We don't only feature fully modified vehicles in NZ Performance Car magazine — the mildly modified get a look in too! It doesn't matter what it is, if you're passionate about it, modify it, and drive it to work every day, we'll showcase it.

  • Name: Thomas Gordon
  • Location: Christchurch
  • Occupation: Landscaper
  • Make/model: 1989 Toyota GX81 Mark II 
  • Engine: Factory 1G-FE, nine-pipe Takeyari exhaust, rev-control stick 
  • Drivetrain: Factory auto
  • Interior: Stripped rear, fake half-cage, purple velvet trim
  • Exterior: Custom long-nose front end, custom front splitter, custom boot spoiler, flat rear with Nissan Figaro tail lights, custom metal vented guards, single side-vented rear quarters, California mirrors, modified Workshop X A31 sideskirts, custom Tamiya/Falken/Toyota livery
  • Suspension: N/A (literally) 
  • Wheels/tyres: (F) 14x9-inch (+17) and (R) 14x10.5-inch (+2) widened steelies with beauty rings (F) 165/65R14s (R) 185/60R14s

NZ Performance Car: Hey Thomas, that’s one rad Toyota you’ve built. Where did the idea come about to build such a unique creation?

Thomas Gordon: Hey guys, cheers. I’ve always enjoyed the artistic side of this wild style, and when I saw an Instagram post of the Buttugiri GX81 in its early stages, I knew I had to make one. 

Where did you pick up the Toyota from, and for how much?

Well, it’s a bit of a funny story. I picked it up off a mate as a parts car for my daily GX81. All he wanted was a box of beer, a Broadway mirror and a drawing, as he needed it out of his old man’s driveway at the time. 

How did the build begin? Did you have a set plan, or did it all just fall into place?

I guess it all began with cardboard templates and mock-ups of what I was after. From there on, it just took over, I was working on it nearly every day for six months. I think I did around 70 hours’ work on it in the first week. 

What was the hardest part about building it?

The hardest part of the build was definitely the boot-spoiler ends — it took hours cutting card templates. Also welding it, as I haven’t really done anything like that before. 

What would you do differently if you built another one, knowing what you know now?

In our country, I don’t think I could build another car that can’t really be used for anything other than looking ridiculous. However, we’ll see where this one ends up. Maybe it’ll be a convertible soon! 

Finally, what’s your favourite part of the car?

Uh, my favourite part would probably just be the left-hand side of the car. The guards with 1mm clearance and the rear vents with the livery passing through them. It’s just generally the better side!

Thanks for chatting to us, Thomas. Good on you for building something unique! 

Photos: Matt Speedy

This article was originally published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 225. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below:

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.