A wise man once said to me that New Zealand has an engine bay culture, so it should be of no surprise that the V 4&Rotary Nationals is the place that you would find the country's best examples of import bays. I went hunting for my personal favourites from the show. 

Black on black on black is still growing in popularity here in New Zealand. Dustin Ng's 2JZ-GTE-powered Nissan R34 sedan is a lesson in how to do it right. The VVTi 2JZ, runs Kelford cams, a billet intake manifold, Garrett GTX hybrid turbo, and a Sinco manifold. Dustin has carried out the majority of the work himself, including wiring in the  Link G4. The combo is yet to hit the dyno. 

Carl Thompson's 26B Toyota Aristo has just undergone a huge reworking by SMS Fabrication in order to make the bay a much more serviceable set-up. It has also received an all-new cooler set-up using a Bell Intercoolers core, and wiring using a Racepak PDL. The turbo is a large-frame Garrett GTX55, with a pair of 60mm TiAl gates exiting out the bonnet. Ignition is a M&W CDI and E85 fuel comes via 16 — yes, 16 — 1600cc Bosch injectors. The dry-sumped and nitrous-snorting 26B is now also backed by a Direct Clutch Services twin plate and Holinger HS6 sequential. Carl picked up Best Drift Car for the third time.  

Sitting on the NZ Performance Car stand was Jesse Remkes' E46 BMW rocking a 2JZ-GTE conversion. Another piece of proof that black on black is the new classic look, this stealth engine bay left a few wondering what exactly the power plant was. A stock block and head, Jesse is expecting around 400kW once the Link G4 is tuned. The intake manifold is a DKM Fabrication–built unit, and the Garrett GT35 sits on a custom Sinco manifold.  

Adrian ‘2-step’ Milne is another convert of the black on black. His 13B turbo runs a Borg Warner SX300 on a SDP manifold with a TiAL 60mm wastegate. Some might remember that this car crashed at Chrome a few months back, when the accelerator jammed under the brake — but looking at the bay you wouldn't know it now.  

Innovation is a hard game when dealing with an engine bay, but Bevan Aymes' immaculate RX-2 has done achieved this with a unique dual-pass intercooler set-up. Bevan cleaned up in the awards, including receiving the coveted RX Master.

Omar Shahab's Mk2 Golf had a real UK vibe about it, with its super-clean engine bay with a ton of work going into a manifold swap, and deleting anything that was not needed. Look out for a full feature in an upcoming issue of NZ Performance Car. 

When street mixes with strip you end up with an Evo like this. Barrel cooler, long runner headers, and a ton of other custom work by Ronnie at RSL. 

NA goodness coming in the form of Oscar Maisel's H22A-swapped EG4 Civic. The fully built H22A sits inside a smoothed and de-loomed bay. The detail has also been exteneded to electroplating each and every nut and bolt. Expecting around 170kW at the wheels, it will also be a screamer.

The MRT Racing NA 20B RX-7 runs an interesting intake set-up utilizing an X-Air intake, normally found on a Commodore, but repurposed. 

Daniel Smith's EG Civic bay was the standout Honda for us. The bay itself is super clean, having been fully de-loomed and shaved. The B18CR runs Toda ITBs, Buddy Club cams, and PLM Toda headers, with an ear-piercing 149kW at the wheels.   

One of the busiest engine bays was Shaun Judd's FC RX-7. More tube frame than FC, this home-built GTRNZ machine hides a CBR-built 13B turbo, making around 500hp, deep in the bay. Shaun has custom-built so many components for this car, you can literally stand there for half an hour and still be finding cool bits. 

The team from ST Hitec had a few big-power machines on their stand; this R33 GT-R was a clear standout, packing a 1000hp RB30/RB26 package. The parts list is just as droolworthy, with full forged internals, Kelford cams, HKS cam gears, Tomei oil pump, nine-litre sump, RIPS intake plenum, ID2000 injectors, HKS intercooler, GReddy oil cooler, and a HKS F Con Pro ECU. 

Catching a glimpse under the bonnet of most rotary-powered drag cars is a rare occurrence, so checking out the Pac Racing 20B / G-Force five-speed package that makes the six-second Godfather RX-3 tick was not to be squandered. Sadly, the ridiculous temps seen at Meremere that day meant sixes were out of the question. 

‘LETHAL7’ is another one of those engine bays that simply stops you in your tracks. Brendan from BNR Engineering is responsible for the fabrication work, while Autech took care of the engine build and tune. It's only on a run-in tune currently, but expect big numbers in the coming months. 

Taking out Biggest Power Output in Tough Street was John Prerez's ‘IMGOD’ R32 GT-R. Making 544kW, thanks to the HKS T51R, John's R32 is a true street weapon.  

Mitsubishi 4G63 VR-4 power can be found in one of New Zealand's nicest mini trucks: John Powar's ‘THAONE’ Mazda B2000. The engine features Wiseco pistons, ACL shot-peened rods, and ACL bearings. The turbo is a Garrett GT2876R sitting on custom top-mount manifold, and the intake manifold is also custom.  John's truck walked away with Best Overall Mini Truck. 

Tony Hill's super-rare GTAE Mazda Familia picked up Best Mazda in the piston class. The engine was put together by Hytec Engines and features fully forged internals, Franklin Cams, Quest Fabrication intake plenum and turbo manifold, Garrett GT30/40 turbo, and EMS8860 ECU. The team at Jtune have wired and tuned the car, which is currently producing 270kW on 18PSI. A tune in the near future on E85, and with a little more boost, will put the car easily in the mid-300kW range.  

One of the toughest Honda bays had to be the KFED Civic, now owned by Oscar Maisel. The stock-block K20 two-litre is pumping out 340kW to the front drag slicks, thanks to a Garrett GT35/40. One of the cooler and more unique features is the cabin-mounted PWR barrel cooler.  Best ET to date is an 11.5.

We have saved the cleanest until last: Podge Reid's Series 1 RX-7 bay is certainly a thing of beauty. The 12A bridge port, and all associated components, have all been chromed or polished. The engine bay itself has been de-loomed and shaved, and each and every component detailed, right down to things like the chromed wiper motors, polished camber plates, and chromed headers. Rightly so, the RX-7 won Best RX-7 (S1–3). 

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.