New Zealand – expect the unexpected

New Zealand’s obsession with the rotary engine is no secret, and downunder we have some pretty cool cars hiding away in sheds, parked up in little country towns, and even threading the needle down gravel rally stages.  These photos are nothing new (some have been popped up on Facebook here and there), but I came across them again recently and every time I see these pics they bring a smile to my face.

I have spent most of my photography years chasing automotive culture around Japan, and have always loved the old Mazdas but I never thought I would find my automotive nirvana – a RX3 rally car that actually got rallied.

Seems I was wrong.  This local rally not only produced one RX3 but three of them.  Two four door versions and a coupe.

It was a shame I wasn’t further up the road in the stage itself, but then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get a closer look as they waited in time control and hit service so no complaints really…

In a world of rallying where fields heavily consist of modern cars, there is something special about an old RWD chassis screaming at 8 grand while crunching gears sideways on gravel.  It is awesome to see Ken Block recently build two classics as well, his RS200 and Escort Cosworth.  Rallying misses the older analog cars on the stages.

New Zealand is still so big on classic rallying that a full two-day rally is held in Otago each year consisting of primarily classic RWD rally cars from the 70s’ and later.  Getting to stand on a flowing country road and hear fields of BDA Escorts, Datsuns, V8s, and rotaries is something that everyone needs to experience.  Ron Zaras & Ken Block, time to put that Escort in a container for the 2019 Rally Otago!

The quick refuelling stop was likely my quickest ever photoshoot, yet the pictures are some of my favourites for reasons other than composition, and technical reasons.  This photo above is likely my favourite of the lot, a classic sought after car, covered in mud with a big dent in the rear from getting too close the scenery. It doesn’t get any cooler than that in my opinion.  It is refreshing to see that some of these cars are still taken out of the shed and driven at ten tenths.  After all this is a legendary era in rallying that many don’t have the chance to witness now except via YouTube.

Spotting these three cars was a nice reminder that it isn’t just the big events that produce ‘wow factor’, sometimes tucked away in the middle of nowhere, that little club event you never bothered to attend can throw up surprises too.  It reminded me of one thing at least, I need to shoot more rallying!


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