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Ask most people in the scene what they are doing the last weekend of January any year, and, nine times out of 10, the response will be, “that’s Nationals weekend, bro” — or at least it should be! Nats is the institution that we’ve all come up on — it’s the place to flex your automotive muscle to the masses, where we all come together, and where standards are set for the following year. So, as it has been for decades now, anticipation for this year’s event was high, and the buzz around the cars to be unveiled played out with rumours and whispers flying around.

Leading up to the weekend, there was much speculation about exactly who had been doing what and what we would see the covers thrown off. And, although overall entrant numbers seemed a little down on previous years, once the covers did come off, and the likes of this month’s cover car (Jacky’s widebody Evo wagon), the RE Automotive F1300 van, GT Refinishers’ Pandem Cayman, the ex-APC drag Evo, and a few special surprises (such as Alex Murray’s uber-clean 370Z) came to light, there was more than enough to satisfy our desires.

For many, however, there was one standout car that simply stole the show: Steve Ellicott’s skid hack–cum–show car Mazda 808 wagon — it set the standard, big time! So much so that our stand seemed to be mildly flooded as constant hordes of onlookers drooled in disbelief at the level of detail the wagon now has. Having been built in secrecy, and not seen by the public, it’s this type of unveiling that make events like the Nats special. We’d love to see more and more of these happen, and not be played out on social media beforehand. Steve would rightly go on to win the coveted RX Master and Best Extreme Paint.

An overriding theme for the big club displays this year seemed to be a focus on the darker side of life, with many of the clubs having themes with horror vibes and some scary-arse-looking display pieces and mannequins we’ll be having nightmares about for some time. RNR Performance took out top honours for its display, although the might of the Fijian Car Club could not be beaten, with the boys taking out Top Club Overall. We’ve seriously never seen so many gold-plated AK-47 shishas in one place. Hats off to the boys for taking another win.

Outside the halls, KW Stunts, strongman, and food alley provided some entertainment — especially when it got a little crazy in the car soccer. Big head-ons and bone-crunching impacts left a trail of destruction. It was more death race than soccer, but no one died, and, from the roars coming from the bloodthirsty crowd, there is certainly a future in that sport.

Following on from last year, the roll out, a new feature to the event, signalled the end to yet another Nationals show. If you didn’t stick around to see it this year, this new feature is something that you should check out next time. With two-step battles, big-boy free revs, and plenty of chassis scrapping as the halls are emptied, it’s a great way to end the day, and one that more people need to see.

So, what can we look forward to in 2020? Well, if you ask us, we’d like to see more secret builds unveiled and more clubs returning to keep this institution thriving. See you all in 2020, ASB Showgrounds, last weekend of Jan!

Super Rare

Airbags, a custom interior, and a 13B bridgeport are all things that no one ever thought they’d see in a Mazda F1300 van — but, then again, most people probably thought they’d never see a F1300, period! Todd Holland from RE Automotive is the man responsible for putting it together, with a custom rear chassis to accommodate the airbags and the ride height, and a set of 14-inch Cargar Quick Tricks. Full feature to come.

Ready to Rip

Now rocking a T04Z-strapped, R.I.P.S-built RB30 putting out 489kW, Ron’s C35 Laurel is no stranger to the scene, having been around for the past decade in various forms, although none as serious as this. Robbie from R.I.P.S has put together a tough bottom end with forged internals, while sitting on top is a mildly ported head with Kelford cams. The rest of the driveline comes from an R34 GT-R, including the subframes and brakes. A regular at Meremere, Ron is hoping to pull a mid 11 with this combination.

Stealing the show

Taking out RX Master was Steve Ellicott’s completely reworked ‘LOROTA’ 808 wagon, which is now seriously tucking a set of Work Equips thanks to new rear tubs — and would you believe it gets full lock at this height? The extent of the panel fabrication that has gone into it over the past eight months is mind-blowing; there is really only the roof and one door left of the old car, with widened sills and tubed rear doors with raised door latches — even the bonnet has been skinned on the underside. Despite the fact that over 200 hours went into the paint alone, this is no show pony. Steve’s burnouts will still be as ruthless as we’ve come to expect. And those rear tubs? Well, their main purpose is to squeeze a drag tyre underneath, so watch this space …

Popping the bubble

How many promo girls can you squeeze into a super-rare Mazda R360? The answer is nine, as we found out. One of the latest editions to Tony Markovina’s seriously impressive Mazda collection, the JDM-only R360 is rear-engined, powered by a 356cc air-cooled V-twin. And despite the feather-light weight of only 380kg, Tony has only ever managed to hit 35kph in it.

Boosted K

Jayden Broad’s ’97-spec Honda Civic EK — featured back in Issue No. 234, when it was motivated by a turbo B18CR — has gone under the knife to be repowered with a DC5 Type R K20A heart. It features a hefty-sized Holset HX40 hanging off the side of the two-litre and makes use of a Bespoke Fabrication sidewinder manifold, twin Turbosmart Comp-Gate40s exiting out the bonnet, and a 3.5-inch downpipe, the idea being to pump a good 15–18psi through it to make roughly 370kW at the fronts.

Shred Time

Brad Wright’s FC RX-7 has been progressing nicely over the past two years and is now ready to hit the dyno. The 13B turbo is backed by a TTi sequential and Mazdaspeed limited-slip diff (LSD). The FC features some wild engineering with rear-mounted oil coolers and a tonne of other cool little details. But, if you ask Brad, he is just hanging out to blow some tyres off the Weds in the coming months!

 

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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