Ontario’s Duncan Wood feeds the addiction of Mazda rotary fanatics around the world
Duncan Wood is one of those larger-than-life Australian blokes and, through life’s beautiful accidents, he’s ended up in the Canadian countryside with his young family and a pretty cool business. Many moons ago, Wood met the woman who would become wife while she was on vacation in Australia and the couple bounced between The Great White North and Down Under for a few years until settling down outside of Guelph, Ontario, in 2018. Today, he’s carved out a unique niche for himself in the Mazda rotary parts market.
If you spot his LS4EVER vanity plate on his 323, not to worry—there’s a Mazda rotary under the hood. The plate harkens back to one of Wood’s earlier Canadian vehicles, a Cadillac CTS-V. He’s a proper petrolhead and a bit of a wheeler-dealer, so he’s naturally turned his love of cars into a going concern. Knowing a few Aussies, I’m not surprised Wood drove one of the wildest Cadillacs one could buy, but his love of Mazdas is surprising.
“Growing up in Australia, I could never afford Mazda rotaries and when I was at the age where I was into cars, I was always into Holdens,” Wood recalls. “So I was always building Holdens, Toranas, Monaros, all sorts of stuff like that. I could never afford a Mazda. I couldn’t afford an RX-3. I always liked the RX-3 and everybody wanted an RX-3. I loved the R100, but I never saw them because they’re all so valuable and hidden in people’s collections.
“The first time I came to Canada, I didn’t do anything with cars. I had a four-year break and I just came to Canada, worked, played sport, but this time around, I decided to do something that I’ve never done before, which is Mazdas and I’m trying to do it as big as I can.”
By the time Wood put down roots in Canada, he already knew that in countries like Australia and New Zealand, Mazda rotaries are owned by rabid enthusiasts, a passionate following which has forced parts prices higher. At the same time, Wood also noticed that there were no Mazda rotary parts specialists in the area, so he began buying up cars and parts. Thanks to our digitally connected world, it’s easy to reach anyone around the globe looking for rotary bits and pieces. If you’ve ever perused a Mazda RX-7 group on Facebook, you’ve probably crossed paths with Wood. He buys cars and parts from across Canada, as far as Alberta and Quebec, but selling those parts has become a global business.
“It’s been fantastic for me because you can post anything on all these Facebook rotary pages. I can post stuff online on the Canada Rotary page and all these people from around the world can all be a part of that page, which is great because people see it, they share it, they send it to other people. They can take screenshots of it. They can post it to anyone they want. It’s worldwide and at the fingertips of everybody.”
Wood’s AusCan Industries supplies Mazda rotary enthusiasts with specialty parts anywhere on the planet. “I’ve literally just used Canada Post to send parts around the world, so as long as the item meets the weight and size requirements for each country, it’s no problem,” he says.
“It does become a problem when you go overseas or overweight, so what I’ve been doing is getting a Canadian company to build me shipping crates and I’ve been sending crates to countries around the world. The last one just went to New Zealand and it was full of all engines, gearboxes, and diffs. All heavy stuff and the guys in New Zealand, they’re going to enjoy all that stuff. I love it when people get their parts and they fix their cars. It’s rewarding for me.”
I learned of Wood’s business from my crazy racing pal, Russ Bond, who met Wood through his race-car fabricator, Mike Westwood. Bond wanted to build an RX-3 racer without sacrificing another authentic Mazda to motorsport and Westwood knew of Wood’s specialty Mazda business. Serendipitously, Wood had a full set of RX-3 body panels lying about. Westwood looked at the lot, knew he could make it work, and that turned the pieces into the eardrum-splitting “Fahren” RX-3 that Bond races across Ontario and Quebec.
When I asked Wood about what’s popular in rotaries at the moment, it seems to be everything second- and third-generation RX-7, which makes perfect sense. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate RX-7s when I was grown up because, like most of us, I pored over Mazda sports car tests in ’80s- and ’90s-era buff books, but I never found the occasion to buy one. Those FC and FD RX-7s are iconic sports cars and their designs have withstood the test of time, but what’s most important is that blokes like me are buying up the cars we drove in Gran Turismo.
I visited Wood’s Mazda menagerie a couple of times and walking through these FBs and FCs is very much like taking a stroll down memory lane. Whether he realizes it or not, Wood’s also developed a community of rotary enthusiasts. On my first trip, Wood’s joint was a lightning rod for several RX-7 owners looking for specialty parts and on my latest visit, he introduced me to his young neighbour, who now drives a turbocharged FC.
Listening to Wood, I’ve learned more about RX-7s than I ever knew before, but these iconic Mazda sports cars were unloved by the masses for the longest time. I’m always interested in what’s going to be the next hot thing, so I had to get his take on the last of the Mazda rotaries, the RX-8.
“The RX-8s have got a really good following here, but they weren’t designed the same as the earlier cars, the engine wasn’t designed the same, so it wasn’t as desirable or quite as reliable, and they had a lot of emissions controls. I think if the RX-8 originally had a 13B turbo engine in it from an FD, it would still be today’s greatest sports car—it’d be an amazing car. They corner, they steer, they brake, they do everything. The problem is they’re about one hundred and fifty horsepowers not fast enough,” Wood laughs.
“Lots of people have come here in RX-8s to pick up parts for their earlier models and the people that come here often have FD engines swapped into their RX-8s. You can literally buy the whole kit to swap an FD engine into an RX-8 because it really would make it the best of the best of the best … if you like the shape!”
After four years in business, Woods amassed a formidable inventory of parts as well as an impressive and ever-growing collection of rotary-powered Mazdas, plus one peculiar non-Mazda rotary—a Swedish-made Sno-Fury snowmobile. It’s the perfect rotary for an Australian Mazda enthusiast who now has to endure real winters. If you’re a Mazda devotee, you just might find your perfect two-car garage in this Ontario shop.