This stunning Mazda RX-3 is the conclusion to a story that began 20 years ago and a fitting tribute to a lost loved one…
Losing a loved one can be devastating. Especially when it’s a sibling, and even more so when they pass on well before their years. How does a person deal with such a loss? How can anything positive hope to come from that? 34-year-old Sydneysider John Tadros was faced with such a tragedy in the very early stages of the new Millennium when he lost his brother, Peter. They were clearly very close, having previously bought a car that they planned to rebuild together. As it turns out, this is that very same car. “We bought the car in 1998 as a project,” John says. “We owned the car for about a year before selling it due to nagging from our parents. Two years later my brother passed away.”
Then in 2008, something happened that would get the more spiritual among us claiming that ‘the hand of fate’ stepped in. “I ran into the new owner,” John says. “Within a few days I was reunited with the car.”
John wasn’t about to let this second chance slip away, but he wasn’t about to rush in without a solid game plan either.
“From the beginning of this project, the main objective was to make the RX-3 stand out without the need for mini-tubs, a roll cage or 26-inch wheels. I wanted to keep it as clean as possible.”
John teamed up with Mick and Maroun from Race Solutions and John says the pair was with him every step of the way. “We kept throwing ideas back and forth and maybe did a few things more than once (like that wild dashboard which was re-done six times before John was happy),” he says. “Mick got cutting away at the existing sheet metal, installing the flat firewall, a bigger trans’ tunnel and flat boot floor while Maroun sourced a clean Series-6 13B.”
John says he’s always been a big fan of the ‘chrome look’, so every nut and bolt was stripped from the car and plated (or re-plated). While it was down to its undies, the shell was sent off to 2SUS Customs where it was smoothed out and lathered in a custom gunmetal metallic. “It sat for a good 12 months before I picked a colour,” John admits. “I couldn’t decide what colour to go with, as by then everything in the spectrum had been matched to an RX-3 – they’re pretty popular here. When I finally decided on grey the guys soon worked their magic.”
With the shell finally painted, it was shipped back to Race Solutions where the guys could start filling it with some power. This started with the rebuilt series-6 13B bridgeport that was fully prepped and fettled to cope with the boost that John had in mind. A Garrett T51R is currently shoving 18psi into the ported factory throttle and intake and John says he’s pretty satisfied with the 480rwhp it’s making, given that the main aim was to build a “nice clean cruiser”.
The 13B is backed by a Supra 5-speed box and a full-house sheet metal 9-inch rear end that houses 31-spline axles, and steep 4.8:1 gears.
“Once all the hardware started going in, I got a little worried about what kind of interior was going to work with how it was all starting to look,” John says. “I met up with Mark at Black Needle and once he saw the car and knew what I was after, he immediately started coming up with bags and bags of crazy of ideas.
“At the time I had a C62 Merc and asked Mark if we could put the technology of that car into the RX-3. He just laughed and said, “Why not!?” I was then introduced to a guy called Nosh, who, as far as I can tell, has never said no to anything in his life.”
Nosh got to work handling all the wiring in the car – a task that must have taken a while, given that the RX-3 now boasts electric windows, central locking a decent stereo and keyless start. At the end of the electrical and upholstery process, some 450 hours had been consumed… and probably just as many cows.
There’s no other way to view the completed cabin of John’s RX-3 than a work of automotive art. Moss green Scottish leather covers everything, and by everything, we mean the bulbous custom dash and hand- formed fibreglass rear buckets, as well as those matching CNC-machined alloy front buckets, false floor panels and custom centre console. Like we said, everything.
Oh, then there are the custom door trims and roof lining. That’s before you start noticing smaller details like the hand-made alloy dress trims around the shifter and speaker openings. It’s extensive and endlessly impressive.
“I really wanted to add something to the car to show dedication to my brother,” he says. “After a lot of thought and discussion I thought some custom scuff plates would be the perfect touch. An engineer I work with, Stuart Chapple, was happy to take on the milling job. These were then engraved, chromed and fitted.”
“I think the best part of the build for me was finally driving the car to the cemetery to show my brother. I think he would be proud of how it all came out in the end. It’s probably not what he was thinking of back in 1998, but I’m sure it suits our time today.” We couldn’t have said it better!
Tech Spec: Mazda RX-3
Series-6 13B, bridgeported, dowelled, studded and clearanced bottom end, electric water pump, SPAL 16in fan, Mazda sump, custom alloy radiator, custom alloy breathers, 100A alternator, series 6 intake, ported throttle, Garrett T51R turbo (18psi), Turbosmart Pro-Gate 50, Turbosmart BOV, custom front-mount intercooler and intake piping, Mazda crank sensor, LS1 coils, Haltech SP1000 ECU, Turbosmart regulator, custom surge tank, custom alloy fuel tank, custom 3/8 and 1⁄2-inch hard fuel lines, Bosch 044 pump, 1000cc injectors, custom alloy catch can and overflow tanks, custom fuel rails, custom turbo manifold, custom 3-inch system, 2x Flowtech Silencer mufflers, W58 Supra 5-speed gerbox, solid brass 5-puck single-plate clutch, custom sheet- metal 9-inch diff housing, Ford 9-inch centre, 4.8:1 final drive, 31-spline axles.
Simmons FR18 (7-inch front, 8.5-inch rear) wheels, Falken 205/35 and 235/35 tyres, (f) 300mm rotors, Wilwood 4-piston calipers (r) 280mm rotors, Wilwood 2-piston calipers, Ferrodo pads, Wilwood pedal box, hidden Wilwood master cylinder, stainless hardline, braided stainless lines to calipers, custom tubular front end w/Koni shocks and King springs, Koni rear shocks, custom rear transmission tunnel and flat boot floor
All front chrome recoated, painted PPG custom gunmetal grey
Custom moss green Muirhead Scottish leather, custom fibreglass rear buckets, CNC machined alloy front buckets, Autometer gauges, custom centre console, custom dash and door trims, billet steering wheel, false floors, Alpine ILX-007E CarPlay source unit, Alpine 5-channel power amp’, 4in front Alpine speakers, 10in Type-R Alpine sub, push-button start, keyless entry, power windows, central locking, electric boot release, hand-made shifter surround and speaker rings, billet door pulls, custom door sill covers
“Race Solutions, 2SUS Customs, Black Needle Automotive Upholstery, Restore Maz, Nosh (electrical work) and my gorgeous wife for putting up with all the long hours I put into it.”
Feature taken from Retro Cars magazine. Words and Photos: Ben Hosking.