Steve started racing back in 1979 building
a HA Viva with a 3.5 litre Oldsmobile V8 with a close
ratio Muncie gearbox and 5 coil suspension. He raced
at the Mystery Creek Hamilton Rallycross series against
approx 100 cars and won 2 NZ Titles and 2 North Island
Titles during the early 1980s.
He then helped Don Hickman convert his V8 Avenger to
4 wheel drive and double drove with Don for a
The next project was the Hickman V8 Starion double driving
with Don in Rallysprints and Hillclimbs, gradually improving
the handling and reliability and in the end fitting
the 600hp 377 Chevy motor from the Racing Power Boat
E.I.T. Mover. The late Kim Austin made this car famous
by winning 3 Ashley Forest Rallysprints and still holds
This prompted me to want to design and build something
different which was the V8 Cordia which took 6 years
to build. My son Clint and I have won various sprints
and hill climbs. Clint competed in the Goldrush Hillclimb
at Queenstown 3 years ago. At the end of the first day
he had the 4th fastest time for cars and
8th overall with plans to pull out all the
stops on the last day as the car was running really
At the start of the day the car was only running on
7 cylinders with no obvious reasons, resulting in slower
times and major engine damage, but still achieving
2nd in the Unlimited Cars behind Rod Millen.
Once home and on further inspection we found that the
terminals had been ripped off 2 of the spark plug
leads and the rubber boots placed back on the leads
which could only have been done by some asshole during
Last year we competed at the Ashley Forest Rallysprint
in Christchurch, Steve was 4th and
Clint Finished 6th in the same car.
We believed we could do better this year so decided
to get serious and made changes to the car to suit this
event and thanks to some generous sponsorship we were
able to compete again this time with Steve winning the
title. Unfortunately Clint was unable to drive due to
a broken leg otherwise it may have been both of us on
the podium. What a trophy to win with names like Possum
Bourne, Rod Millen, Kim Austin, Neal Allport and Trevor
Crowe etched on the side. Sadly this may have
been the last time this Rallysprint was held at
Ashley Forest due to redevelopment of this part of the
The Mitsubishi Cordia 4 Wheel Drive V8
is fitted with a rear
engined 377 Chev V8 (570hp) turned 180Ί. The gearbox
is a 4 speed close ratio dog-box (same as the V8 touring
cars). Front transfer case is homemade and
is fitted with 2 gears from a Kenworth gearbox
along with a 5 treble clutch to disengage the front
drive when hand brake is applied. The rear transfer
case is a chain drive Pajero unit cut in half and bolted
to the rear Diff to enable the driveshaft to pass beside
the engine. Diffs are modified Pajero plate type LSD
units adapted into Mitzi GTO housings.
We have also designed and fitted an air operated
weight jacking device to enable quicker acceleration
out of corners and both rams can be operated off
the start line for quicker start times.
We have 3 different size sway bars for the rear and
only fit a front bar for sealed competitions.
We run Dunlop Tyres and Bilstein shocks.
We run the Cordia last year at Ashley forest but the
set up wasnt quite right so we changed a few things
to suit the track. First of all the Front Mitzy GTO
viscous Diff wasnt doing its thing so we modified a
Pagero LSD into the housing. Likewise to the rear
Diff (the original rear Diff was locked) this made the
car change direction a lot quicker, also a lot easier
to handle. The second change was the Diff ratio.
Last year the engine was revving to 8000 revs going
up and down the hill so the ratio change made the engine
use its torque and reduce wheel spin. Change number
3 was to soften up the car by changing the valving in
the Bilstein shocks which absorbed the bumps and hence
more traction. The front to rear weight bias is
50/50 achieved by fitting the heavy Chevy forward of
the rear axle and just behind the driver. The
large Aluminium radiator, fuel tank and the battery
are mounted up front. On some tracks we run a full underbelly
sump guard with a defuser mounted at the rear fitted
at the correct angle. This device helps to suck
the car down to the road and also causes less drag.
One of the most talked about accessory is our home made
Tyre Warmer which is an aluminium box large enough
to fit 4 tyres which sit on a bar which is rotated
by a wiper motor while being heated with 2 industrial
gas heaters. A Kiwi invention which really does
work in being able to use warm tyres right from the
start line, especially valuable in the shorter events.
My co-driver for Ashley was Richard Legae who built
Marty Rostenburgs Evo 3 and was also one of the main
men who built the Don Hickman Kim Austin V8 Starion.
Richard is employed by the AA and is their expert in
fuel injection and electronic ignition etc, so his experience
and expertise is invaluable.
Steve would especially like to thank his sons Clint
and Dan and the 9 other keen pit crew members who gave
up their time to keep the car in top form for the weekend.
Most people dont realize the work and money involved
keeping the car in top running order. What a buzz to
win the Ashley Forest Rallysprint.
Thanks to my sponsors, your support is important to
keeping the car competitive and hopefully they will
benefit from their involvement in Motorsport.