Coming straight off the back of winning the Summer Nats Grand Champion, which is the single biggest award in the Australasian show-car scene, John Saad's RX-3 was loaded up in a metric ton of bubble wrap and shipped across the Tasman to be showed at the V 4&Rotary Nationals. If you made it along to see the vehicle in person, then we don't need to tell you it's jaw-droppingly amazing. But if you didn't, grab your drool bucket now.
Avid NZ Performance Car readers will have seen our feature on the RX-3 back in mid 2015 (NZ Performance Car Issue No. 222). Since then John has continued to improve the car, including the addition of 22-inch custom Simmons — his original dream wheels for the project. Around 7000 man hours went into the construction of FATRX3 over a four-year period. John began with a one-owner immaculate RX-3, and purchased the 22-inch Bonspeed ATOM billets that the car originally ran. Everything was built around the wheels, and it needed to be — fitting 22s under the factory sheet metal was never an option. One of the best things about the car is that there are no airbags — as you see it is how John drives it.
The extent of that bodywork goes well beyond jamming giant wheels under the guards. This car was built to win shows, so no detail has been overlooked. Take for instance the panel gaps; the team deemed OEM Mazda gaps too large, so they shortened the entire body to close up the gaps. The front nose cone and beaver panel have been reworked, and the rear vent shaved. The paint is a House of Kolor (HOK) Galaxy Gray.
John's favourite piece of the car is, hands down, the interior. Mike from Sewtime poured over 350 hours and six Nappa hides into the trim, handmaking each and every component. What's not trimmed is painted in the same HOK Galaxy Gray.
This attention to detail is best shown inside, and, although winning shows was the number one goal, the car still needed to be functional as John does drive it. A Dakota digital dash has been recessed into the custom steel dash, which also carries the same pinstripe line that the exterior features. To keep things ridiculously clean, the custom seats even have removable seatbelts for show time.
Despite appearances, the SCR-built Cosmo 13B turbo is a runner. The majority of the pipe work is polished-alloy hard line, and even the injection system has been neatly hidden under a polished-alloy box. You will not see a single wire, and 99 per cent of the engine bay components have been HPC-coated or polished. The engine bay itself features custom inner tubs with deleted strut towers (now double A-arm), a flat firewall, and a flush panel covering up the radiator and relocated hood latch. Oh, and, if you didn't notice, the bonnet also opens up the wrong way for an RX-3.
Underneath all this beauty the party continues with a full Mark Williams modular nine-inch housing, with polished billet-axle tubes, alongside an HPC'd custom four-link and the biggest Wilwood brakes we have ever seen, with 16-inch two-piece rotors and six-pot calipers.
The good news for all those that missed seeing the car in the flesh, or those keen for another look, is that it is still in New Zealand and the next chance to see it will be at the 4&Rotary North Island Jamboree on Sunday, March 6.