Steve Ellicott’s 808 was never built for shows or to look nice; it was built to thrash — built to kill tyres and built to beat on! 

"When we pulled it out of the paddock from the back of that pig farm in Rotorua, I never thought it would end up like this,” Steve Ellicott told us over the raucous pulsing of his 13B. 

This was a build that sort of fell into his lap. It was nothing but a stripped shell, rotting away on the back of a farm, when Ryan — a good mate of Steve’s — purchased the wagon purely for its gutter chrome, then gave him the shell as payment for some tube framing. 

Steve wasn’t looking for a project at the time, as he still owned his infamous 1300 coupe — but, with the wagon sitting in his shed, plans started to formulate inside that mind of his. Plans to build a super-cheap hack to kill tyres with. It was to be such a cheap beater that an LS V8 was even chosen as the first engine option. “It made sense, as they are cheap, reliable, and can take a beating,” he explained. “I got as far as mounting it in the engine bay, but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do it. I would get sick seeing it in there and have to close the shed door and leave, so I had to rip it out.” 

It was a super-tight fit to get everything on the right-hand side of the engine bay. The 3.5-inch exhaust snakes its way around the steering box, manifold and bellhousing. To help with the packaging, the wastegate was mounted directly off the exhaust housing, and it exits out the front guard

 

 

Now, we are not ones to pass judgement on such conversions, but let’s just say that, thankfully, Steve saw the light and went down the more traditional route — if you can call a 373kW, E85-drinking, 13B turbo traditional. But, despite the change in engine direction, the plan was still only for a cheap throw-together — leaf springs and all. That was until Brock McCarthy entered the picture. 

Brock took delivery of the shell with instructions to lower the seat position and modify the tunnel. Now, we haven’t heard Brock’s side of the story, but Steve explained how a three-month timeline soon stretched out to 14 months: “Brock wasn’t picking up my calls, and then, a few months passed, and I went around to find [that] he had tubbed the car, telling me that he knew what I liked, and that I would have just ended up doing it.” Brock was right, and Steve was on board. From there on, things got rather serious, as the body and chassis mods started to rack up. 

The entire floor was removed and the rear chassis rails were C-notched and brought inwards 80mm on each side. Up front, the rails were shifted in by 30mm on each side, with a very extensive roll cage tying everything together. 

The front strut towers were also shifted inwards, and S4 RX-7 coilovers, 323 lower arms, and C’s Garage knuckles were bolted up. A trip to his uncle’s panel shop bore fruit when Steve scored a free Holden Rodeo rear end from a crashed truck, which he shortened by 200mm to remove any crash damage. Steve told us that the Rodeo item features bigger bearings and even bigger axles than the more popular Hilux alternative. It’s fair to say that when the rolling chassis arrived home from Brock’s, Steve’s worklist had more than tripled, and it included a ton of sheet metal work and a full tube-frame front clip to hang the coolers and front nose cone from. Once happy with everything it was handed over to Re-Juan for final welding.

The result of all this work isn’t as obvious as it might sound — it would take a super-keen eye to spot most of the chassis work, and, clearly, the workmanship speaks for itself given the ride height, the stance, and the amount of lock on tap, especially with those modified knuckles. There are plans to add a steering rack in the future, although that’s more about gaining extra room in the engine bay than steering feel. 

When it came to the engine combo, once the V8 was in the bin, Steve knew exactly what he wanted: a 13B with BorgWarner S366 and a big safe E85 tune making between 370 and 450kW. Mazin from M&M Racing took charge of building the 13B. The block is an FD RX-7 item that has been bridgeported on the primary ports and stage-two ported on the secondaries. The rest of the internals include S4 rotors with 2mm SCR apex seals and six-window rotor bearings. 

Since the wagon has been completed, Steve has contested around 15 burnout comps and trashed 20 sets of brand-new tyres. The rear guards are rubber caked on a 24/7 basis — a fact of life for a skid hack

 

 

On the Green Bothers dyno, the tune was kept safe to ensure that it would handle the abuse it was built for. All-out power was never the goal, and, with 22psi of boost, the 13B made 365kW and revved out to 8000rpm. It’s not making power all the way to the rev limiter, though, so a manifold change is on the cards in the near future. Not that the engine’s not doing the job now, as 20 sets of brand-new tyres down and 15 skid comps deep, the 13B is still going strong. “With E85, it just stays so cool. It idles around 60, and the hottest I have ever got it is maybe 110,” Steve said.

“That’s after a two-and-a-half-minute burnout. It’s exactly why I wanted to go E85 from the start. Yeah, it’s more expensive to set up at the start, but it’s worth it in the long run.” 
The car’s reliability hasn’t gone unnoticed by the V8 burnout guys either. Most of them wonder how the little ‘chicken cooker’ can possibly go round for round the way it does — pop a set of tyres, pull off, bolt on a new set, and line back up ready to rock — hell, we would like to have seen the LS attempt to repeat the performance. But it just goes to show that if a vehicle is engineered for purpose, it can do the job exceptionally well. 

Steve’s 808 is a well-appointed skid hack — something it makes no apologies for or attempts to cover up — it’s one raucous rotang built not to win shows or break the internet but to kill all tyres, and, for that, we salute it! 

he Mazda 808 is by no means a big vehicle, so the seating position has been lowered 80mm to give a little headroom

 

 

Steve Ellicott
Age: Younger than he looks
Location: South Auckland
Occupation: Builder
Build time: Three years
Length of ownership: Four years
 
Thanks: Everyone who’s helped out on the car or had a beer [while] chewing over ideas to do with it — you all know who you are; Mazin at M&M Racing, for the engine that takes one hell of a beating; Green Brothers, for the tune-up and constant advice with the car; RE-juan at Eccentric Develpoments; Karlos at K-Spec Fabrication; Brock, for the fab work; Brendon at No Cams, for all the tyres it constantly chews through; Grunter, for the paint; Kate, for putting up with the late nights on the car

1974 Mazda 808

Heart
ENGINE: Mazda S7 13B, 1300cc, twin rotor
BLOCK: Bridge-ported front and rear plates, stage 2 ported centre plate, SCR 2mm apex seals, S4 rotors, windowed bearings, genuine Mazda seats, new stat gears, Viton water seals
INTAKE: Ported S7 intake manifold, Real Deal radiator, three-inch intercooler piping
EXHAUST: 3.5-inch mild steel downpipe with V-bands, 3.5-inch steel exhaust with single muffler
TURBO: BorgWarner S366, equal length turbo manifold
WASTEGATE: Go Fast Bits 50mm (mounted on rear housing) 
BOV: TiAL 50mm
FUEL: 4x Bosch Indy Blue injectors, billet rail kit, Twin Bosch 044 main pumps, drop tank with internal surge tank, Teflon -8 braided lines, Aeromotive FPR
IGNITION: AEM smart coils, NGK R11.5 spark plugs
ECU: MicroTech LT16C
COOLING: Real Deal Radiators alloy radiator, Real Deal Radiators oil cooler, 406mm electric fan
EXTRA: Turbosmart e-Boost2, MicroTech AFR controller
 
Drive
GEARBOX: Richmond five-speed
CLUTCH: Direct Clutch Services twin-plate
FLYWHEEL: 5kg billet steel
DIFF: Modified Holden Rodeo, full spool centre, 4.3 ratio, custom driveshaft with billet yoke
 
Support
STRUTS: (F) FC RX-7 BC Red coilovers, (R) QA1 double adjustable coilovers
BRAKES: (F) FC RX-7 rotors, FD RX-7 calipers (R) Toyota Altezza calipers and rotors. Wilwood hydraulic handbrake
EXTRA: C-notched rear frame rails, mini tubbed, narrowed front rails, ladder bar rear links, C’s Garage knuckles, 322 lower arms
 
Shoes
WHEELS: (F) 15x8.5-inch Simmons FR15 (R) 15x10-inch Simmons FR15
TYRES: (F) 185/45R15 Falken (R) 225/50R15 Nitto NT01
 
Exterior
PAINT: Sealike blue 2K
ENHANCEMENTS: Mazda 808 nose cone, 12A Savanna RX-3 front lip, 12A Savanna front bumper, Lexan windows
 
Interior
SEATS: Racepro
STEERING WHEEL: OMP
INSTRUMENTATION: Racepak IQ3 datalogger dash

POWER: 365kW at the rear wheels on 22psi
 

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.

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