Covers come off Mad Mike's rebuilt workhorse
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Mad Mike's original whip gets a home-grown revamp
There is a lot to process here.
Just think about what we're looking at for a second. This is a car that was once a cult hero among New Zealand backstreets, ratty and distasteful to anyone siding with the so-called ‘establishment’. Its driver too was a bit rough around the edges, formerly an arborist.
Now both are adorning lap-top wall papers and poster-lined bedroom walls all over the world. Both have factory support from Mazda as well as one of the biggest companies in world sport — Red Bull. Both have bridged the gaping chasm that separates hometown hero to international superstar.
This, of course, is one of ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett's Mazda RX-7s. In fact, it's one of the special ones — ‘MADBUL’.
Those knowledgeable with Whiddett's fleet of drift monsters will know that MADBUL is older than time itself. Under its former guise, ‘FURSTY’, it was the car that helped him rise through New Zealand's grass-roots scene to national success, and then international success with appearances overseas.
“It was my first time ever in America and we had MADBUL there which had just been built,” explains Whiddett. “It was a little threatening, it’s a big country and there’s all these massive teams, there’s Ford racing, Mopar and just American muscle and we’ve got this little Japanese rice cooker rotary that’s screaming, but the fans just loved it.
“I have a personal connection to this car, it’s #1.The car now has got so much history, it’s got more stamps in it’s passport than most humans and its traveled the world numerous times now.”
And now, in what is its seventh generation, MADBUL looks more radical than ever. It now wears a Pandem RX-3–looking nose, giving it the front-on appearance of an old-school Group C touring car. Complete with period correct fender mirrors and old-timey decals (“Ma Bro” on the rear fender flare is a stroke of genius).
But then from the rear, with the familiar lines of the RX-7 FD taillights and the aggressive diffuser section, you get a different picture again. The whole thing, topped with a retro paint scheme, ties in near seamlessly to create one of his best looking machines.
And it's not sitting in a Tokyo car show or an underground American hard park. It's here in New Zealand, primed and ready for next weekend's 4 & Rotary Nationals at the ASB Showgrounds, as well as Mad Mike's own drift event — the Summer Bash at Hampton Downs scheduled two weeks later.
Whiddett's yet to reveal his plans for 2017, though it's understood that a return to Formula Drift in America is unlikely. Whatever those plans might be, we hope they include yet more globetrotting adventures with his trusty sidekick; MADBUL.