I know saying things like this will make me sound like an old man, and maybe I am, but what the hell happened to 2014? It seems like only a few months ago I was chatting to people on our stand at the V 4&Rotary Nationals and suddenly I’m looking up onto the wall of magazine covers in the office with 12 up there from 2014. With this year drawing to a close, I wanted to look back over those 12 issues and showcase my favourite cars of the bunch. Sure, me being editor of the magazine means that I have some level of love for each car we feature, but over the year there have been a few standouts for me. If anything, it should give you an insight into my personal taste in cars. PS, I could have happily had 40 cars on this list, but I decided to keep it tight and make it have only eight.
Andy Duffin’s circuit-spec FD3S
Andy Duffin’s GT2 FD RX-7 is an all-out giant killer. I’ve loved this car since we first featured it back when Andy had just won the SS200 championship with the 12A PP, thanks to the hours I spent watching in-car footage on YouTube. So when the car re-emerged with a 485hp 20BPP backed by the Elite Transmission six-speed sequential I stood up and took notice. The reason I call it a giant killer is the fact that it runs against some serious machinery and yet with its somewhat basic sum of parts still comes away with podium placements; but I suspect Andy’s driving may play a pivotal role in that process. Another notable point of this car is the noise that it produces: the kind that sends shivers up your spine when it flies past.
Toque Aristo (213)
Shot by Peter Kelly during his time living in Japan, the Toyota Aristo is through-and-through an illegal street drifter. It’s not shiny, high tech, or groundbreaking; it’s simply used and abused but with a certain level of style that makes the car for me. Picked up for the measly sum of a NZ$1000, owner Kai Hamada added the right amount of carbon, the perfect ride height, and just enough power (303kW), to be able to slay the touge on those late-night runs.
Police RX-2 (209)
OK, so I’m a little biased on this one as I have had a hand in building it, but that aside it’s the originality that stokes me out the most. Not only with the police theme from early in the year, but more so the 70s Japanese racer theme debuted later on. A designer, Mark was able to put the look together himself, and then we cut out and applied the vinyl each time. Talk about balling on a budget. All that money that was saved on the paint job was poured into the race-prepped 12A PP and running gear. Next time you see this car, get down on your knees and look underneath to see where we spent thousands of hours engineering it to run as low as it does without sacrificing handling (too much) …
NZ Bippu (208)
There are cars that never really get the notoriety that I feel they deserve; one such vehicle was the Lexus LS400 of Vick Bhatti. The Bippu-style build for the 2014 V 4&Rotary Nationals was one of the wildest creations to come out of his stables in years, with 19x11- / 19x13-inch Work Eurolines, beautifully handcrafted widebody guards, and wild amounts of camber that only a Bippu build could pull off. Why is it that the best things in life are illegal.
Scott Porter's G35 (207)
Sadly, here in New Zealand we miss out on the elite level of import drag racing that flourishes across the ditch. The only time we really get a taste is at the V 4&Rotary Nationals, where earlier this year we saw the first-ever side-by-side six-second pass by imports. One of those cars was Australian Scott Porter's Factory Extreme Nissan 350Z. The engineering on this car was amazing (but that's to be expected), however what really excited me was the fact that the team have done things with the VQ35 engine that no one else in the world had previously done. It’s not like building a 2JZ drag car and following the recipe of success to get you started; this thing has been pure trial and error as Scott explained: “I was buying $500 engines from the wreckers, three at a time.” It is for that reason alone that I commend the team's efforts.
Hamish McDonald (212)
It’s not every day that a Nissan Cefiro makes it onto the cover of NZPC. Mainly because it’s a rare sight to see the traditional drift taxi built to as higher level as Hamish MacDonald’s is, from the chrome Work VSes to the straight gloss-black paint and kit. Why do I like this car so much? Because it’s 2JZ powered and a super-clean streeter, not a drift car masquerading as a streeter, not a show car masquerading as a drift car, but a pure street machine capable of all three of the above. This is one of those cars that the longer you look at it the more fine details you notice.
Mikey McLellan (216)
I don’t know about you guys, but I reckon there is nothing better than being able to jump into your pride and joy and drive it every goddam day and not wait for the weekend or those four events a year. This is why, yo me, Mikey McLellan’s 240Z is so damn cool; it’s the body, look, and feel of vintage 240Z; but the driveline is the reliable workhorse VQ35DE taken straight from the Z’s grandchild, the 350Z. That means no triple carbs to worry about falling out of tune, no sitting in the driveway waiting for it to warm up and not stall, and gas mileage to rival a Prius — all in a 1350kg shell. This is as reliable as any modern machine and built for less than the price, and ten times cooler. Why more people don’t build daily drivers like this is beyond me.
Pikes Peak FC Grant Munro (211)
OK, so this one is technically not even a feature car; it was a special feature build, but I don’t care as the FC RX-7 of Grant Munro is arguably one of the most significant machines to be built or rebuilt in New Zealand in a very long time. The 4WD FC was built for Pikes Peak and run by the great Rod Millen during the late ’80s / early ’90s; first with a 13B turbo, and then later with a 20B. After ’91 it was on-sold to RE Amemiya where it featured at one Autosalon before being pushed to the corner and forgotten. It was in a hell of a state when it arrived in New Zealand in 2005, purchased by Grant’s late father, Glenn, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that Grant finally decided to restore the car to its former glory. Thankfully that process is now nearly finished, so expect this car to make my 2015 list next December.