Tradition Be Damned:</br> The Ultimate Street Mazda RX-3

Strolling through the paddock at Powercruise Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I was completely and utterly overstimulated: lumpy V8s making the earth shake, screamer pipes rattling my ear drums, paint jobs bright enough to cause permanent retina damage.

But when so many cars try to stand out, it’s funny what actually ends up catching your attention…


At the hands of its owner, Vez, this Mazda RX-3 has recently been reborn into the form you see today. In its past life the old school four-door was candy red, rode on polished FR Simmons and featured a tan/snakeskin interior – in other words a poster-child for Australian street rotary style of the ’90s and ’00s. While taste is debatable, 8.9-second quarter mile ability (for a street car, 10 years ago!) isn’t. The Mazda also had quite the reputation as a street racer, apparently…


Vez has owned rotaries since the age of 16 (and currently has three very different RX-3s), so he was prepared to challenge the status quo with this build. Candy red gave way to a custom hue based on Mercedes Diamond White Pearl and all the chrome was removed and refinished in ‘black chrome’.


Inside, the front seats were replaced with Recaro buckets, while the interior surfaces have been treated to Lamborghini-inspired diamond stitch Alcantara – even the roll cage was covered. The B&M shifter is currently hooked up to a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, a popular choice for dedicated drag cars.


Behind the suede-trimmed Momo wheel sits an original Savanna dash which Vez sourced to replace the fiberglass unit that came fitted when he bought the car. Keeping him dialed into the engine’s vitals is a Haltech IQ3 digital display, which is fed info via the latest Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 engine management system. Some might cringe at the thought of cutting up a stock Savanna dash, but the final result is an interior befitting of a high-end European sportscar.


Under the bonnet sits a turbocharged 20B built by Joe Signorelli at RotorMaster, again treated to a stealth black finish. At the time of the shoot the car was making 440whp on a mere 9-10psi. After resolving some issues with the transmission and raising the boost pressure, this should increase to in excess of 700hp at the wheels.


Keeping the triple-rotor fueled is a custom 80L cell featuring an in-built surge tank and pumps. As is becoming increasingly popular in Australia, the RX-3 runs on E85, but to preserve street sensibilities an EFLEX system reconfigures the tune on-the-fly if standard premium fuel is used.


It’s almost mandatory in the Australian rotary scene that any car making big power would be wearing Simmons 3-piece wheels – and THE LAW is no exception. However, the stealth theme has been carried over, and in my opinion the combination of black chrome dish with jet black centres nails the brief of ‘understated aggression’. Wilwood brakes have been installed front and rear.


To me THE LAW represents a new approach to tough rotary builds, where each element works together to create balance and wholeness, as opposed to individually shouting for attention.


While he’s certainly won me over, Vez knows well that it’s simply impossible to impress everyone – especially when modifying a classic like the RX-3. However, there’s no doubting that this little tyre-shredding package will keep a smile on his – and any passenger’s faces – for the foreseeable future.

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones



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so sick of seeing simmons. It's just the mark of a douche, now imo.

the rest of the car tho....oh my god a triple rotor!! BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP


Mad mike would be proud! XD


Yea simmonson 90% of old Skool rx here.. Far to played in my opinion. Even the semi tubbed look is old. Apart from that the interior and exterior look really nice and it's good to see a rx in a normal shade instead of over the top colours.


I would love to see these Aussie rotors wearing old school, small diameter wheels such as Watanabe's etc. The Aussie's and Kiwi's do know how to built a killer rotary though...


*heavy breathing*


simmons looks very nice imho, 5 star is timeless, but why aussies putting 18" or 19" (or moar: with witestripe tires O_o )?


Great feature! Kinda getting bored of seeing these rims though, they seem to be just as popular (and somewhat overused) down under as AR torque thrusts are in the US




"In its past life the old school four-door was candy red, rode on polished FR Simmons and featured a tan/snakeskin interior" This car still exists and is it not also owned by Vez(UNTAMD?).....this car was always white, or at least the old THELAW was a white sedan.

While I love everything about it with the black and white theme with no chrome......I just hate that this blacked out Simmons, blacked out engine bay thing is already so played out in the Mazda scene it's not even funny! Perhaps a slight skew on this might have helped set it apart....just my opinion of course and I guess then it wouldn't quite be in full theme, so I get it.


the_escape_road They wouldn't have the same impact for this style.....but there are PLENTY of Mazda's in Aus/NZ on small diameter wheels....but big Simmons do rule unfortunately.


dovvv The mark of the black sheep even moreso. I honestly can't believe how many people are doing the all black FR thing. Once I'd seen it 4 or 5 times, even if I wanted it as badly as I want a billion dollars I wouldn't do it, because it's already been done by enough people(let alone the 30 or 40 that have now done it, in the Mazda scene alone!). I'd rethink and come up with something else.

However as I said in the Powercruise post, no one seems to hate on the Japanese for almost exclusively running Japanese wheels on their cars, why do we hate on Aussies for running Aussie wheels? Not as much choice from decent Aussie brands, but it's good to see they're supporting local.


boohoo "...simmons. It's just the mark of a sheep..." - a good wheel is a good wheel and simmons are one of the best out there that suit majority of car shapes and styles (especially in Australia) therefore used so often. Not only that being a 3-piece wheel allows a heap of options with widths, dishes and offsets

I'm not going to do that because everyone else does is a rubbish attitude - people who do things differently just to be different is the silly thing if you ask me...and I wonder if you are growing a beard, wear designer flannelette's and/or have a sleeve tattoo just to be different and no-ones else looks like that...


No doubt they a nice rim but they not the only rim that suits the older rx models and me personally I wouldn't run a design that is common. I have no idea I prefer a 14-15 with big rubber on older cars. I think a lot of people here still go for shock factor and it's crazy to see such big wheels on a little car.


Gary89 "Played out" or simply iconic? I'd be going for the latter! They're an integral and timeless identifier of the Australian rotary scene, much like the older rotaries here in NZ are indelibly linked with modgies, hotwires and the like... embrace it! I used to hate it, but now I've opened my mind and come to realise hey, this is what makes us unique it has completely changed my perception.


I see where you coming from man and to the rest of the world most people would go "sick" love that Aus style and it is cool and unique to our country no doubt. All I'm saying is after going to a heep of Aussy car shows, events, meets etc this look does lose its shock factor and become watered down. It's kinda like having an aussy BBQ everyday, it's nice but sooner or later you are going to want to try something different. I want to see Aussies push the envelope and start doing something completely unique to this country, not run the same concept but in slightly different forms as we see all the time. It's a beautiful car, but I have seen many like this and would like to see more of this...


Spaghetti Close... the old white THELAW became the candy red car you speak of, currently wearing the plates UNTAMD and this car is Ivan Skaramuca's old pink street car. ;)


Spaghetti dovvv We don't so much hate on Aussies for running Aussie wheels as people just get a bit tired of seeing the same thing time and time again. I think it's made worse with the fact they're often 18,19 and 20 inch wheels which look way out of place on such small cars, they only came out of the factory with 13 and 14's. It's true there isn't a big choice for someone wanting to run a locally made wheel on an older RX but give me something like V4's, Hotwires, Rebels or old school Jap wheels over the current fashionable look any day. 
Anyway, it's still a cool little car that would scare the shit out of most people :)


@jettec03 Spaghetti Correct this is Ivans old pink street car


Spaghetti And as for the whole blacked out bay and wheels Hopefully it does pass.
But people arent willing to take the plunge into the unknown these days.
They see something that works and stick to it. Even if its played out.

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

These aren't the original wheels Simmons brought out years ago. 1980's sydney would've been 15", on anything other than mazdas. These are proper Simmons, not the abominations thats sold today at 19"-20" in VL Commodore or RX3 stud pattern. Rant done.


@jettec03  I did read it was Ivan's old flamed pink streeter, but then I thought I read again that it was still around or being rebuilt by Ivan. Either way, this isn't the candy red car, as it's still as is(apart from a tidy up) and has been to Perth and back, right?


I know, and I don't get it, the unknown doesn't have to be something crazy and off the charts, be tasteful in your difference and it'll work out. The thing with the blacked out Simmons craze is that it literally suits 1 in 10 cars, as an example if your car is turquoise, with a tan interior, white side stripes and all the chrome in place, then all black wheels do not suit! Just my opinion of course.

I don't hate the blacked out bay thing(i'm just sick of seeing it), maybe add a little colour somewhere so it doesn't just look like you masked the engine bay up and hit everything else with a can of Export gloss black. Or play with textures, some matt, some satin, some gloss, some wrinkle, some black chrome even and get a balance of difference like that. I get that it's far easier to maintain than polished, which is also overdone, but more timeless, but it's just boring now seeing black black black.


Gary89 That splitter wouldn't last 1.5 seconds on our roads, have you been to Japan(?), it's literally like driving on glass over there, no comparison. While I agree with you 100% that I'd love to see some done like this, it's not a reality anymore unfortunately as the people with the money who can now afford to buy/modify/build these cars are either steadfast in the Aussie style/way to impress mates/the internet, and then easily be able to sell to the next guy that wants that style. That or they're wanting a factory style resto to preserve value and add $$$! Chopping up even an 808 to do this style won't happen now as they command big dollars. It's sad, because if I had the money(and if I liked RX3 coupes), this is exactly what I'd do!


Spaghetti All good. Yeah, it is a little confusing as this car went from Ivan's pink/flamed scheme to candy red with snakeskin interior (ex BLODIS trim) - as referred to at the top of this article - and then the latest reincarnation is the white/blacked out scheme here. Vez' other car is the white 'original' THELAW which was over in W.A. for a while - it wears the UNTAMD plates. As for Ivan's car that's still around, maybe referring to his drag 3? Ever since NZ it's been in hiding, down in Melbourne I believe... not 100% on those details though.


Spaghetti I totally understand where you are coming from. There are so many colours available in powder coating yet they seam to just stick to the typical Black and Grey. We do wrinkle finish but as you said it gets played out through out the whole engine bay without too much contrast from anything else.
A car we finished a couple weeks a go for Power Cruise. Hard to tell in the photos but it is wrinkled.


@jettec03 Right, so candy red UNTAMD is still the same car it's always been, after being the original white THELAW which was previously Vez' brothers(right?) This car was the pink/flamed streeter that Ivan had, and then went candy red(what plates?), and is now back to white as the current THELAW. Confusing!


scibO Looks great, but then it's all wrinkled, and still just all black, but at least it's a little different. A mix of finishes in black would look great I reckon as I suggested. Then maybe throw in some of those meaty pink/purple intercooler pipe clamps for a touch of colour.


Spaghetti I think the plates were BJL80A (not personalised).. pretty much the only pics I've seen are those posted by scibO on the ausrotary forum. It was as the car appeared at Summernats 2010.