Before we start talking about the project, we invite you to take a trip into the 70s, when cars were made by engineers rather than marketologists. We are going to talk about the famous «Z».
Almost every car made by Nissan corporation up until the 60s, were branded as Datsun. You could only see the Nissan badge exclusively on trucks, because, Nissan was manufacturing military products, well renown amongst the Americans. The Japanese manufacturer knew that their Nissan badge would be a bitter reminder of those times and tried their best to avoid it. They chose to develop the future of the company on US soil under the name of Datsun.
The patriarch model is Fairlady (or Sport in North America), that did not experience a warm welcome on the market, due to the big motor and comfort spoiled average American loved features, that the Japanese automobiles were lacking.
Based on Nissans gathered statistics, led by constructor Yoshihiko Matsuo, designers Sue Kiba and Akio Yosoda, engineers Tsuneo Benitani and Hidemi Kamahara the first Datsun 240z sees its birth. The first gen Fairlady Z was being produced from 1969 to 1978.
Pricewise the 240z was a winner compared to the same era sportscars: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Porsche 911, Jaguar E-type. But it was not the price that made the difference. In fact, 240z is an uncompromised coupe, an egoist coupe with an amazing weight distribution: the driver and passenger are almost seated on the rear axle. The 240z had a water-cooled inline 6, a couple carbs, that, at that time was producing a whopping 150 HP enough to launch the 1068-kg vehicle to a hundred (km/h) in 9 seconds and a top speed of over 200(km/h). Meanwhile fuel consumption remained under 11 liters per 100 km.
All combined made the 240z a hit on the market – selling the 3000-vehicle quota in 2 months and 150000 cars sold overall. The 240z quickly became the most popular coupe in North America.
Our guess is that it was such due to its, according to Americans, smaller displacement engine and good speed performance. We can also talk about the fact that the Japanese manufactured the car right before the oil crisis in the US in 1973. A lot of western car culture magazines were filled with articles about Datsun’s new car, the most successful ones being captioned “A new kind of economy car”
The very first batch of cars were 4 speed manual only and only later models came fitted with an automatic. Let’s see the specs on 1969 model:
Speaking of auto sports, in the 70s the 240z was a hit in rallying. They won East African Edgar Herrmann Rally Safari in 1971 and the 1973 Shekhar Mehta.
In 2004 Sports Car International Magazine gave Datsun 240z the well-deserved 2nd place on best 70s sport car nomination.
The core inspiration for the project came from Alex’s childhood dreams and memories. The idea of a project only came when Alex became the rightful owner of the car, since by then he was equipped with all the skill and knowledge he needed to pull this out.
The car itself starts its graceful history in Yokohama, Japan. A bright red car with a 2.4 liter inline six with dual carbs – a real beauty. Like every other export car, it was shipped to America, where due to some unknown circumstances it finds its way into the hands of a car collector in The Netherlands.
Later episodes develop in 1996, when the car is fully restored and repainted grey. Afterwards it was garage stored for 10 years and set to be sold on some site to be sold.
One day, as it usually happens, Alex accidentally stumbled upon the 240z selling ad. He bought it with no hesitation. The main reason he bought this car in particular, was the more or less good condition of the body and of course the price. The car was already 44 years at the moment.
A bunch of magazines, posters and advertisement pamphlets come with the car, and we really want to share them with you. It’s like going back in time, into the sweet 70s… What a retrospective…
The moment Alex saw the car, right after he bought it and got it delivered, he could barely hold his tears in.
“Yeah, the body condition was a bad guess, but at the time I thought the car was near perfect. The pictures sent to me, displayed a ear-to-ear smiling Dutch guy rust-proofing the car, but it turned out what it turned out”
The paint was a tragedy, the floors seemed to be inexistent due to corrosion, the fenders, hood the trunk were rusted as well. The Flintstone floor joke isn’t even appropriate, but everything that held it together was the soundproofing and anti-gravel underneath.
A lot of bodywork was to come. The body was brought back into its original form, with a lot of fabrication and missing metal welded back where it belonged. The color was chosen with no doubt in mind – Daytona Grey, a famous Audi pearl color that matches the concept behind the project ideally.
Since the 70s did not seem to be bothered with soundproofing and Alex did not want to be in a rattle can, it was decided to soundproof the car with 3 layers of sound isolation material on the roof, the floor, doors, trunk, engine bay and wheel wells.
Hardships were only beginning. Opening the hood gives an impression that it could fit any motor possible, but it’s only an impression. The difficult thing was “ye olde” Datsun had a different subframe configuration and a front mounted steering rack, compared to older Nissans. Unpleasant surprise, we agree on that. He had to buy a reversed oil pan and relocate the oil strainer. After that the RB26 engine and 34GTR drivetrain were installed.
Custom wiring and a Haltech Pro ECU are managing everything under the hood. He chose it since its specifically made to work with the BNR34 and to genuinely make life easier after all.
The suspension, no surprise, is a custom fully adjustable ball joint aluminum type. Built by “Arizona Z Car”, a small company ran by an elder gentleman, a business born from pure love towards the “Fairlady” and his own engineering knowledge. Luckily it was an easy, bolt-on install.
The car sits on a set of CR01 Work Meisters, 8.5 front, 9.5 in the back with -34 offset, with 5 lug conversion and Wilwood slotted brake discs on all 4 corners.
The interior was re-stitched. Alex kept everything as close to stock as possible. Since the dashboard was OEM, and Alex was kind of purist about it he couldn’t fit Defi gauges no matter how hard he tried and was forced to order one of a kind gauges, a tach and speedo as well as some others, manufactured by Speed Hut, another US based company.
Carbon fiber parts were a mix between US made (front and rear bumpers, lip and ducktail) and Russian made (overfenders, headlight trim, license plate frame and mirror overlay) parts fitted to match each other as well as humanly possible.
Finally, we have a precisely thought out project car, with its quirks and features, issues while building, but oh so worth it in the end. A beautiful, of the line look, with subtle carbon inclusions sitting on stunning CR01 Work Meisters. A welcoming, brand-new interior is worth every word or appraisal possible. Speaking of possibilities, this beauty pushes 400 HP and 460 N/M. Promising, isn’t it?