“Yep, $1500 will be plenty to build my RB25DE+T.”

Uttering those famous last words I dove head first into my first-ever engine build. At the time I was doing what could be called ‘amateur work experience’ at Regal Automotive in Tauranga with Craig Jacobs and Jeremy O’Connell. It mainly involved doing all of the jobs that didn’t require a lot of expertise. I stripped my engine down to its undies, gave the block and head a birthday — just all the usual stuff; skimming, honing, cleaning, etc. Craig and Jeremy supervised as I assembled the head, and gave me verbal instructions that allowed me to assemble the bottom end on my own.

In a matter of hours I had a long block and I was ready to begin adding the bolt-ons. I was gifted a front-facing plenum, which then forced me to purchase a top-mount manifold as the factory one just wasn’t going to cut it — I needed something to support my aftermarket turbo. Over the course of a few months I had a pile of shiny new parts for my girl.

I fitted the OZ Racing adjustable suspension, Hardrace camber and caster arms, and the new 17x9-inch TBC Wolf-replica wheels. The engine went in with the help of my partner, Simon, and a few friends. After wiring the engine in, and ensuring there was nothing I had forgotten to connect, it was time to start her up — this was far too nerve-wracking for me and I had to leave. With my good friend Dave Steedman and Simon working hard to get oil pressure, I went for a bike ride and told them not to call me until it was running; it was a long bike ride.

We had issues with acquiring oil pressure, but after endless attempts we had the honey flowing. It was so surreal hearing my car running for the first time — I cried. I had actually built an engine that ran!

Dave road tuned her so that I could run the engine in, and that evening, Simon and I spent ages driving the car around an industrial area to get some kilometres on the fresh engine.

A few weeks later I drove her onto the dyno at Concept Dynamic Motorsports. Thirty minutes and 260kW later, she was ready for action. I was too scared to drive it — actually, let me rephrase that … I was terrified. I ended up getting Simon to drive it home and I followed close behind. Once we got home, Simon got me in the passenger seat and took me for a spin. I held on for dear life and screamed at him as he boosted down the road. At that moment I made my decision — I was never going to drive this car.

After weeks of staring at it, I decided to grow a pair and drive the damn thing. Having that much power beneath my right foot was sensational. I gained some confidence and drove it everywhere — and I drove it fast!

After continuing work on the car until it was up to certification standard, it flew through. Within a week she was VTNZ-warranted, registered, and certified. Chris Macdonald, friend and ex-colleague at Colin Davis Panelbeaters, volunteered his knowledge and expertise to help me prep the car for paint. I bought a vertex bodykit and had my friend, and qualified panel beater, Zac Green modify and fit the kit, beat and prime the vehicle, and remove any rust that he came across.

Chris sacrificed a Saturday and we drove the car into the booth and painted it. Midway through the baking process we watched helplessly as a spider made its way across the wet bonnet and sunk into the not-quite dry paint. I assembled the exterior parts with a handful of friends the following Saturday and took it home complete.

It feels absolutely incredible being able to now step back and look at the car after three years of blood, sweat, tears, and being broke. I am so proud to say that I built this on my own, and it runs like a dream. Now for a little more power ...

I could never have done this without the help of my incredible parents and my partner who supported me the whole way, and financially helped too when I was broke from buying too many parts. Regal Automotive, you guys are like family to me and I thank you all so much for your hard work and continual support. Lin and CDM for offering your knowledge and always making the time to help me out. To everyone else who gave me the hook ups, or spent hours making this happen: Dave, Brendan at BNR Automotive, Evan at Speedfactor, Zac, Chris at Colin Davis Panelbeaters, Bentley at Bay Tyre and Alignment, Shenelle and Ez, Karl and Tammy, and everyone else ... thank you.