Zed Sacrilege

Take one of Nissan's most classic of sportscars - and stuff it with a Toyota heart!?

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

This article was first published in September 2001.

Why not? That's the question that Michael Galluzzo often bounces back at people who query his move to drop a Toyota turbo engine into his precious Datsun 240Z. For sure, the Zed purists cannot stand the thought of such an act.

But - as you'll read - there is reason behind this 'madness'.

First of all, the name Michael Galluzzo might ring a bell with Australian soccer fans - he plays for Sydney's Leichhardt Tigers. Michael - together with his father - bought this 1969 Zed (one of the early-bird ones) with the full intention of making it something special. They began their build-up by rejuvenating the standard body (which involved removing quite a lot of rust), soon followed by a big splash of Ferrari Red. The paint quality is truly immaculate, despite being a backyard job by a mate. (More than a few cartons of refreshment must have gone his way, we reckon!).

With the look-like-new Zed hoofing around under the power of the Weber'd, extractor'd and exhausted (literally) L-series six, Michael got the urge to give it some late-model grunt. The engine that he most dearly wanted to slot into the front was, of course, the Godzilla RB26DETT engine - but these are rare and ultra-expensive. W-a-y expensive by the time you get the ECU and everything that's needed to get it up and firing.

After discussion with Vince Rigoli, Michael was soon swayed to go the Toyota 7M-GTE (Supra turbo) six - so this Toyota-into-Nissan 'travesty' is Vince's fault! Vince pointed out that the 7M-GTE has 3-litres capacity (versus the 2.6-litre RB26DETT) and he'd previously seen some ripper outputs from them. You can't hold these things against it - even if it is a Toyota motor!

Vince sourced a Japanese-import 7M-GTE and - as a pre-fitting precaution - cracked it open for inspection. Everything looked good, so it was all sealed up again with a new cam belt. Next came the 240Z transplant. "It was pretty easy," tells an unashamed Vince, "we just made new engine mounts and installed a 3-core radiator with twin thermo fans."

Adding a little more the Toyota motor's factory zest is now a new O2 Rush filter tucked in behind the grille and an exhaust system that slashed away the bulk of restriction. This is a custom jobbie, with 3-inch mandrel plumbing with just a polished rear muffler serving to reduce noise.

Purchased as just a bare engine and 'box, there was the important task of sourcing an intercooler. No point in just slipping in a stocker, Mood Motorsport whipped up the biggest darn 'cooler they could nestle in front of the radiator (plus the beautiful mandrel plumbing to boot). Needless to say, an intercooler of this size does a sik job of lowering intake air temps - especially given that the standard wastegate setting of 7-8 psi is all that's received from the standard CT26 turbo. Oh, and - before we forget - Where's Wally kinda people might also spot the polished adjustable blow-off valve.

Vince Rigoli is a big believer in EMS programmable management, which is why Michael's Zed carries one such device. Vince configured the management system to run with a MAP sensor (reducing intake restriction), the standard injectors and ignition. Bosch provides the high-pressure fuel delivery required in an EFI application. Vince performed all mapping.

Instead of stuffing around with bell housing adapters trying to fit a Nissan gearbox, everyone thought it'd be wisest to simply stick with the 5-speed gearbox that came delivered hanging off the back of the motor. This went into the Zed with custom mounts and a Toyota slave cylinder (as part of the hydraulic clutch actuation system). A high-performance clutch went in at the same time - a brass button sprung centre item.

Connecting the output shaft of the gearbox is a custom tailshaft, which feeds into a 3.9:1 diff sourced from a later 260Z. But the wheels are where it all happens. On the standard wastegate setting and with everyday premium unleaded flowing through the injectors, this car has seen an easy 203kW at the wheels on a Dyno Dynamics dyno. Of course, that's not supercar stuff, but it's more than you'll get from - say - a HSV Clubsport R8. Throw this level of grunt in a relatively lightweight 240Z (24 oz?) and you can understand why everyone's predicting high 12-second quarter mile performance. Certainly, this could be achieved by bumping up the boost (assuming there's enough traction).

Try to imagine the amount of IRS squat there would be with the standard suspension in place. This is why Michael's made revisions with Koni shocks and lowered Lovells springs. A set of aftermarket swaybars had already gone on prior to purchase. Braking, too, has been improved to help accommodate the go of the 7MGTE. The front-end is equipped with Hilux discs and calipers with Endless pads, while - for now - the rear remains stock drum-spec.

The interior has been the last area to receive Michael's attention. A pair of Sparco Road fixed-back seats holds the front passengers like a bear, plus there's a Momo wheel, gear knob and pedals. The black carpets have all been redone and any 'daggy' areas have been thoroughly tidied up. Amazingly, the original dash pad remains crack-free. You can't help but get a feeling of nostalgic Targa-style racing when you step aboard.

Externally, the car rides on 16-inch five-spokers wearing 225/50 tyres. Michael's not totally sure what brand they are, but they were bought upon the recommendation of "the coach". They weren't cheap, though, at around $600 each (maybe this was the coach's payback after a lack-lustre game?!). Thankfully, the 240Z's beautiful flowing bodylines remain standard with the exception of GTHO-style external mirrors and a fibreglass front spoiler. The aforementioned paint job gives the car a distinctly Italian exotic appearance, while the ORGAZM number plates also aren't likely to go unnoticed...

Only being used for weekend cruises - when Michael's not tied up with soccer - it stands to reason that the Zed doesn't rack up too many miles. Because of this, Michael is now keen on selling the car (any enquiries through michael@autospeed.com). Certainly, it's just the thing to stand out in - and it could stand out a whole lot more with a few more psi boost stuck through 'er!

Contact:

V&E Rigoli
+61 2 9756 3413

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