Even the best relationships feature some degree of compromise, so if your significant other actually enjoys the same things you do, especially ripping smokey burners, chances are you found a keeper. Let us introduce you then, DLM faithful, to Tramayne Rauhihi and Michelle Dent, New Zealand’s first couple of skids. Their engagement was not drift at first sight, however, so feint a backie with us as we start with Tramayne’s intro to the sideways life and a look at his car.
Tramayne has been a car guy since he can remember, having owned 40+ including ‘nana mobiles’ and all-out track machines. He first experienced drifting at local races when he lived in New Plymouth, and fate smiled upon him twice when he also met Michelle. Tramayne tells us the NZ drift community is close-knit, and everyone shows love from small local meets to organized track days. That camaraderie plays importantly into Team Spirit, Tramayne’s squad with his homie Jai.
While the missile car is alive and well in the States, Kiwis take much more pride in the style of their drift cars. Tramayne says most people’s drift cars are far nicer than their dailies, and that effort is how he came to meet Jai. Tramayne asked Jai to design a unique itasha livery for the Laurel, and the two decided to form a team based on their distinctive, individual approaches to drifting. Jai prefers his S13 on 15s with factory aero, while Tramayne’s C33 rolls on 18s with an aggressive body kit.
Given New Zealand’s proximity to the Motherland and relative abundance of local JDM sleds, a Laurel might not seem the logical pick of the litter. But a C33 was Tramayne’s first drift car, and several Cefiros and Skylines later, he has not found its equal. His current Laurel features an RB30 block with an RB25 head spooling a Holset HX40 turbo on a twin-scroll manifold regulated by twin Turbosmart 38mm wastegates. A 4” downpipe flows into a 3” exhaust.
On the cold side of the equation, 3” charge piping feeds into an OEM GT-R intercooler, a Q45 throttle body and a GReddy intake plenum. Fueling is handled by a 7.0-liter surge tank, twin Bosch 044 pumps, and 1,000cc Bosch injectors. A Haltech 750 ECU conducts Splitfire ignition coils to the tune of 408 wkw (547 whp for our imperial readers) at 20 psi on E85. Power reaches the ground via an Xtreme twin-disc clutch, RB25DET gearbox and a factory welded differential.
Footwork consists of 18×9” and 18×10” Work Meisters bound by OEM 4-pot calipers up front, dual 2-pots out back and a Parts Shop MAX handbrake. PSM knuckles and caster arms provide angle, with Luxury Sports toe, camber and traction rods and BC Racing coilovers rounding out the mix. Thanks to a now-infamous appearance on the news for street drifting, Tramayne’s buddy Blake at Cany Customs resprayed the Laurel and Jai designed a new itasha theme to change (read: disguise) the look of the car.
While Michelle may not have been so stoked on her fiance’s notoriety, she was keen on joining him for all those hours spent in the garage. 10 years and many drift cars later, she got bored of spectating and wanted her own project. Tramayne and Michelle looked for a car that had not yet been done in New Zealand. A tall order indeed, but they eventually settled on a Toyota JZX110 with a factory 1JZ. Given the state of the Laurel, you might think the Mark II is not stock either, and you would be right.
Michelle plans to eventually convert to three pedals with an R154, but for now, her JZX skids just fine with the auto box. Her Mark II is quite a looker, however, featuring a full aero ensemble from BN Sports fitted once again by Cany Customs and repainted gloss black with pink pearl and holographic glitter. Visual impact is completed with 18×9” and 18×10” Work Meisters in black with gold hardware resting on BC racing coilovers. Basic bolt-ons offer some go with the show.
Though the New Zealand crowd may have a penchant for better-sorted cars than us Yanks, Tramayne tells us it is much more difficult to get and keep them on the road. The aforementioned TV spotlight withstanding, the Kiwi fuzz (pun intended) are notoriously harsh and issue correctional citations without hesitation. No matter though, Tramayne is resolute to keep his and Michelle’s automotive relationship as loving as their personal one, from driver’s license to marriage license!