Imagine how insane your first modified car would be if you had kept it, and continued to evolve it throughout your life, never afraid to rip out perfectly good bits and start again from scratch. For Taumarunui local Ian McKay this is the reality for his Mazda Familia GTX. It’ s been a project that has stood the test of time, outgrown many trends, and ended up as one of the country’s most powerful true street cars.
The story began 15 years ago with a 100-per-cent bone-stock GTX picked up from a dealership. But like all other GTX owners, Ian soon found out these gearboxes were extremely fragile. That’s a deal-breaker for most modifiers, who soon move on to new platforms. But Ian clearly is not a quitter, and instead of taking the easy route, he decided to to make things right, as he explains. “I went through three GTX boxes and mates had gone through triple that, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I didn’t want to go the route of the Celica GT4 box, I thought the Evo box would be the better of the two if you were to compare them side by side, because of the aftermarket backing for Evo stuff.” Once he decided on the gearbox, the same theory lead to the decision to bring with it the rest of the driveline and engine.
Ian continues, “We came to the conclusion that I might as well just do the engine conversion. No one did bolt-on Mazda parts at all, but for the Evo I had plenty of choice, HKS, JUN, you name it, and this is back 10 years ago.” With the help of a few mates, and some Auckland-based workshops, the complete driveline from a wrecked Evo V Ian had sourced was soon in its new home. With a stock block, and maxed-out TD05 turbo and injectors, the Autronic ECU was tuned to 253kW.
As with most show/cover cars of the time, Ian had gone for a full custom interior with lashings of white and a full ICE install. Combined with the Foxton bodykit and custom blue paint, it was New Zealand’s wildest GTX, and it was in this guise that the car made its first NZPC cover, on Issue No. 125.
With the project seemingly completed, it’s usually at this point that a car is shelved, raced to its death or on-sold to make way for a new focus. But things were about to get a whole lot wilder than anyone would ever imagine. Ian was, as he puts it, “Already all in at this point,” and he had unfinished business with the hatch, and dreams of building a high-power motor for it.
Soon after the photo shoot Ian began the next phase, which saw the custom interior ripped out and binned. He continues, “I got sick of always having a full carload of people, and I always wanted a really tidy street-legal race car. I wanted to go circuit racing and to go sub 10 seconds, so I knew I would eventually have to cage it.”
But Ian never wanted to lose the versatility of having a WOF on the window, even with a caged car, and power figures that were about to triple with the build of the ‘big motor’. Making huge power is never easy, and it would take a few different combinations over the next few years to strike perfection. The first combo included a 2.3 stroker block, a T70 turbo and bigger injectors. On the dyno it made 430kW on race fuel, maxing out the T70.
Sadly that engine met its demise on the dyno thanks to a failed fuel pump. Dick at Hytech Engines was tasked with screwing together the new 2.3-litre, using JE asymmetrical pistons, Oliver I-beam rods, a 100mm-stroke 4G69 crank, ACL bearings and ARP main studs. The head received equal attention with the full Kelford Cams treatment, including a set of custom-ground 288/290 cams, a port and polish and oversized 1mm valves, Kelford valve springs and titanium retainers.
While it was off the road the opportunity was taken to upgrade the turbo. “I got onto Borg Warner, I was talking to Geoff from Full Race in the States, we got talking and he said this turbo [large-frame S400SX] would suit the stroker combo down to a tee.” The GTX was dropped to Sinco Customs, which built a stainless manifold, a brace for the 20kg monster and a stainless downpipe and four-inch aluminum straight pipe. The alloy was a bit of a experiment, no one was really sure if it would last or just melt off, but Ian had seen a few cars running them in the States and was keen to give it a go, as he hoped it would give the four-cylinder a deeper note than it would have with stainless.
Back on the dyno at Dobson Dyno Tune and with a Ricardo dog box complete with Ikeya Formula sequential shifter, the new combination put out 606kW on Klotz 118-octane race fuel and 37psi of boost. Ian had now entered the big league! “Ross said it’s a conservative tune, the fuel system is built to take ethanol, we did the race tune on that Klotz 118-octane race fuel as I have used it in the past and it’s nice and stable. The injectors are only at 60 per cent duty, I had thought about getting an E85 tune just for circuit stuff, but after going to Chrome on the 385kW pump gas tune it is more than enough on these tyres.”
One of the driving forces behind the mega power increase has been Ian’s regular attendance at the drag strip, where he’s slowly chipped away at his PB. From a mid 11 back when the car ran a stock block, he got it into the low 10s, with a current PB of 10.37 at 229kph. The goal is to run into the nines, though that figure has proved elusive despite everything looking promising on paper.
At the Nationals Ian completed his licensing passes, and it looked as if he was heading in the right direction to finally get that monkey off his back, with 1.5-second 60 foots and 145mph (233kph) trap speeds. But it wasn’t to be. A torn driveshaft damaged plenty of the undercarriage components on its way out, including the exhaust and fuel tank. The time slip for that pass showed he would have made his target had the driveshaft not thrown a tanty, but breakages are just part of racing, and a single-digit time slip had to wait for another day.
Off the track things have been running a bit more smoothly, after the introduction of 4&Rotary’s Tough Street show category. A replacement for the show car class, it was a perfect fit for Ian’s 600kW street car, which collected 10 awards during the season despite missing round one. They included best paint, and that was 10 years after Dave Matehaere, a friend of Ian’s, had laid the custom metallic mica blue with jade green pearl, which is a testament to his workmanship and not a bad effort for a car that sees regular roadwork.
It would seem that after 15 years of development, the project is actually nearing completion. The last job on the list is a tubular rear subframe as the factory strengthened one is starting to show its age, and it’s now cracked and torn from all those hard, 600kW launches. The other upgrade will be to a dry sump set-up so Ian can start using it a little more at the race circuit, at events like Power Cruise, Chrome Expression Session and things like dual-car sprints, which are run at Taupo.
So with this build nearing its end, will idle hands see another project surface? “I have thought about selling it, but it’s just not worth it. It’s just an expensive garage ornament, I have so much fun when I do these events, that I forget all about selling it. Who knows what will happen next now that this is done, I had thought about building a drifter but it’s sort of all been done. A nice cruiser, maybe a 13B turbo but in something really different. I have always had the thinking that if you come up with something unique and it works, it’s just that much cooler. Sure it’s not the easy route, but that’s half the fun.”
This is the kind of thinking we would love to see more of within the scene, people bucking trends and not just taking the easy route and following the tried and true. Sure, as Ian says, it’s more hard work, but the end result will also be that much cooler. We can’t wait to see what comes out of his next creation, let’s just hope it doesn’t take 15 years.
Make and model: 1992 Mazda Familia GTX (BG8Z)
- Engine: Mitsubishi 4G63, 2300cc, four cylinder
- Block: 2.3-litre stroker, JE asymmetrical pistons, Oliver I-beam rods, 100mm 4G69 crank, ACL Bearings, ARP main studs, Cosworth crank scraper, balanced rotating assembly, assembled by Hytech Engines
- Head: Kelford Cams port and polish, Ferrea valve guides/seals/locks, Ferrea competition plus 1mm oversize valves, Kelford beehive springs and titanium retainers, Kelford 288/290 custom-ground camshafts, HKS cam gears, HKS cambelt, Kiggly Racing HLA regulator, MAP L19 head studs
- Intake: Aftermarket cast intake manifold, 90mm throttle body, Garrett intercooler, three-inch intercooler piping, Gizzmo thermal gasket, Wiggins clamps
- Exhaust: Sinco Customs large runner manifold, Sinco Customs four-inch stainless dump pipe, Sinco Customs four-inch aluminium straight pipe
- Turbo: Borg Warner S400SX
- Wastegate: Twin TiAL 38mm
- BOV: TiAL
- Fuel: Twin Bosch 044 pumps, Aeromotive fuel filters, 26-litre custom alloy fuel cell, -8 Speedflow lines, twin feed HKS fuel rail, FIC 2150cc injectors, Aeromotive regulator
- Ignition: M&W Pro 14 CDI, JM Fabrications billet coil plate, 300M coils
- ECU: Link G4 Xtreme ECU
- Cooling: Custom radiator, stainless piping, twin 229mm fans, Mocal oil cooler, -8 Speedflow lines
- Extra: Link G4 boost control, launch control, flat shift and antilag, Innovate wideband O2 sensor, shaved engine bay, mini-tubbed, tube front end, deloomed, custom catch can, custom overflow bottle, custom gearbox scatter shield, polishing throughout, Speedflow fittings
- Gearbox: Ricardo five-speed, dog engagement straight-cut gears, Ikeya Formula sequential shifter
- Clutch: Quarter Master twin plate, hydraulic release bearing
- Flywheel: Quarter Master
- Diff: Evo III mechanical LSD, Evo V crown and pinion, up-rated Ralliart shim
- Extra: Custom strengthened driveshaft, custom chromoly axles, custom CVs
- Struts: D2 coilovers, camber plates
- Brakes: Wilwood reverse swing pedal box, hydraulic handbrake, (F) Wilwood Superlite six-pot calipers, Wilwood 330mm slotted and vented rotors, custom alloy hats, Hawk HP pads, (R) Wilwood Superlite four-pot calipers, Wilwood 310mm vented rotors, custom alloy hats, Hawk HP pads
- Extra: Ultra Racing strut brace, Ultra Racing fender braces, Nolathane bushes, custom rose joints, powder-coated suspension and subframe components
- Wheels: (Street)18x8-inch BSA, (Drag) 15x7-inch Racing Hart lightweight
- Tyres: (Street) Nankang NSII 215/35R18, (Drag) 24.5x8 Mickey Thompson ET Slicks
- Paint: Custom metallic mica blue with jade green pearl by Dave Matehaere (and still winning paint awards 10-plus years later!)
- Enhancements: Full Foxton Plastics kits, Custom Evo bonnet, deleted aerial, deleted locks, Evo IV halo headlights
- Seats: Racetech 4000W
- Steering wheel: Momo
- Instrumentation: AiM MXL Strada dash with live sampling from the G4 with gear display
- Extra: Sinco Customs six-point rollcage, Silvester five-point harness, deleted tyre wel
- Power: 606kW (813hp) at the wheels, 37psi boost, Klotz 118 octan, 410kW (550hp) at the wheels, 25psi boost, BP98, 10.37 at 142.5mph (229kph) on street tyres
- Driver/owner: Ian McKay
- Age: 32
- Location: Taumarunui
- Occupation: Agricultural contractor
- Build time: Ongoing
- Length of ownership: 15 years
- Thanks: Ross Honnor at DDT, Mike at Sinco Customs, Dick at Hytech Engines, Geoff at Fullrace, Kevin at Kelford Cams, Barry at MRP, Leigh Tidman, Dave Matehaere, Phil Adams, Karl Shaw, Simon Donovan, my brothers Neil and Ross for their help over the years, and to all my other mates for lending a hand when they could