The Machining Man: Why Buy Parts When You Can Make Them

When you grow up around cars, they usually stick with you for life.

Gary Law from The Machining Man in Midrand, South Africa was born in Zimbabwe and got involved in the automotive and motorsport world thanks to his father Gordon, a well-known racing driver back in the day.

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Gordon was also responsible for launching Gary’s racing career when he was just 10 years old, starting in Formula M, which are motorcycle-powered single seaters. Gary helped his dad build, design, race and prepare these cars well into his teens.

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Over many years, Gary won multiple championships and even raced a TVR Chimaera at one point. And when he wasn’t racing, he was in the shop building and tuning cars with his father’s guidance.

Naturally, Gary developed a number of skillsets, including design, fabrication, welding, tuning and engineering. The father and son pair also did their own fiberglass work, painting, milling and turning on the lathe.

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By this point Gary knew he’d be around cars for life, so he embarked on a proper apprenticeship under Dennis Temple, a revered local designer and builder of Formula Ford and Formula GTi cars. Dennis originally studied under Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, so there was no shortage of knowledge to be passed down.

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In 2001, Gary became a qualified automotive machinist, and after subsequently working with a local tuner and doing machining work for Hyundai in their South African factory, he started The Machining Man in 2007.

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Being a machinist and owning a Haas 4-axis CNC machine, Gary has built everything from bushes for a wheelbarrow to aviation parts, weapon components, movie industry props, decorative furniture and everything in-between. Then’s the automotive work…

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As you’ll be able to tell from these pictures, Gary has become a bit of a Nissan Skyline specialist. He loves working on them and previously owned an R33 GT-R which he modified extensively. It was in that car that Gary was infamously caught by a speed camera doing 261km/h on the way to a track meet. Ironically, the event was called Fastest Streetcar.

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I don’t think there are many car enthusiasts that don’t love a Skyline. Am I right?

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This BNR34 was originally built by ‘Smoky’ Nagata at Top Secret in Japan before being imported to South Africa over a decade ago. It was in at Gary’s shop for some TLC.

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This genuine Stagea 260RS Autech is another customer car that Gary is doing some update work on. I would love a wagon like this.

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You might remember this amazing Datsun 280ZX build, that I recently featured. It’s currently being finished off and I hope to see it running soon.

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Designing and manufacturing proprietary parts for GT-Rs is something Gary has a huge interest in. He’s produced everything from intake manifolds to billet main caps for RB26 engines, not to mention building big-power RB30 blocks. One of Gary’s latest tricks is a BMW DCT conversion, which he’s applied to a few GT-R builds and is currently putting behind a Mazda 13B engine. It’s all done in-house, which is pretty cool.

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It’s not all Skylines though. This short-wheelbase Land Cruiser is currently receiving a full drivetrain conversion from a modern version.

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Whether it’s a JDM car, a muscle car or any other custom build, everything is treated to the same attention to detail and workmanship in Gary’s care. I’ll be taking a closer look at this red pickup called Chilli Mouse soon. Gary built this one as tribute to his late father.

This VR6 Turbo was also built by The Machining Man, and will be returning to the shop once the owners have finished the 4WD conversion.

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If you think a normal Mini is fun, how about this one with a Suzuki Hayabusa motor in the rear.

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When it comes to building a dream car, you’re often held back by parts not being available to buy, or even because a specific part for your unique project doesn’t exist. In that respect, shops like The Machining Man are really great, as they allow interesting builds to actually come to fruition. I personally cannot wait to see how some of Gary’s future DCT gearbox conversions turn out.

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia



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A RHD GT-R with a Mazda 13B mated to an BMW M3's DCT? I'd kill for one of those in the US.


A BMW-DCT mated to a Mazda 13B rotary engine? Man that is a build I would want to see! Maybe this is an idea for Rob Dahm


In his IndyCar perhaps?


Considering that the cars we all love so much are at least two decades old at this point, making your own parts is just a good idea.

Especially for any European luxury cars that only like OEM parts.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

God bless South Africa for keeping car culture unique!


Yeah we always do things different here.


A Zimbabwe registered Stagea, nice!


We have loads of Zim registered JDM cars here in South Africa


I'm pretty sure that's the same Top Secret BNR34 that Jade Gutzeit piloted at the 2012 Simola Hillclimb in Knysna.


Just saw the "Desmond Equipment" decal on the side, It's definitely the same one.


Yeah same one. Dezzi sold it a few years ago to a JHB based guy.




Cars were the whole reason I became a machinist, and my background in automotive made me a better machinist. Great article on one of the unsung trades.


Glad you like it, it's definitely an awesome trade!


Beautiful. This is the real Dom Toretto


Haha love this.