ROTORS are a love-’em-or-hate-’em deal, but who could deny the boundless appeal of John Saad’s mind-alteringly beaut Mazda RX-3?

Come presentation time in the Summernats 29 Elite Hall, a clear winner emerged, and John’s Mazda was it. With a Top 10 finish and trophies for Top Undercarriage/Driveline, Top Engine Bay, Top Interior, Top Special Effects Paint, Top Pro Street, and 3rd Top Bodywork to boot, FATRX3 won just about every award it was eligible for. It also claimed the biggest gong on offer in the Elite Hall – Top Judged Elite – for the second year running.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling!” John said. “To win six trophies plus go back-to-back with Top Judged Elite is amazing. All I’ve really done to the car since last year was change the wheels, but even so there’s been plenty of work involved in getting it to Summernats. Without Danny from Custom Bodyworks, Chris, Michael, George, Rob, PJ and everyone else, I just couldn’t have got it done.”

Bob and Priscilla Gallo’s rides also figured strongly in the results, with their XC Falcon coupe and ’34 Ford both finishing in the Top 10 and earning a swag of dust collectors between them.

Established players aside, the hall was also awash with brand-spanking-new metal. Eight new cars were unveiled and represented the full spectrum of the scene: insanely neat street cars and show cars; a mental blown, injected skid car; a wild 60s custom; and a seven-second Sport Compact drag car.

The first of the unveiled rides, Grant Connor’s shaved, smoothed and stunning XR Falcon set the bar high. Built by Knight’s Garage, the car sports HOK candy paint, a tough 393ci Clevo, 22-inch Simmons rims and a sweet custom leather interior.

Mario Attard’s VH HDT Group 3 replica followed suit with its clinically clean engine bay and stout Group A twin throttlebody-injected Holden V8. Rolling on periodinspired 17-inch Simmons wheels, it was pieced together by Commodore specialists Lowe Fabrications.

Next came Glenn Southern’s ‘Supernatural’ ’66 Impala. The


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2nd Top Engine Bay Meguiar’s Show Car Superstars

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Top Exhibition Meguiar’s Show Car Superstars

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Top Custom Interior (Fabrication) 3rd Top Special Effects Paint Top Minitruck Meguiar’s Show Car Superstars

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2nd Top Undercarriage/Driveline 3rd Top Engine Bay 2nd Top Bodywork 2nd Top Interior 3rd Top Standard Paint Outstanding Engineered Pro Touring Top Pro Touring

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3rd Top Undercarriage/Driveline 2nd Top Special Effects Paint Top Closed Hot Rod Meguiar’s Show Car Superstars

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Top Bodywork Top Standard Paint Top Pro Custom

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Top Convertible

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Top Coupe

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factory right-hand-drive, Aussie-assembled Chev is propelled by a Dart-blocked, Brodix-headed 540ci big-block, and the 18-inch Rallye wheels are just plain cool.

Steve Chaplin was stoked to rip the sheets off his ANGRY3 Mazda RX-3 coupe following a marathon 11-year build. The Series 6 13B engine is force-fed by a Garrett GT4508 snail, and while the car has all the hardware required to get down the quarter in no time flat, its show credentials are plainly evident.

Following on from Steve’s Mazda, another rotary-powered rocket was uncovered. Shane Bugeja’s Datsun 1200 coupe was originally built in Puerto Rico and was at one time the world’s quickest Datsun with a previous PB of 7.23@191mph. Not only has the car been re-shelled and treated to a ground-up rotisserie rebuild, but it now much more closely resembles a street car, with all the fibreglass replaced with factory steel panels.

Then came Joel Lambert’s HG Monaro. The car was a 186ci GTS from the dealer, but it’s now sporting a whole lot more cubes with a 900hp nitrous-assisted big-block. It too was a lengthy build, with Joel having owned the car for 17 years without driving it prior to Summernats. With flawless paint and raceready Weld wheels, it’s as neat as it is tough.

On the subject of tough Holdens, Craig Craft’s HJ ute was a hit with the burnout set. Pieced together by well-known skid fiend Phil Kerjean, the blown and injected Chev-powered beast is indicative of the current trend of building show-quality skid rigs.

The Sandman livery is a killer finishing touch.

The final unveil car was something we’re a little less used to seeing at Summernats – a ’62 Pontiac Laurentian. Built by local Canberra workshop Real Steel, it runs a supercharged LSX mill and sports more body and chassis mods than you can poke a grinder at.

The increasing trend throughout the hall is that entrants are moving away from building dedicated show cars in favour of registrable or otherwise useable rides. The vast majority of Top 60 cars were built for a purpose, be it frying tyres, racking up street miles, or getting down the quarter-mile as quickly as mechanically possible. If that means street machiners are extracting more enjoyment from their projects, it can’t be a bad thing. Cars are meant to be driven, after all!