“Everything new is old.” Heard that one before? Well it’s true. When people moan about putting BBS wheels on a Golf, because they want to see something ‘different’, you know what? Chances are somebody did your ‘different’ thing a long time ago. I’m sure in the future there will be two distinctly recognisable eras of car modification: pre and post internet.

Karl Fiara’s Mk1 Escort is a trip back in time for me; sat here in the glorious sun of the recent Players Classic Show at Goodwood it transports me back around 20 years. To when you had to be at one of the big season-opening shows to see what everybody had been building during the winter, where you could catch up with friends without knowing how many laps of the Nurburgring they’d done the month before,when the excitement was tangible in the air and cars like this Escort two-door were more commonplace and that can only be a good thing.

There was something familiar about the Ford when I first saw it the previous weekend at the Classic Ford Show at Santa Pod in the UK. It was parked on the stand as the guys had decided to award it best wheels of the show. A quick conversation saw them invite Karl down to Goodwood for the following weekend, where the Escort did a great job of attracting the crowds.

The Players crowd rightly enjoyed the old Ford. Walking around it and then talking to owner Karl Fiara it still felt achingly familiar, but it was still no small surprise to find that the Escort was built over 20 years ago. Which places it slap bang in the middle of my ‘golden era’ for car modification in the UK. It’s an age thing y’see: I’d just started driving and anything seemed possible, regulations were slacker than they are now, the police didn’t run your plates from half a mile away through a computer and there was less traffic on the road.

Sure the Escort isn’t immaculate. It has proper patina though; it’s a survivor, unlike a lot of its contemporaries. The early ’90s were a time when half decent cars that weren’t overly complicated were cheap enough to chop up without really caring. You had sleek, simple, cool and sometimes boxy shapes from the ’60s and ’70s that could be built in a home workshop on a budget without looking like some vintage renegade that was about to fall apart. Pastel shades were popular, grunge music and rebellion were in the air and change was happening after the all-consuming hunger of the ’80s had exploded at the end of the decade.

Like I said, it was pre-internet and you’d make a scene by building something to go to a show, and using it until the annual inspection test ran out. Cutting the roof off and welding a four foot gearstick on it, roof chops that left a windscreen the size of a letter box, home built chassis with the abundant Rover V8 slotted in because there were plenty of them in the scrapyards and they sounded good. Splatter painting it at home, the louder the better; it was about having fun. That’s what this Escort reminds me of.

The V8 first went in around ’86/87, with the Escort being stripped down shortly after and the full build taking place. So what you’re looking at now is a 1969 Escort bodyshell mounted over a home-built, ladder style box section chassis. It was all built up by Warren Cole, who amazingly was here at Players Classic too. Karl bought the Escort complete as you see it in the late ’90s, tucking it up in his garage shortly after, only getting it back out very recently as Warren lives fairly locally and it seemed like a good opportunity for a reunion (also as he’d thought previously the Escort was long gone).

But it’s obviously very much alive. Nowadays any Mk1 Escort two door shell is worth big money to the right buyer. So to see one like this is unique. I know of a handful of V8-engined examples but all of them retain a very ‘enthusiast’ orientated look to them. This thing? It stands alone for me. What Warren wanted was a fairly simple, very low cruiser that he could use anywhere, any time.

He used everyday, affordable, mechanical parts that combined in the right way to make something that grabs your attention. It wasn’t long after the era of everybody naming show cars, so you used to add small phrases here or there, much like a well-placed sticker these days. Like the hand painted “Kin LOW” on the handbrake cable carrier. Did we mention it was low? Well maybe not as much as you might think.

That’s the beauty of channeling the body over a new chassis: everything is tucked up out of harm’s way. Airbags were still a decade away from becoming vaguely affordable or practical so this was the best way of keeping everything safe.

The reason why it was on the stand is because of these Revolution RFX wheels. We all know hot rods and drag cars run big and little combos, but one of the stand out, gutsy choices of this build has to be the 9x16s out back…

… and the skinny 5.5x13in same style on the front. Revolution are a traditional UK-based wheel company and the RFX is probably one of their most memorable wheels; it’s a real late ’80s/early ’90s choice. You can often date a build by wheel choice and these are spot on; remember again most factory cars were riding around on 14s or 15s maximum at this time. Many smaller cars still ran 13s, so the big 16s on the back were literally that. BIG.

No inner wings mean clearance isn’t a problem and the rear end has been tubbed to cover the 245/50x16in tyres. The pastel paint spills over to all the components and suspension parts; again this bright colour coding was really indicative of the time. Looking back I can only really think this was because body-coloured bumpers had been around for five to ten years on mainstream manufacturers cars, so the modified scene started to emulate this and add a little more.

Although of course the Escort has retained its factory standard chrome bumpers and oblong headlights, rarer than the usual round items and showing it’s now desirable 1300GT origins.

The body is largely stock, save for some stretched front arches, but there are a few extra holes around the place. The most obvious is for the standard SU carbs to poke through the bonnet, as clearance was needed and let’s face it, those two inches or 50mm would have meant more space under the sills… not an option.

The other one is for the top-mounted windscreen wiper, which although looking a little messy to some eyes is a clever solution to a problem that would otherwise thwart a builder with less imagination. There’s just no room above the back of the engine for a traditional set-up, although Karl and Warren were discussing the cable-driven wipers of a Mini that could be used now…

Inside you’ll find a period RS steering wheel and behind that a standard set of Rover P6 gauges that talk to the engine and gearbox easily.

There are no top-mounted pedals like standard, because of course Warren made the chassis, which means the hidden master cylinders are now activated by these.

Another blast from the past are the Huntmaster bucket seats. Sure they’re no Takatas but again these are twenty-five years old and you felt like a proper race driver when you bolted a set of these in.

Here you can see them reflected in the polished door panel; again, simple and stylish, it all helps to keep the Escort of the period yet timeless all the same.

This is probably the best view to see just how dramatic the difference in wheel size is, which just adds to the toy car effect I hear people mention when they see the Escort.

The chrome window trim on a Mk1 Escort has always been one of my favourite styling cues; it neatly encapsulates the glass in a bubble, making a very ordinary shape kind of special. You can also see the almost body colour, swage pinstripe line. Another ’90s favourite was extra locks and security devices, because you could ‘lift’ a Mk1 Escort as easy as a toilet seat.

So how does a car built on a budget in a home garage twenty five years ago keep turning heads today? To tell the truth I’m not sure, it could be a case of being ‘simply clever’.

There are no wild graphics, it’s just very well observed. Both Warren and now Karl wanted a very low Escort, itself a very popular car, that could be used any time. Add some instantly recognisable wheels in a slightly outrageous choice of sizes, a burbling V8, pastel bodywork and you tick a lot of boxes.

I’m just glad Wheel Whores spotted it and convinced Karl to come along to Players Classic, so now you guys get to see the Escort after all these years.

And yes, I know I’m perhaps being overly sentimental towards the time this was built, because of course, every generation has its favourites. That’s how the march of time works, but this simple Escort proves to me that good things never go out of fashion and now a whole new audience can appreciate it and be inspired.


Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: brynem


Karl Fiala’s 1969 1300GT Ford Escort V8

Chassis mounted, Rover 3.5ltr V8 on standard SU carbs

Rover four speed manual gearbox, narrowed Ford Capri 3.09 baby Atlas axle

Rack and pinion steering with modified arms, Cortina Mk4 independent front suspension, shortened springs, narrowed cross member, Cortina Mk4 front discs, Jaguar rear coilovers located on L brackets,  panhard rod, Competition Engineering ladder bars with solid rod ends, standard Capri drums

Custom-made box section with narrow front end and kicked up rear, body channeled around 6in

Revolution RFX 5.5×13 with 135/80×13 tyres (front), 9×16 with 245/50×16 tyres (rear)

All steel 1969 Ford Mk1 Escort, removable front end, stretched front arches, reformed bulkhead, raised tunnel and floor, tubbed rear, Citroen roof mounted wiper unit, enlarged radiator aperture in front panel, DZUS bonnet clipped at front, additional door locks

Two Huntmaster bucket seats, Rover P6 instrument panel, handmade pedals, underfloor clutch/brake cylinders, bespoke fuel tank in boot, battery fitted NSR, right hand side hand brake lever using Morris Minor cables




source: speedhunters

Mad Max Honda At Speed Ventures

Honda N360 N600 Vintage Mad Max Time Attack Car Streets Of Willow Speed Ventures

Can you guess what kind of car this is? If Mad Max drove a vintage Honda in a time attack series, is this what you would imagine his car to look like?

We were carspotting at the most recent Speed Ventures event at Streets of Willow, and saw this old school Honda with monstrous box flares, front lip spoiler and a huge front bumper. Let’s not forget the big wing up top, and the center mounted driver seat and steering wheel!

It looks something like a classic Honda meets time attack car built by Mad Max meets a dekotora meets Mater from the Pixar film Cars. This thing looks ridiculous, and we LOVE it.

Can you think up a good caption for this photo? The winner gets props and a shout out on our Facebook page and/or Instagram!




source: motormavens

Rat Style 1963 Volkswagen Panel Van

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Scott Penhaligon’s rat style 1963 VW Panel Van

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but that’s not always the case. Turn back to the above to this very feature, an image lovingly crafted by our talented, and somewhat good looking, snapper Laurens Parsons. In all probability it’s a picture that’s only really worth two words I’ll give you a clue, they start with an ‘F’ and end in an ‘uck me!’

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

You see, a picture like this is designed to evoke emotion, it’s designed to provoke that part of your brain that just can’t do anything but make you scream ìWOW!î It’s there to make your jaw unintentionally drop and your eye’s glaze over like some sort of prehistoric fella who’s just clapped eyes on a George Foreman Grill.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Of course, there’s an entirely unemotional, scientific explanation; it’s probably got more to do with apertures, exposures and photographic genius than actually setting fire to a workshop. I mean, all the fire doesn’t even have anything to do with the vehicle we’re featuring in the first place, it’s just an awesome image, but then again that’s the point.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

It’s exactly the same thing with this crazy ‘63 Splitty created by air-cooled nut Scott Penhaligon; it’s the kind of ride that actually makes you go numb. There’s no denying a shit-load has gone into this particular 11-window panel van over the last 8-years or so; it’s a far cry from the days where, bizarrely, it was used as a Swedish school bus.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

After owning a score of ‘interesting Beetles’ and a 69’ Dodge Monaco lowrider Scott started this epic project in 2003 and has completed most of the work himself. Judging by the massive spec, it’s no wonder this bare bones restoration has taken a few years too, and as for that crazy tubbed, trailer tent? We’re surprised it didn’t take a damn sight longer!

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

There’s plenty here you couldn’t really describe as mods in the first place; more like ‘epic engineering challenges.’ It is after all a VW Camper and, at this level of air cooled madness, nothing is strictly bolt-on. But then, if you don’t get it you just don’t get it, it’s not just a build, for Scott it’s an obsession.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

The experimental polished lacquer that’s reapplied every year, the hand-painted red wall tyres that have to be re-done every few months, all the details that you wouldn’t even notice the first time round, it all adds up to a masterpiece born out of hard graft. But does any of that really matter?

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

The point of this Camper is far more simple, Scott has spent years crafting and perfecting his bus, yes it’s an engineering marvel and yes it makes him nothing short of a god in the car world but after all this, it’s not what he’s done or how he’s done it that’s important.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Like that opening image this ‘ACME Van’ is an emotional offering, like any work of art it’s about nothing other than how it makes you feel. Everything else, dear user, is irrelevant.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Outside stripped, chemical cleaned, polished and lacquered in home brewed super-satin; stainless Autocraft grilles; Lucas spotlights; Unity swiveling police light; Safety Star rear brake light; Schofields rear vent trims; Hurst style bar; OG Deluxe trim; Ally Deluxe top hinge covers; truck mirrors T-handle on rear hatch; modifi ed rear 4-leg HWE rack; polished front safaris; rear stainless safari; twin mount aerial; custom red fabric sun visor.

2007cc Nigel Alan lump; twin 40 DRLA carburettors; Webcon fuel pump; Flame Thrower coil; stainless steel sidewinder exhaust; Kennedy clutch; Scat swivel feet; Kennedy pressure plate; straight cut gears; Scat camshaft kit; Bug Pack Race Valve Covers; Fram oil filter setup with external cooler; 2600mm Porsche fan and alternator red painted engine bay.

Satin black 15-inch JGE Radar wheels, each pinstriped in red and white; Bravado 185/65×15 redband tyres (rear); hand painted red band 185/50×15 tyres (front); SPAX adjustable shocks; 4-inch narrowed Weedeater beam; 2.5-inch drop spindles; IRS rear with 1303s box chassis; Creative adjustable rear spring plates; steering box raised and column shortened; notched chassis ìhere and thereî; dual circuit remote servo brakes.

Empi Racing bucket seats; Mountney steering wheel with Independent Trucking centre cap; stock dash with aperture for Swedish ticket machine plated up; Scat quick shifter; Speedwell red lap belts; Sport Comp rev counter and shift light; Sunpro oil temp gauge; Alpine Media Expander, V12 and 4/3/2 amps and components; separate leisure battery.

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Volkswagen Panel Van VW

Volkswagen Panel Van VW




source: fastcar

Retro New VW Beetle

New VW Beetle Blue

Clare Toman’s retro new VW Beetle

As I sit down to write this feature I’m wearing my Nike classic sneaks and listening to some ’90s trance tunes. What’s this got to do with this sick Beetle I hear you say? Well, the point is, whether it’s fashion, music or cars, we all love a bit of old skool!

New VW Beetle Blue

Just ask 24-year old Lurgan-lass Clare Toman; she’s always fancied a ’70s Beetle but needed modern reliability and fuel efficiency. Many would have given up the dream and settled for a ‘normal’ daily driver but not Clare, she had a much better idea by combining the best of both!

New VW Beetle Blue

It all began with a standard black 2.0 petrol bug of 2001 vintage. Clare bought it two years ago and immediately went for a ‘Barbie’ theme, slamming it on Pink BBS rims.

New VW Beetle Blue

She soon got bored though and acting on an impulse, decided one day that together with boyfriend Graham, they were going to give up the weekend’s clubbing to strip, prep and paint the car purple. Luckily, Graham is a bit handy with a spray gun so even with a bit of bumper and bonnet smoothing, they managed it in good time.

New VW Beetle Blue

That look lasted a few months but Clare really wanted something different which is when the retro theme took over. Online auctions then became a regular pastime as she spent hours on end sourcing a number of old skool parts.

New VW Beetle Blue

First it was the ’70s Beetle interior. It arrived in great nick but the seats were a little too orange in colour so were dyed brown and cream before being slotted in place. The door cards were then neatly tailored to suit and a section of the dash trimmed in cream to tie it all in.

New VW Beetle Blue

To complete the cabin, there’s an analogue radio, retro carpet, an old ’70s steering wheel that was cleverly modified to fit and yes, that is a door knob on the gear stick!

New VW Beetle Blue

As interiors go, this is one cool place to be, so the exterior had to match. Steelies with chrome hub-caps and white-wall tyres were a must but finding the right rims was tricky. The fronts were easy; standard 15-inch VW steels but the rears are 8-inch wide Nissan drift wheels with a zero offset and wobble bolts!

New VW Beetle Blue

The killer stance is courtesy of a Golf air-ride system, where top mounts have been adapted to suit, as well as a little chassis notching and camber work.

New VW Beetle Blue

To cap off the styling, a genuine ’70s Beetle roof rack was carefully cut and fitted. It took a lot of work and swear words, but it really brings the whole car together.

New VW Beetle Blue

Trying to blend retro mods with a modern car generally doesn’t work but Clare has really nailed this look. “It just feels like a 70s Beetle from the inside, but at least it starts every day!” she laughs. It’s even been converted to LPG so is cheap to run too. So there we have it; retro, cool, reliable, cheap to build and run, what more do you need? A hot girl to drive it? Done!


Debadged with smoothed bumpers and bonnet; resprayed purple with black gloss roof; ’70s roofrack customized to fit & period luggage.

6×15-inch VW Steels on front, 8×18-inch Nissan deep dish steels on rear with 0mm offset, fitted with wobble bolts; Genuine VW ’70s chrome Beetle hub-caps; stretched white-wall tyres; custom air suspension (from Golf kit) with modified top mounts; chassis notching and camber work.

Full ’70s Beetle interior including front and rear seats; period style custom door cards and carpet; ’70s Beetle steering wheel; Analogue radio; trimmed dash; extended gear lever with old door knob.

115bhp standard 2.0 petrol engine, converted to LPG.


source: fastcar

All-New 2014 Lexus IS Debuted at the 2013 NAIAS

Lexus has officially revealed the next-generation Lexus IS at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  For 2014, the all-new Lexus IS will be offered in IS 250, IS 350 along with F SPORT model and the first IS Hybrid model- the IS 300h. The IS hybrid will be available in Europe, Japan and other international markets.

With the all-new Lexus IS, every feature has been engineered with a new focus on connecting performance, handling and response of the vehicle to driver input and onion.  According to Lexus, the whole development of the all-new IS has been adopted with a completely different attitude targeting the driving performance along with the new bold design accommodating that new attitude.  The all-new Lexus IS design includes a new, powerfully articulated headlamp cluster design with Lexus’ trademark, L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL) located independently below.


The all-new Lexus IS 250 is powered by a 2.5-L V-6 engine and the IS 350 is powered by a 3.5-L V6 engine.  The Lexus IS 300h uses the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain, based on a newly developed 2.5L Atkinson-cycle engine.  The Lexus IS 350 is equipped the 8-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission inherited from the IS F with faster shifts, full torque converter lockup and throttle blips when in manual mode.

The new Lexus IS comes with the Drive Mode Select system offering up to four switchable driving modes: ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+, S+ is available only on the IS 350.

The Lexus IS F SPORT model is characterized by the exclusive spindle front grille, bumper and unique 18-inch alloys wheels designed inspired by the LFA.  Interior, it is differentiated by having F SPORT parts including shift knob, steering wheel, aluminum pedals along with scuff plates with the Lexus logo.


source: japanesesportcar


With so many ’70s and ’80s cars on show at last weekend’s ‘V’ 4&Rotary Nationals in New Zealand, it seemed only right that I dedicate a whole post to the old school. And as I mentioned in my first post from the event, I’m going to kick things off with one of my favorites. Although by no means the most modified oldie car at the show, this rotary-converted 616 sedan oozed style reminiscent of a bygone era of Japanese touring car racing. That, and it wouldn’t look one step out of place at the JCCA New Years Meeting either.

I love the detail, right down to the hand-painted black-over-red scheme and retro Castrol livery – especially with its off-white hue. Of course, a super-low ride height and fat SSR MkIII rims have helped the cause as well.

I was a little surprised to find the 616 retro-fitted with a late-model 13B engine and big single turbo conversion, rather than an old school ported naturally aspirated set up. It’s a nice juxtaposition though. This little car certainly isn’t going to be short on power!

Although outwardly complete, it looked like the owner still had a little bit of work to complete inside the car; and perhaps (hopefully) in the same vintage racing vein as the exterior. One thing’s for certain: we definitely need to take a closer look once it’s all done!

The 616 was just of many cool old school cars on show at the Nationals. From show-quality builds…

…in this case a ’74 Mazda RX-3 coupe with a high-powered 20B triple-rotor motor…

…to less-polished creations, like this naturally aspirated skid machine – the show had cars to appease all tastes.

As original Mazda rotary-powered cars from the late ’60s and early-to-mid ’70s have always commanded good money in New Zealand, for a long time Kiwi rotor-heads have looked to other rear-drive Mazda options as a basis for conversion.

In that respect the humble 323 variants of  late ’70s and ’80s vintage are by far the most popular, not to mention simple to convert from four-cylinder to RE power. These cars now make up the basis of a large slice, perhaps even a majority share, of New Zealand’s old school rotary population.

Which in turn has pushed up the price of those cars – especially if they’re in original condition and ripe to be ‘rotor-rized’.

Of course, there are no shortage of genuine cars too, like this rare, right-hand-drive 1976 RX-3 station wagon…

…and this simple but effective ’74 RX-4 coupe.

At the other end of the spectrum is the vintage VW scene. New Zealand’s always been a little behind the eight ball when it comes to modified  – as opposed to faithfully restored – Beetles, Buses and the like. Hopefully this recent Swedish import, a modern-built Pro Stock adaption of ‘Herbie’, might inspire a few people into action though, because it’s seriously cool.

If the body isn’t cool enough the built 2.4L flat four with 910 Autocraft heads and twin Geers Terminator carbs certainly is. You gotta love that exhaust manifold and stinger pipe too! I can’t wait to see this thing run – it’s good for 10s I’ve been told.

Old Fords on the other hand have a good following, mainly thanks to the thousands upon thousands of Cortinas and Escorts that were sold here during the ’60s, 70s and early ’80s.

And the same goes for Toyotas. This track-spec TRD N2-kitted ’84 KP61 Starlet has broken convention with a Beams 3S-GE from a Toyota Altezza instead of a 4A-G.

A work-in-progress that seemed to be attracting a lot of attention was the Pimp Palace Customs ’77 Mazda B1600.

Built over a brand new custom chassis, PPC’s project has some really nice engineering and cool details to boot. Oh, and a mid-mounted Toyota/Lexus 1UZ-FE V8 complete with high-mount Garrett GT42 turbo, and backed up by a Subaru 4WD gearbox that’s been converted to a 2WD transaxle. I really like where this thing is going…

It was good to see this RX-2 finally back together after a five-year hiatus, and looking very purposeful now too. Unfortunately for the team behind the car, there’s now an engine malfunction issue to resolve before we get to see it out on the strip again.

While there are only a handful of genuine EX Turbo Lancers left in New Zealand, there’s no shortage of Grandma-spec machines. That, of course, makes them ripe for tuning. Apart from the obvious external upgrades – namely Work Equip 03 rims and a suspension drop – this particular car features a custom designed and fitted 5-link adjustable rear end, and a shortened-to-suit L200 commercial back axle with LSD. Why?

Because of a built Mitsubishi 4G63 complete with sizeable Garrett turbo now residing under the hood. This old girl should go very well once she’s all finished off!

And so too should this New Zealand-new ’74 Datsun 240K GT – aka C110 ‘Kenmeri Nissan Skyline GT-X.

Although its body styling is subtle, the same can’t be said for the engine room, where you’ll find an RB30 with a Garrett T72 hanging off the side. The blacked-out intercooler up front is a nice sleeper-style touch.

There’s much to like about this ’76 RX3-faced and 13B-powered Mazda 808 wagon too.

First gen RX-7s seemed a bit thin on the ground, but this unique 12A turbo car was one example repping the SA22C chassis well.

The ultimate beach cruiser? It’s hard to beat a low, pastel two-tone painted Beetle!

Back at CJC central I found this very clean SR20DET-powered Datsun 1600 (510). It’s an old chassis/modern repower combo that goes perfectly hand-in-hand don’t you think?

Opposite was this ’80 Toyota Corona which appeared to be rocking its original engine (or one very similar to it), albeit upgraded with a set of four motorcycle carbs. Neat!

For sale in the ‘CJC Jerk Shop’…but not really.

One thing that became apparent as I strolled the 4&Rotary Nationals halls pre-show was the shear number of cool old cars. This segment of New Zealand’s modified car scene definitely seems to be on the up.

The guy behind the event is helping the cause too. Along with a 20B-powered RX-3 coupe, he just got his hands on this tough little 13B turbo-powered street/drag Mazda R100 out of Australia.

This stripped out and ‘caged 2-door Corolla wagon has been on the scene for a while, but it’s still a tough little package centered around a turbo 4A-G.

Big wheels on little old rotaries is an Australian-derived thing, but this R100 pulls off the look well with a set of Work Equips.

On the other hand this rat-styled and rotary-repowered 616 Capella sits perfectly on a set of Australian-made Simmons FRs – another popular wheel upgrade for old school rotaries, especially in their country of origin.

Who wants to see a feature on this immaculate 800hp-at-the-wheels, 8-second, Datsun B110 coupe?

Outside the halls, Mike was showing off his ’83 Chevy Silverado aka BRODZR. The crazy truck was getting a lot of attention…

…as was Taryn from iheartstance‘s super-cool S30 260Z. If you haven’t seen it already, make sure you check out Taryn’s post on showing her car at the event for the first time here.

I think it’s only fitting that I wrap up my coverage from the 2013 ‘V’ 4&Rotary National Show with a few more photos of that ’6B’ RX-4.

Because the crankshafts that make custom three-rotor and four-rotor motor possible are tooled in New Zealand, the local rotary tuning industry has really embraced the technology. In that respect it’s awesome to see the first six-rotor being built by a Kiwi company, and fitted into a street registered car no less.

Whether or not anyone will attempt to go one better by another couple of rotors I’m not sure. Some said this wasn’t possible, so never say never I guess! In the meantime I’m just looking forward to seeing how much power PPRE can extract from this crazy package, and what that will translate to when the RX-4 hits the strip for the first time. On the subject of drag racing, stay tuned for our final wrap-up from the event – day two at the 2013 ‘V’ 4&Rotary Nationals…






Jackson Racing’s Honda CR-Z Supercharger

The grunts and collective groans from Honda loyalists haven’t quieted one bit since the introduction of Honda’s CR-Z hybrid last year. Power starved and all but cursed with an aggressive look that, no matter how you chop it up, harkens back to much more exciting times. A time that included the release of the beloved CRX, a car that would change a soon to be overpopulated hot hatch landscape. But why live in the past, reliving glory days while comparing them to rather dreary current times? It’s because looking toward the past can actually produce some answers for today’s most nagging issues.

Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Jacking Racing Supercharger Kit

Someone who knows more than most of the population when it comes to making power, both then and now, is Oscar Jackson Sr. He’s had his hands in tuning Hondas since well before most of our readers were even born. He’s been doubted more times than he can possibly remember, and somehow he’s always managed to rise above, and convert naysayers into avid believers.

These days he’s once again back in the driver’s seat of Jackson Racing with his son, Oscar Jr., riding shotgun as the two embark on a whole new challenge. No stranger to engine swaps, the Jacksons set out to offer a unique alternative to the complex and often pricey K-series swap in the form of a Rotrex-based supercharger kit. Before you assume the mighty K series’ power output will trample that of a low-boost supercharger kit, you may want to take a look at the results. With the factory catalytic converters (both of them) still intact, and the original Honda exhaust system, the Jackson Racing kit pounds out an additional 50 horsepower, and 45 lb-ft of torque. And rather than having to rev to the moon to find that power, almost all of that torque is realized in the midrange, where the majority of driving takes place.

To find the 40 percent increase in power from the tiny 1.5L, a Rotrex C30-74 unit was utilized. Unlike many other superchargers, the “whine” is nonexistent, as the patented traction drive system in the Rotrex keeps a lid on the noise factor. Oil isn’t borrowed from the engine, instead the supercharger relies on its own dedicated, self-contained oiling system, keeping things neat and simple.

  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Jdpengineering Carbon Fiber Lip
  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Nitto Invo Tire
  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Rotrex C30 74 Unit

If you’re an avid power-hungry enthusiast, gas mileage is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the CR-Z crowd is a bit different, in that they most likely pulled the trigger on the two-seater in hopes of saving some cash at the pump. Adding forced induction isn’t typically conducive to maintaining high miles per gallon, but it’s something that the Jacksons factored into the design of their kit. At cruise speeds, a bypass valve regulates the amount of boost the engine experiences, in turn allowing for factory-like mileage numbers. To add to that, the ability to rely upon the Econ, Normal, and Sport driving modes the CR-Z was originally sold with are still fully functional. This is due in part to the masterminds at Hondata who developed their FlashPro system to open the doors to tuning the CR-Z.

Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Volk Racing CE28 Wheel

The supercharged test vehicle pictured has been through quite a bit during its short life span. Over 20,000 miles of real-world testing, countless dyno sessions, a new Hybrid Class record at Super Lap Battle, and some of the most intense emissions testing known to man. You see, while the performance of the kit is undeniable, the Jacksons spent over eight months trying to acquire emissions certification to make the kit a street-legal affair. The hard work and admittedly frustrating process finally paid off with the kit passing all emissions lab tests and currently awaiting approval from the California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.).

Oscar Sr. has seen it all and done it all, but just about everyone doubted he could pull any usable power out of the CR-Z while remaining within the tight limitations of the government’s emissions requirements. Here’s to proving them wrong…all over again.

Bolts & Washers

Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Jackson Racing Supercharger Kit

Jackson Racing Supercharger kit with Rotrex C30-74 unit
Hondata FlashPro
KW Variant 1 coilovers
Volk Racing CE28 17×8 +33
Nitto Invo 225/45-17
JDPengineering carbon-fiber lip
JDPengineering carbon-fiber wing

The Test Vehicle And Editor’s Impression

Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Jdpengineering Carbon Fiber Lip

The bright red 2011 CR-Z you see pictured was fitted with a JDPengineering front lip and rear wing—you might remember the same carbon-fiber pieces being used on the Honda Tuning Magazine CR-Z project early on. The excellent fitment and a clean, functional appearance make JDP an easy choice for this chassis. To help harness the power, specifically through the turns, a set of KW Variant 1 coilovers were chosen, and a tasteful, functional ride height was set. In dire need of wider wheels and better rubber, a set of 17-inch Volk CE28s wrapped in Nitto Invo tires improve the look, feel, and of course the handling of the CR-Z.

Oscar Jr. handed over the keys to their CR-Z and told me to take the car on the road for some spirited driving. The first thing I noticed is the initial startup is identical to stock. No hesitation, no rough idle; in fact, because of the factory cat and exhaust system, it even sounded like it was stock. I pulled away in Normal mode and, driving conservatively, the car showed zero signs of hiccups or stutters. Switching to Sport mode, I stepped into the gas further and the Rotrex did its job of bringing the car up to “above posted speed limit” in rather short order. The torque seemed to pour on effortlessly, and the added midrange power is exactly what the CR-Z is missing from the factory. While the OEM CR-Z begins to fall on its face around 4,500 rpm, the Jackson Racing version is just getting started. The defined pull through third gear, inching close to 7,000 rpm is a sharp reminder of yesteryear, when VTEC B- and H-series motors left you begging to stomp the gas pedal for another zip to redline. While the factory 1.5 struggles to maintain its momentum up hills and around traffic, the Rotrex-equipped version allows you to avoid stirring the gears, and rather “point and shoot” your way through traffic.

  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Jdpengineering Carbon Fiber Wing
  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger
  • Jackson Racing Honda CR Z Supercharger Hondata Flashpro

The comparison of the Jackson Racing supercharger kit to a K-series swap will undoubtedly come up the moment this article hits newsstands. Though I didn’t have a K-powered CR-Z on hand to test back to back, there are a few things that really stand out to me. The first being the pricing—even the “bells and whistles” version of the Jackson kit is at least half the cost of a K swap. Read that again, because there’s certainly a misconception about the price of a K-series motor swap, complete and ready to roll. As you’re adding it up in your head, don’t forget axles, management, mounts, custom exhaust, etc. The other is the ease of installation and use. There’s no cutting, welding, splicing, or customizing to fit the Jackson Racing supercharger kit—it’s a strictly bolt-on affair and fits like a factory piece. Mileage, power, and OEM fit and finish? This might be the future of tuning.

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