This article was first published in 2006.
After five days working on your car you might expect to get that new engine
up an’ running and maybe dyno tuned. Well, in those same five days Simon X
focused his efforts customising just the rear bumper of his Datto 240Z. With
this never-ending patience and commitment you can begin to appreciate how this
Zed – which, amazingly, was purchased as an AUD$800 wreck! – has been created.
Simon previously modified an old Volkswagen with a Subaru flat-four engine
but, having fallen in love with the 240Z many years ago, he was keen on
breathing life into one of Datsun’s most elegant coupes. More than four years in
the build - and with modifications ongoing - it’s probably best to give you the
run-down on the vehicle as you see it.
Simon recalls that the body had a lot of rust when acquired. A previous owner
had fitted wheel arch flares and the original rear arch lips had been cut and
crammed with bog. Unfortunately, these bodgied guards were too far gone to
repair so new guards were blended in and Zed aficionados may notice the rear
arch lips are now about 20mm wider than standard. In addition to the significant
rust repair effort, Simon installed new rubbers, badges and glass everywhere
except for the rear quarter windows. A new pair of quarter windows (which have
been very difficult to source) are soon to be installed.
That five-days-in-the-creation rear bumper has been fully smoothed with the
removal of the factory over-riders, sealed holes, removal of joins and revised
mounting system that eliminates the risk of bumper distortion. Three Datsun
bumpers were used to make the item you see in these pics. The bonnet is also a
combination of different model Zed parts – it’s the standard 240Z front section
with a vented 260Z rear section TIG’d on. It’s a seamless job. The front spoiler
is an aftermarket fibreglass job which Simon has modified to incorporate a
single air intake opening to feed the radiator and intercooler (intercooler?!
we’ll get to that...) The only other body mods are Ford XW GT alloy replica
mirrors which maintain a contemporary look. Wheels are Australian classic
Simmons 17s wearing 225/45 rubber. And the paint? An eye-catching Porsche pastel
yellow that dramatically changes character depending on light conditions. Simon
says the yellow paint was a bit of a risk but it has certainly paid off.
So what’s the deal with that intercooler we mentioned? Well, the Datsun
L-series six is very well suited for fitment of a huffer – and that’s the way
Simon went. The standard 2.4-litre six has been replaced with a big-banger
2.8-litre L28 which is rebuilt to suit forced induction – it boasts an O-ringed,
deburred and bored block and a P90 cylinder head (as used in overseas market
280Z Turbos). The P90 head has been cc’d and flowed, equipped with ceramic
coated valves, upgrade valve springs and a Tighe ‘turbo’ camshaft. Modifications
to the block deck and head achieve a static compression ratio around 7.5:1.
Pistons are dished L20 items combined with shot-peened and polished rods running
stronger bolts. Engine life is assured by a high volume oil pump, custom 7-litre
sump, modified oil ways, Mazda RX-7 oil cooler and a V8 Torana radiator which is
modified to suit and equipped with two thermo fans.
The intake comprises a ported and flowed L28 EFI manifold which has been
equipped with an adapter to fit a Ford XF Falcon throttle body. All holes are
welded up and there’s plenty of bling from the HPC ceramic coating and polished
Simon didn’t see any need to spend mega-bucks on the turbo system – instead,
he relies on a hybrid T4 turbocharger which is built from two turbos he picked
up at a swap meet. Boost pressure is typically set to 15 psi and associated heat
is relieved by a truck-based intercooler core with custom end-tanks and mounts.
Two Bosch blow-off valves are incorporated in the mandrel bent intercooler
plumbing and you’ll find an over-boost relief valve which opens at around 20
psi. Good insurance.
The T4 ‘charger is mounted on a tubular exhaust manifold which was attached
to a thrashed-out Japanese import engine that Simon picked up for a song. The 1
5/8 inch stainless manifold was originally equipped with a T28 turbo so Simon
had to fit an adaptor plate to step up to the bigger T4. Other than that, the
manifold has been re-welded, ported and high-temperature coated to match the
turbine housing. A Sigma external wastegate (which came on the import engine)
regulates turbine speed and feeds back into a 3 inch exhaust. Simon and a
friend, Harry, custom built a pair of mufflers to achieve the right exhaust
The L28 is fed fuel from an all-new system that uses Mazda Series 5 RX-7
injectors with a custom rail, Malpassi pressure regulator (with under-bonnet
pressure gauge), new steel and braided steel lines and a Bosch Motorsport pump.
Interestingly, Simon had a look at the internals of the standard 240Z fuel tank
and deemed it fit for use without modification – the original fuel drain plug
fitting is now the fuel pick-up location.
The ignition system is built from scratch. Forget the standard dizzy and
point setup – this engine runs triple MSD coils which are driven by a MoTeC M48
Clubman management system complete with optional ignition expander. The MoTeC
receives an input from crank and camshaft sensors and a MAP sensor. With boost
pressure set to 15 psi, the car currently turns a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno to
the tune of 230kW at the wheels. More than enough to give power oversteer and
on-demand tyre smoke.
The driveline is suitably beefed up with a 9.5 inch pressure plate and
Skyline GT-R type clutch, Nissan S14 Silvia turbo five-speed ‘box and a custom
heavy-duty tailshaft. The rear-end is an R200 LSD with R31 Skyline axles
modified to suit.
The 240Z’s sweet handling is enhanced by slicing 2 inches off the front
struts, adding adjustable spring platforms, King progressive springs and Koni
adjustable dampers from a Volkswagen Golf Sport. Interestingly, Simon was also
able to fit 2 inch cut 240Z front struts to the rear of the vehicle. This gives
identical suspension travel front and rear and you’ll find Koni adjustable
dampers and slightly lighter rate King progressive springs. The lower control
arms have also been rebuilt to provide adjustable geometry and pick-up points
were relocated to eliminate bump steer. All bushes have been replaced with low
compliance aftermarket parts.
OE Datsun/Nissan parts were seen as the best way to upgrade the brakes and
Simon’s Zed runs R30 Skyline front discs and, at the rear, 240K hubs teamed with
Honda Legend discs and Hilux 4-pot calipers. A 260Z auto booster and 260C
one-inch master cylinder head the system. A Wilwood adjustable bias valve is
installed but Simon says it stops very well without any major adjustment.
The interior is comprehensively brought into the modern era while also
maintaining the feel of the ‘70s. R&R Upholsterers have decked it out with
high quality leather and vinyl and Simon opted for an OE-style diamond stitch
pattern over the transmission tunnel – a few people thought this was a bit of a
strange move but, after seeing it, it gets the full thumbs-up. The Datsun
dashboard has been brought back to as-new, the plastic chrome trim is
rejuvenated, there’s an ex-Porsche Becker CD/tuner and a tasteful dark timber
wheel and gearknob add visual contrast. A custom 260Z badge is also inset into
the top of the knob. Simon also spent countless hours integrating a host of
AutoMeter gauges into the factory gauge provisions. Aftermarket aluminium pedals
and reshaped SAAS seats hold Simon and passenger in place. Simon also modified
the seats to incorporate stainless trims which accommodate the harness straps
that pass through to the rear strut tower brace.
The front strut tower brace it typical of the time and effort invested in
every part of this car. Simon and a mate custom made the front strut bar and
notice the gradual curve that had to be adopted to clear the valve cover –
there’s plenty of time spent achieving that perfect curve! The engine bay is
also free of exposed wiring, the factory welds are tidied up, all brackets are
beautified and everything is HPC’d or polished stainless. A stainless radiator
header tank, battery trim and catch-can are added for even more shine - and note
that rolled lip along the edges of the catch can (seen in this pic). This rolled
edge was achieved using a special tool – and, again, plenty of patience!
Take the time to click-and-enlarge the photos of Simon’s 240Z and you will
certainly see where much of his time has been spent... This is one superb car.