Now in its 17th year, the V 4&Rotary Nationals is that one show that anyone and everyone busts their knuckles and forgoes sleep to make. This year the hype beast was in full effect during the lead-up to the event, despite the lack of international hardware on display. But that didn't matter as the local boys had been busy. If I was forced to sum up the show in one sentence it would be that it was the year of front-end conversions. 

From the regular S-Chassis mash-ups to WRX-fronted S14s and V9 Hawk Eye WRX-fronted V6s; but the cream of the crop was Vick Bhatti's GT-R-fronted G35 coupe put together by the team at GT Refinishers. Running a set of custom Nessen Wheels that once adorned a certain drift RX-8, the custom kit featured little details that set it apart from the rest. If you look closely in this image you can see the detailed pattern work built into the clearcoat. 

Another project unveiled at the show that featured custom paint from GT Refinishers was Aaron Keach's Mazda RX-3. Many will remember Aaron's old wide-body FC RX-7 powered by a 20B. Well the body may have been on-sold, but the engine now lives in the RX-3. Engine wise, it runs a CBR-built 20B with Holset Pro55 turbo and Sinco manifolds, backed by a Tremec TKO600 dogbox and full Strange nine-inch rear end. With a healthy dose of E85 it is expected to make around 596kW (800hp) at the rear tyres. The car may look like a small-tyre drag machine, but Aaron does plan to have it street legal.  

If faux patina scared you off, then Tim Johnson's ridiculous RX-2 might be more to your taste. This is one of those cars that seemingly came out of nowhere and stole the show. The attention to detail, and the fit and finish of this car, was some of the best that I saw at the show, and it wasn't until Tim gave me a guided tour that I truly understood. Something the judging panel rewarded with a swag of awards; Best RX-2; Best Engine Bay; Best Under Carriage, Suspension, and Brakes; Best Displayed Vehicle; and the coveted RX Master award. 

But of course it wasn't just the rotaries stealing the engine-bay show. Adrian Lal's Evo 7 LETHL7 held it down for the four bangers with its new engine set-up built by BNR Engineering. The hand-fabricated masterpiece wasn't all show, with the head from an eight-second drag engine and a rather large Garrett GT series turbo, the run-in tune of 400kW was only the tip of the iceberg. Adrian is now going to put a few kms on it before some more boost and a driveline killing power figure is produced. He was happy to walk away with Best Mitsubishi and Best 2000+ overall. 

Another detail devil that had me on my knees peering underneath was Kerrin Brady's FD3S, that Chris mentioned in his post earlier this week. Kerrin has seemingly found a great mix between OEM concourse spec and hard-out race car and deservedly took out Best Late-Model RX.

Taking home Best Time Attack Style Car was Shaun Judd's SS200 FC RX-7, a shed-built masterpiece that put most of the ‘show cars’ to shame. Shaun had just spent the last year and a half rebuilding the entire car after a huge crash. What a way to come back from the dead. 

Best Drag-Style Vehicle went to Hayden Barnett's KFED EG Honda Civic, a car we featured in NZPC 207, although back then it was street car. The Garrett GT35/40-fed K20a, complete with in-cabin PWR barrel cooler, now sends all of its 310kW to a pair of Hoosier drag slicks mounted on Weld racing wheels. Sitting alongside Andrew Browning's ex Ronnie Lim-built Integra, could this mean we are about to see a FWD drag revival? 

One style that is making a serious comeback is full street / show builds, like Podge Reid's first generation RX-7. This long-term project took out Best RX-7 Series 1–5 thanks to the super smoothed and chromed engine bay, full-trimmed interior, and immaculate paintwork. Podge plans to cert and drive the car as you see it, and who could blame him for not wanting to hide that 13B away 

Proving that it still has it after all these years, Anthony Wong's BIGRED EK Civic sedan ex-cover car walked away with Best Honda, Best 1990–1999, and Best Extreme Paint. 

Other ghosts of NZPC past issues could be found on our stand including Mark Strawbridge's reworked 12PP Mazda Capella, now rocking a full race set-up including ’70s inspired graphics — it was a crowd favourite. 

Joining Mark's car was Graeme Smyth's C's Garage / SMS Fabrication S15, fresh from its first round of D1NZ Pro-Am. Thanks to all those who stopped by and said hello and gave us some feedback on the new-look magazine. 

For those who ventured beyond the main halls, it was a welcome return to the Air Ride and Lowrider Nationals, with most of the New Zealand-based clubs making an appearance. My pick of the bunch was Justin Ferris's beautifully painted Impala. I can only see this hall growing next year. 

We still have a few more posts to come over the following week in regards to the V 4&Rotary Nationals, but I will leave you with more of my favourite cars from the show:

Marcus Gibson

Marcus Gibson has spent his life getting a little grease under his fingernails growing up with a fascination for all things loud, fast, and low. Growing up during the boom of the import scene, the last ten years have seen him work for a few publications, as well as running his own website before taking up a role at NZ Performance Car in 2011. Marcus is as at home with a keyboard or camera in-hand as he is getting dirty in his workshop or at the track, championing that Kiwi DIY attitude.