Header image: Richard Opie 

Built in 1994 to decimate all competition at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Rod Millen's carbon-bodied Celica did so with ease, posting a time of 10:04.06, 40 seconds faster than the previous record of the last 13 years.

Photo: sourced

The 885kg, 633kW (850hp) TRD, 2.1-litre, four-cylinder–powered, tube-framed Celica was built solely with Pikes (then a full dirt road) in mind. No other racing was considered in its construction, giving it a unique design brief meaning the car maxes out at around 180kph — a point at which all the ground effects and aero are working at their most efficient. This makes the car brutally fast on any tight, small tracks. 

Wind the clock forward 23 years and the Celica isn't gathering dust just yet. It makes annual appearances at the likes of Leadfoot Festival, and it returned to Goodwood for the Festival Of Speed in late June. I'm guessing many didn't think he would put on a blinder and post the third-fastest time up the hill, hitting a top speed of 209kph (130mph). When you consider how tight, narrow, and short the track is, that's insane! Good on ya Rod, you're doing us Kiwis proud.

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.