Not long ago, my crew Team Four Up had their first-ever Christmas BBQ in Whangaparaoa, an hour north of Auckland. A close-knit group of around 15 Japanese car enthusiasts, we discussed the possibility of a few of the team’s making an appearance at the V 4&Rotary Nationals show and shine. Those interested put their hands up, a plan to get the cars completed was hatched, and everyone went their separate ways knowing that the months ahead would be strenuous. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that my Civic was up to it, so decided to kick back, and watch the builds unfold before me. 

There’s nothing quite like the build-up to the Nationals, and it’s something us car nuts hold close to our hearts, because as shit as it is during the lead-up, it’s always, hands down, the best weekend of the year. And, with Auckland Anniversary the Monday after, there’s always 24 hours in which you can sleep before heading back to work on the Tuesday. 

We’ve got a decent range of vehicles in the crew, but most seem to be from either Nissan or Toyota. Caleb Thorne’s Toyota Altezza is one that I’ve been keeping a close eye on for a while now, as he’s a lover of big fitment, lots of camber, and scraping cats eyes off the street. 

Caleb’s 2003 Toyota Altezza has been turbocharged, and sits on 18x10.5-inch Work Meister wheels. The amount of camber to get these wheels inside the guards is pure crazy, and yes, it does get driven like this. BC BR–series coilovers with 20kg springs keep the Altezza slammed and the guards off the wheels. 

A few issues of NZ Performance Car back, we took a closer look at Benjamin Baker’s Nissan Skyline R31 as a Cruise Mode feature. The 1991 Skyline received plenty of hours during the build-up to the show, with a respray, revived engine bay, and madly polished 15x10-inch (-6) Weds Southern Ways wheels. The turbocharged RB30 runs an M&H turbo, Blitz blow-off valve, and a front-mount kit. 

With BC BR–series coilovers, S13 hubs, and S13 steering conversion, it doesn’t handle too badly either. Mazda MPV coilovers have been grafted to fit down the back, so Ben is able to lower the Skyline down. There are serious changes coming for the wagon, but Ben is keeping us waiting for now ... 

One car that just got fired up a month out from the show was Josh Vaughan’s 1977 Datsun 260Z, thanks to the addition of triple Weber carbs on the factory L26 motor. Josh has carried out a 280Z five-speed conversion, and has installed D2 coilovers to wind the Datsun down onto the rare set of Hoshino G5s. The sound that the in-line six-cylinder triple-carb–equipped engine produces is nothing but pure intoxication. 

Another low-down ’70s coupe from Team4UP comes from Dean Johnson. Although slightly newer and fuel-injected, Dean’s L28-powered Nissan has been turbocharged and gives off a completely different noise to Josh’s Datsun. The T3/T4 turbo is ample for the factory bottom end L28, and just gives Dean that little bit more squirt when required. Wound down on BC BR coilovers with a set of 15x9-inch (-45) Black Racing Rs, it certainly has a staunch appearance on the street. 

Jorgia-Rose Vaughan’s 1975 Toyota Crown is certainly worth a mention, because, as almost factory as it is, there’s always people gawking at it. Perhaps it’s the rarity of the vehicle, the wheel fitment, or a combination of both, but it sure is cool! The ’75 Crown sits on lowering springs and shortened shocks, with 15x10-inch custom wheels with Toyo tyres. One of the coolest things about the Crown is that it only has 50,000kms! 

There’s always gotta be at least one skid hack in the crew, and in our crew the car that burns the most rubber leaving our BBQs is Sam Hurley's R32 sedan. Powered by an RB25DE+T, it’s no slouch either.

Running a Link ECU, 650cc injectors, and a Garrett GT3582R turbo it makes some serious grunt. The sedan has an R32 front end, custom green paint, BR coilovers, and Blitz 03s to set off the exterior. A classic Japanese look that certainly turns a few heads. 

Another Skyline that was completed just before the show is Andrew Smuts and Tarsha Scott’s R34 GTT. With a decent freshen up before the event, a new set of 18x9-inch and 18x10-inch Advan RS wheels, Tein coilovers, Cusco castor arms, and front and rear camber arms, it certainly has the set-up to handle well. That, and it packs 210kW at the wheels thanks to a GFB boost controller, Blitz front-mount intercooler kit, high-flowed turbo, and Blitz Nur cat-back exhaust. 

Last but certainly not least, is Mitchell Cowley’s Nissan Silvia S13. Mitchell kept this build under wraps and unveiled at the show, and there’s no guessing why. With a genuine V1 Rocket Bunny kit, 16x9.5-inch BBS RS wheels, turbo SR20, and genuine Japanese parts everywhere, Mitchell certainly has gone all out and there’s no denying it grabbed the most attention at our stand. 

You will no doubt be seeing more from our crew in the near future, as we have plenty more vehicles in the build that will blow your mind! 

Tell us what crew you represent in the comments below. 

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.