Old school is almost always cool-at least it is when you're not the one who has to pay the petrol jockey. These days the bowsers (uh, this might be NZ-speak for gas pumps - JN) are normally frequented by the super-rich. This makes it that much more satisfying to see a guy on a budget, like New Zealander Chris Murphy, put his hand in the face of economic reason. You see, Chris exerted an insane amount of effort into making perhaps the most uneconomical of engines drink a whole lot more.
Logic dictates that if you're worried about gas mileage then you don't buy a rotary-powered vehicle, especially one with a turbocharger that could easily double as a trash masher for the many piston engines that it can obliterate. But 20 year-old Chris is not one to let a petty thing like logic jam him up. This brings us to another illogical bit about Chris' car-this stunning custom silver '73 wagon is one hundred percent street legal.
In New Zealand the modification rules are a little bit more relaxed than in almost every other developed country in the world. This relaxed attitude suits this Mazda 808 just perfectly. Bear in mind that this Mazda is an 808 if you're looking at the rear end and an RX-3 if you're facing the front. Chris grafted an RX-3 front-end conversion onto his 808 because he likes the meaner look of the 3's visage.
There's a very different approach to take when doing up an old car (as anyone who's been left sitting delirious and cross legged on a garage floor at 3 am begging the spider gears to please come back and form an orderly queue at the differential, could tell you). Finding parts can be a real challenge, especially at short notice, but fabricating custom components usually works out better than fitting factory parts around modification plans.
The detail of the craftsmanship on this wagon would lead to you to believe that this job took months of work, but in reality the build-up only took ten very frantic weeks to complete, and all on a budget that required Chris to get his hands dirty-a lot. His own commitment, a few good mates, and some tamed parts suppliers helped get the RX808 ready for its debut at Wellington's Four and Rotary Jamboree, where it began a successful show season, being awarded Best RX Conversion, Best Wagon and People's Choice at various import events.
This car may look destined for a life of trailer transports and carpeted show floors until you recognize its innate ability to vanish, leaving nothing but a stinking pile of smoldering rubber in its wake. This 13B dual rotor turbo-powered wagon is never too difficult to find-just listen for a sound like a pack of snarling wild dogs armed with 12-gauge shotguns chasing a pack of terrified cats, all filtered through a PA system.
Getting an old school ride to get up and scream like a new import is a challenge too, but there are a couple of things worth remembering: vehicles like this wagon weigh about as much as Christina Aguilera would if you hosed off all of the skank, and anything can be beaten if you've got a big enough stick.
The big stick in this case is a force-fed 13B turbo, courtesy of a Series 4 Mazda RX-7 (think FC3S - JN), or at least the housing from one. This is joined by a couple of rotors from an S5, stainless steel seals, bolts and a dirty custom T04 (don't ask for the specs as he probably won't tell you). Chris set out to build a unique and effective all-rounder, and when you note the 45mm Turbosmart wastegate and the chiller mounted up front, it becomes plainly obvious that it's not just designed to look pretty on the show floor. This 13B gets its substantial fuel appetite sated by a 900-horse-friendly SX pump-and-filter combo in the boot, which looks like a scaled down version of a Kuwaiti oil field. The dual-rotor beastie is run by a Microtec LTX8 EMS.
Reigning in the kind of power that this wagon packs requires some serious goodies as well-and a close ratio Toyota Supra five-speed gearbox does the business here. A billet 9-inch pressure plate and five-puck clutch are used with a 14 lb billet flywheel, and the 4.5 final drive-toting diff has been donated (along with driveshaft and shortened axles) from a Toyota Tacoma.
Braided lines are used throughout, with Earl's fittings, cleaning up the engine bay beautifully. This old school special was even stripped of its under-bonnet (uh, the hood - JN), brake hardware and then fitted with a Wilwood pedal box and master cylinder, complemented by brake bias adjustment right under the dash. Series 5 RX-7 rotors and calipers are fitted at the pointy end with Pontiac GTO discs at the back.
The deep and lustrous paint turned a few heads at Jamboree-Orion Silver applied by Chris's mate Daniel Barlow. It's a top job, which wouldn't give away the fact that Daniel did it on Saturday at midnight after a few more libations than most painters tend to neck before they spray an aspiring show car.
The wagon's silver-on-silver look is finished off with a set of Simmons FR 17-inch rims wrapped in super-sticky Toyo T1S rubber, and firmly affixed to terra firma with a KYB coilover set at the front and a strengthened and flattened leaf set at the rear.
The other biggest look-creator has to be the major lack of a factory interior and the dirty great I-mean-business rollcage. For a bit more custom fun, the dash has been made from scratch in aluminum, and the RX-3 centre console in stainless steel, which sits between a pair of Autosport Kevlar race seats. The door trims are yet another unique feature of the 808-black over grey with stainless steel tribal-inspired rotor-design inserts. Auto Meter competition gauges monitor oil pressure, water temp, boost, fuel, RPM and speed.
Chris is already onto the next project-a full show and go RX-2 sedan, with plans to sink the wagon into the low 11-second range at the strip. And if he and his hugely enthusiastic and talented mates can pull something like this stunning wagon together on a tight budget in a mere ten weeks, then chances are this won't be the only lesson that Mr Murphy will be teaching us this year.
OWNER Chris Murphy
HOMETOWN Down Under, the New Zealand way
POWER 245 WHP, 220 lb/ft
UNDER THE HOOD S4 13B housing with S5 rotors, stainless steel seals and bolts throughout; Custom T04 turbo; Turbosmart wastegate & type 2 blow-off valve; front-mount intercooler; custom inlet manifold; four 12A turbo injectors; SX fuel pump and filter; Custom stainless steel turbo manifold, 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with rear muffler
DRIVETRAIN Toyota Supra five-speed transmission; five-puck clutch; 9-inch billet pressure plate; 14 lb flywheel; shortened Toyota Hilux differential
BRAINS Microtec LTX8 EMS
STIFF STUFF KYB coilover setup, rear leafs strengthened/flattened
ROLLERS Simmons FR17 17x7 (front), 17x9 (rear); Toyo Proxes T1S 205/40R17 (front), 225/40R17 (rear)
STOPPERS Brake hardware removed from engine bay, S5 RX-7 rotors/calipers (front), Pontiac GTO (rear), Wilwood pedal box and master cylinder, bias adjustment
OUTSIDE Orion silver paint
INSIDE MOMO wheel, Autosport seats, interior retrimmed, aluminum dash, stainless steel RX-3 center console, Auto Meter gauges, custom rollcage