid, giv­ing it that quin­tes­sen­tial ’80s vibe.

Trib­ute is also paid to its roots on the in­side, with a re­trim of fac­tory pieces, en­sur­ing that it’s kept time­less. Al­though, Wiremu ad­mits to fall­ing vic­tim in those early years to a few past trends; “I’ve made some mis­takes over the years,” he says. “I was in love with WRX bucket seats, so I fit­ted some and threw the im­mac­u­late bench seat in the bin, which you can’t get these days.” Thank­fully, those buck­ies are long gone and in their place is a B1600 benchy that mas­ter trim­mer Scotty, aka ‘WARVAN’, has poured 18 hours into, hand stitch­ing two hides of Bent­ley Blue Nappa to­gether, with new foams and a pow­der-coated frame. That Nappa also ex­tends to the door cards, and they’re only just get­ting started. As Wiremu sees it, this, cou­pled with the car­bon-fi­bre moulded kick pan­els and sub en­clo­sure be­hind the seat, is only the be­gin­ning for the in­te­rior, which will con­tinue to un­dergo trans­for­ma­tions for years to come — and he won’t stop till it’s per­fect.

“I could never bring my­self to sell it; it will be on­go­ing for­ever, re­ally,” says Wiremu, who plans to con­tinue tweak­ing, clean­ing things up, and pushing it to the next level for the fore­see­able. What we are look­ing at here is only stage one; we even hear that the body will soon by lifted off again to re­work the wiring and plumb­ing. But, in the mean­time, there are some track events com­ing up, and Wiremu’s right foot is itch­ing to be buried. His burnout B2000 we show­cased in NZPC 255 still has to be com­pleted, or maybe he’ll con­tinue the restora­tion on his ear­lier model B1600; both of these are sto­ries for an­other day, but it’s safe to say that Wiremu’s love af­fair with the ute is far from burn­ing out. He’s a lifer, folks.

HEART DRIVELINEEN­GINE: Mazda 13B, 1300cc, two-ro­tor BLOCK: Light­ened high­com­pres­sion ro­tors, bridge­ported s5 plates, s5 hous­ings, bal­anced ro­tat­ing assem­bly IN­TAKE: Dual EFI Hard­ware 50mm throt­tle bod­ies, cus­tom bell­mouths, Cer­makrome-coated cus­tom in­take, 200hp ni­trous kit EX­HAUST: Cer­makrome-coated 2.5-inch man­drel-bent head­ers, ce­ramic-coated three-inch sin­gle ex­haust, stain­less muf­fler, lob­ster­backed stain­less tip FUEL: Four 1000cc Bosch in­jec­tors, Bosch 044 fuel pump, cus­tom surge tank, Aeroflow fit­tings, teflon line, Go Fast Bits (GFB) fuel reg­u­la­tor IG­NI­TION: Mi­crotech ig­n­i­tors, four Bosch coils, cus­tom Moroso HT leads, NGK race plugs ECU: Mi­croTech LT-10c COOLING: PWR ra­di­a­tor, PWR oil cooler EX­TRA: MSD high-out­put al­ter­na­tor STRUTS: Slam Spe­cial­ties airbags, shocks BRAKES: Fac­tory EX­TRA: Cus­tom C-notch, ad­justable three-link, al­loy air tank, two Vi­air com­pres­sors GEAR­BOX: Se­ries 5 RX-7 five-speed CLUTCH: Cus­tom three-puck FLYWHEEL: Chro­moly DIFF: Lim­ited-slip

PER­FOR­MANCE POWER: 200kW FUEL: E85 TUNER: Dynopower

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