We don't only feature fully modified vehicles in NZ Performance Car magazine — the mildly modified daily drivers get a look in too! It doesn't matter what it is — if you're passionate about it, modify it, and drive it to work every day, we'll showcase it!

NZ Performance Car: Hey, Mark. We have been following your Cefiro build for some time — it’s taken a pretty wild route. Did you always plan for it to be this insane? 
Mark Connell: Hey, guys. The original plan was to keep the car basic and simple, but, after having some wheels built by Shaun at Apex Effects, I decided [that] the rear guards needed attention, which then required me to call on some friends for preparation and paint. The scope of the build went well past what was originally planned.

So, it’s purely a track car now? 
With the combination of steering modifications and how I like to run the car down low, along with the wheels and tyres, I don’t believe the car would be legally allowed on the road.

How do you find it handles, being so low? Is there a bit of a trade-off between looks and performance?
The car is actually terrible to drive at low speed — it handles like a potato. Although, at speed, it is predictable and responsive with the modified steering. To me, I don’t drive to try to be competitive; I wouldn’t set the car up any other way than I have. I’m sure this is not the most practical car to drive, but it’s enjoyable. I guess my opinion has always been that a car must first look good, over something that has the highest power or fastest corner speed. As long as you’re with friends enjoying the time, … [that’s] all that matters to me.

We couldn’t agree more, Mark. Living in Reefton must make getting to any track days a bit of an ordeal. How long is the tow to Ruapuna? Do you have anywhere local you can skid?
It does take a big effort to get to track days. It requires an extra day off work for travelling, and towing through alpine passes means [that] you must be on your game with a reliable tow rig. It takes around four hours to tow from Reefton to Ruapuna, although I tend to try to break it up a little. I’m hoping [that] … Kohatu Park near Nelson will eventuate soon, as that will be excellent for the upper South Island region. Hokitika and Westport hold fun days and hill climbs in association with local clubs, so this is something I will be participating in, in between fun days in Christchurch.

The RB25 is making 275kW (369hp) — do you have plans to increase this, or are you more focused on getting some laps in?
At this stage, I’m excited to put in some time behind the wheel, because it has been a while since I have had a drive. That being said, a fuel injector upgrade and an alternative wastegate would see over 400whp [298kW] with the Steve Murch Holset-core turbo. I am a fan of keeping things basic and not overcomplicating with things that are not entirely necessary.
Thanks for your time, Mark. See you at the track real soon.

1989 Nissan Cefiro (A31) 

  • Engine: 275kW (369hp) at the wheels, Nissan RB25DET Neo, Steve Murch Holset-cored RB25 turbo, R32 GT-R fuel pump, Tomei fuel-pressure regulator, DSR coil pack, Rapid Performance three-inch exhaust, alloy radiator, dual electric fans, Nistune ECU reflash, Go Fast Bits (GFB) electronic boost controller
  • Drivetrain: R32 GT-R gearbox (RWD converted), Exedy five-puck clutch
  • Interior: Bride Artis seat, Takata four-point harness, Grex gear knob, dished woodgrain wheel, C-pillar power brace, Ultra Racing two-point room bar 
  • Exterior: Origin Labo Stylish Line aero, Origin Labo front and side canards, D-MAX 35mm guards, D-MAX 40mm rear over-fenders, D-MAX boot spoiler, 732 roof spoiler, brick headlights with strobe LEDs, blue chrome tints, Gandor wing mirrors, chrome Cefiro window trims, Cefiro window visors 
  • Suspension/brakes: D2 Racing coilovers, C’s Garage knuckles, C’s Garage extended lower control arms, C’s Garage steering-rack mods (25mm forward), Whiteline adjustable 28mm rear sway bar, adjustable rear camber and toe arms, GKTech adjustable front castor arms, Ultra Racing four-point rear strut bar
  • Wheels/tyres: (F) 18x9.5-inch (+14) Work VS-KF, 25mm spacer, 215/40R18 Achilles ATR Sport; (R) 18x11-inch (+1) Work VS-KF or 18x11.5-inch (+19) Work Rezax II, any 235/40R18

This article originally featured in the May 2016 issue of NZ Performance Car (Issue No. 233). You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the mag now: