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- Post is under moderationRuss Smith’s market headliners ‘They’re the things you might expect on a car bought from auction in Japan and being sold on in the USA as a quick lip’ #Nissan-Fairlady-240ZG / #Nissan-240ZG / #Nissan-240Z / #Datsun-240Z / #Datsun / #Nissan / #Nissan-homologation / #Datsun-240ZG / #Datsun-240
Nissan’s homologation hero… Japan-only #Fairlady 240ZG to be offered by RM in Monterey
Something of a mystical beast because they were only officially sold in Japan (though we believe three now live in the UK), the Nissan-Fairlady-240ZG was created to homologate aerodynamic parts for GT and Group 4 racing. They are rarely seen on the world market so we asked Datsun Z-car expert Alan Thomas for his take on the no reserve offering from RM Sotheby’s at Monterey on August 24, during the Pebble Beach week.
‘Nissan initially built 500 240ZGs to satisfy the homologation, but they sold so well that more than 1000 were eventually made. Good, genuine and original HS30-H model 240ZGs command a premium in Japan and they are currently changing hands privately for well over £60k [I know of a lovely example that sold for over £71,000 last year] but they must be genuine. The main proof for this is in the documentation for the car – the original Japanese papers state the extra length and width, as well as the different internal factory coding – but good provenance is also important because there are occasional fakes. The body style itself is easily replicated, and there are many tribute cars on Japanese roads.
‘Furthermore, it’s important to note that Japanese market models never had the word ‘Datsun’ anywhere on them when they left the factory. They were, proudly, Nissan product through and through. There’s no such thing as a ‘ #Datsun-240ZG ’ – despite Tamiya’s 1⁄12th scale model of that name.
‘This particular example does not appear to be top level, with the bonnet extension panel suffering from sagging – the sun and heat in Japan will do this – and misalignment. That’s fairly easily fixed, so I don’t know why it hasn’t been done. Or rather I probably do. They’re the things you might expect on a car bought from auction in Japan and being sold on in the USA as a quick lip after a bit of hype. From what I see in the photos it’s also not very original – non-original but period-style wheels and rear strut brace among other things. I’d say that it would be a £35k-ish car in Japan.’
In the glossy press photos this appears to be a tempting opportunity to acquire one of the most sought-after #Z-cars – but there are a few factors that raise one expert’s eyebrows.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderationRETRO RIDE: DATSUN 240Z WORDS: Jarkle PHOTOS: #Larry-Chen / #Sung-Kang / #1973 / #Datsun-240Z / #Nissan-240Z / #Nissan / #Datsun
FILM STAR CAR / HAN SHOT FIRST
All Hollywood stars drive Italian exotica, right? Well no, not the rather Fast-and-Furious Sung Kang…
And there was us thinking movie stars only drive Ferraris and Range Rovers… obviously not when they’re feeling Fast and Furious.
Where were you when you saw your first Fast and Furious film? If you’re a petrol head and a modified car fan with even the most fleeting of interests in movies, then chances are you’ll know exactly where you were when you first met Dom, Brian, Letty and the rest of the gang. Me? Well my introduction to brake caliper-less Jettas, endlessly long gearboxes and suspect tribal vinyl graphics happened back in 2001, when me and a group of mates snuck our way into the Milton Keynes multiplex cinema overloaded with popcorn and fizzy pop, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Plenty of you clearly feel the same way, as not only has the F&F franchise grown out of all proportion, but it’s left an indelible mark on modified car culture. You only need to recall the outpouring of grief that followed Paul Walker’s tragic death to realise this.
These films have always strived to blur the line between make believe and reality of course, so it’s wrong to assume all the actors who appeared behind the wheel on screen (and boy are there a lot of them) were fully paid-up petrol heads. That said, some most definitely are and were, Paul Walker being the most famous example, Sung Kang (Han in the films) another. It’s the latter’s car that you see before you, a jawslackening Datsun 240Z that’s better known by its nickname ‘FuguZ.’
Debuting at last year’s SEMA show, Sung’s ’73 Datsun is a case study in how to do a 240. Each and every area of it groans under the weight of cool aftermarket hardware, clever thinking and one-off styling. Cars have been a part of Sung’s life for a long time. Tuning, modifying and generally being able to stamp his personality onto them was always a huge part of the appeal. So you could say he was always destined to build something like this eventually.
The thing that it’s pretty much impossible to overlook when you first clock Sung’s Z is its bodywork, specifically those bulging arches. They’re an unmistakable product of the chaps at Rocket Bunny, plus a little help from their official US importer (and a name that’s cropped up more than once in the F&F films themselves), GReddy.
The result is without doubt one of Kei Miura’s best efforts to date. A fantastically mean looking kit that manages something that not all his creations do: it looks right at home, working with the factory lines of the 240Z instead of simply swamping them with layers of hyper-aggressive plastic. There’s more at play than mere aesthetic showboating though, much more. The Z’s chassis received extensive strengthening and bracing (plus an imposing bespoke roll cage that dominates the car’s interior) before the kit was fitted, while the overhauled suspension setup has been painstakingly developed in order to maximise the car’s already polished handling characteristics. Techno Toy Tuning coilovers are largely responsible for this Datsun’s ability to corner with the kind of composure you normally associate with far more modern offerings. But the brand new suspension bushes and lightweight RAYS Volk Racing alloys also play a part, while cutting unsprung weight in the process.
There’s no point in pretending that cars like the 240Z aren’t ingrained in Japan’s automotive culture, and this in turn means that messing with them carries a certain amount of risk: get it wrong, go too far or otherwise ruin the car, and people from all sections of the car world won’t hesitate to tell you exactly what they think!
A good example of this is this car’s engine, now a RB26DE and created by removing the forced induction hardware from an RB26DETT, then recalibrating it to run in naturally aspirated form. The result is that this is far from the most powerful 240Z to have ever graced these pages, but it’s perhaps one that pays most respect for the original running gear first bolted into place by Datsun themselves. It is after all still a straightsix, and one still fed in a naturally aspirated fashion, albeit now via a sextuple of individual throttle bodies controlled via a standalone ECU.
Keeping the ethos behind the 240 was import ant for Sung. That doesn’t mean he was adverse to modifying it of course. It has a forged bottom end and a ported head, but he was keen to preserve its, ahem, Datsun-ness.
The result is that this car can now call on a very handy 220bhp, a figure that can be fully exploited pretty much anywhere you care to mention. Particularly when you factor in the trick OS Giken LSD that brings up the rear of the drivetrain.
There’s no point making a street car stupidly powerful, not if you want to enjoy using it on a regular basis and Sung is happy with how it drives; there’s a good balance of power and handling.
Sung went to great lengths to ensure this theme of balance and respect for the car’s origins continued into the interior, where you’ll now find CarbonSignal Automotive bucket seats, dash and doorcards, a smattering of attractive gauges to monitor the engine’s vital signs, and the aforementioned roll cage. No, it doesn’t look stock and was never intended to. But neither does it look overtly modern or out of place. Once again, the balance has been struck perfectly.
The chances of any of you reading this actively disliking Sung’s car are, let’s face it, slim. And that’s because he’s done a simply amazing job in modifying it to his tastes. But what really sets this Z apart from the herd is its owner. Namely that his passion for cars, messing about in them and with them, remains resolutely undiluted. Some of the stunts, scenes and CGI present in the earliest Fast and Furious films might have started to show their age, but as long as the films continue to hold a mirror up to modified car culture (or an idealised version of it), we’ll certainly continue to watch… and maybe even be closet super fans.
TECH SPEC: ‘1973 240Z
ENGINE: GReddy built #Nissan-RB26DE with high compression pistons; forged con rods; ported head; custom individual throttle bodies; AEM standalone management; Nissan 5-speed manual gearbox; #OS-Giken clutch and LSD; R200 differential.
CHASSIS: Fully braced and strengthened chassis with custom #GReddy multi-point roll cage; Techno Toy Tuning coilovers; #Wilwood discs and callipers; aftermarket high pads and braided lines; 17in RAYS Volk Racing TE37V SL forged wheels; Nitto NT01 tyres.
STYLING: Signature Auto Body restored 1973 Datsun 240Z in Kilimanjaro white; Rocket Bunny wide arch kit; JDM-style front-mounted wing mirrors; custom ‘FuguZ’ badging.
INTERIOR: Custom GReddy roll cage; custom CarbonSignal dash, door panels, bucket seats; multi-point Takata harnesses; oil, temp and pressure gauges.
Well, he’s not gonna be rolling in a Hyundai, right?
Now that’s the face of a superstar!
No added sound effects needed here!
And not a tank of NOS in sight!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationStephen Bayley hits suburbia in the Japanese icon. Zen and the art of the Z.
It was the first sports car from Japan to attain the status of icon. Who better than Stephen Bayley to unravel the appeal of the Datsun 240Z? Photography Paul Harmer.
There’s a marvellous saying in Zen that ‘whatever is true, the opposite is truer’. You can apply that principle to the question of Japanese sports cars. The question being: are there any great ones? Japanese culture is stiff with concepts of the superiority of collaborative endeavour over individual expression. They have a concept known as nemawashi, which translates as ‘root-binding’, but actually means collective responsibility. Then there isjishu-kisei for self-restraint. Hence a public fast train, the glorious Shinkansen, is preferred over a personal idiosyncratic sports car. Moreover, Japan’s 60km/h speed limit is among the most stringent in the world.
And yet there is a Japanese sentiment that finds its best expression in sports cars, often of very unusual character. The 1959 Datsun SP211 was based on the Bluebird saloon and called Fairlady, a name inspired, in that amusing Japanese way, by the company president’s 1958 visit to Broadway to see the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe musical that was, itself, based on Shaw’s Pygmalion. Thus, the layered, yet revealing, meanings of automobile nomenclature.
Pygmalion was a play about a hopeless strumpet being civilised through ambition and elocution. The Fairlady followed a similar path of improvement, evolving into a pleasing MGB-like proposition – although, by the time it reached its final 1968 edition, what had become the Datsun 2000 Sports Roadster proffered an output of some 135bhp, and it effortlessly shaded the English car in every single aspect of performance and quality.
Then there were the exquisite 1963 Honda S500, and the impressive rotary-engined Mazda Cosmo of the following year. And in 1965 Toyota showed its sensational 2000GT. Clearly inspired by the Jaguar E-type, Toyota refused to attribute its design to any individual until Paolo Tumminelli identified Satoru Nozaki in his fascinating 2014 book Car Design Asia – myths, brands and people.
Forgotten now is the elegant 1966 Isuzu 117 Coupé, drawn by Giugiaro when he was still at Ghia and at least as fine as the same designer’s contemporary Gordon-Keeble. In fact, it’s impossible not to believe they used the same drawings twice. But the greatest Japanese sports car of them all was the new 1969 Datsun Fairlady. This we know as the 240Z.
Like all great products, creation myths surround its origins and evolution. But these creation myths, the idea of ‘authorship’, were a necessary part of the progress and acceptance of Japanese design in the West. Against all the principles of nemawashi and jishu-kisei, the 240Z has always been recognised as the inspiration of Yutaka Katayama, described in his New York Times obituary earlier this year as an ‘ebullient, adventurous man’. Mr K, as he became known, was unlike his timorous and anonymous corporate colleagues. He was 105 years old when he died.
Katayama had been a successful rally driver and became the first president of The Sports Car Club of Japan, an imitator of the American SCCA whose races at Laguna Seca and Bridgehampton offered a theatre for the English sports car to perform in front of appreciative audiences. And it was the leading role of MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey that Katayama set to usurp with his new Datsun coupé. His story is told in David Halberstam’s 1986 book The Reckoning, a study as much about the collapse of the US auto industry as the rise of Japan’s.
Because of his extrovert personality, Katayama had been banished from Japan to California, a sort of gulag as seen from Tokyo. As the first president of what became Nissan Motor Corporation USA, Katayama faced derision, cultural obstacles and profound market apathy in America but, under his influence, by 1969 the neat little Datsun 510 saloon was selling 60,000 units a year. This growing success had given him the prestige to talk his own project into being back in Tokyo.
The precise origins of the 240Z may never perhaps be disinterred from the archives, but it seems to have been based in an early-1960s project called A550X, a joint venture with Yamaha. Albrecht Goertz, a designer who had learnt the craft of self-promotion in the United States from his mentor, the sleek, perfumed and pomaded Raymond Loewy, was hired as a consultant.
Hitherto, Goertz had worked on Loewy’s Studebakers and the BMW 507 that, since Ferry Porsche was impressed, led to some early styling proposals for the 911. Goertz it was who introduced the Japanese to the use of American-style full-size clay models in the design process, so has a big claim to having begun graphically biased Japan’s adventure into Western sculptural 3D.
But the A550X stalled and Yamaha took its engine technology and the rest of the project to Toyota, where it soon appeared in the Toyota 2000GT – which Yamaha eventually built in its Hamamatsu factory. Goertz, however, stayed on with Datsun, collaborating with in-house designer Kazuo Kimura on the beautiful Silvia Coupé. However, when it was presented at the New York Auto Show of 1965, American critics found the Silvia too cramped and too under-powered. This seems to have been the imperative Katayama needed to create a real sports car.
This he did by encouraging another another in-house Datsun designer, Yoshihiko Matsuo, who ran Styling Studio No 4, to rage against the conservatives at Nissan who had abandoned A550X and design a brave new car. But Goertz stayed long enough to have had his name associated with the 240Z. Persistent claims by the argumentative Goertz were grudgingly and partially acknowledged by the company in 1980, although Matsuo and Katayama published a more official list of those involved in their 1999 book Fairlady Z Story. It reads like a musical’s cast: Teichi Hara, Kazumi Totsurnoto, Akio Yoshida, Sue Chiba, Eiichi Oiwa, Kiichi Nishikawa, Hidemi Kamahara and Tsuneo Benitani. Car design is, indeed, a collaborative venture. And perhaps not one that gives due credit to its heroes.
There is more certain ground to discuss Mr K’s concept. He wanted a coupé, not a roadster. This was pragmatic: impending US legislation would, so it was thought, outlaw convertibles. He liked butch numbers as model designations, not effete names. The ‘Z’ simply connoted a Jetsons-era modernism. It is said that early proposals resembled Giugiaro’s Ghibli, but the car that went on sale in the United States on 22 October 1969 had a style all of its own.
With its 2393cc 151bhp L-series six-cylinder (an engine inspired by Mercedes-Benz, whose designs were produced under licence by Prince, which merged with Nissan in 1966), it easily outperformed English rivals and annihilated the American hegemony of MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey. Katayama said at the New York launch: ‘The 240Z represents the imaginative spirit of Nissan and was designed to please a demanding taste that is strictly American… We have studied the memorable artistry of European coachmakers and engine builders and combined our knowledge with the Japanese craftsman.’ The car cost a modest $3526 and, while some critics found its finish and behaviour a little crude, it soon dominated its class in the symbolically important SCCA races.
Visually, the 240Z is exceptionally distinctive. With its long bonnet and emphatically rearwards cabin, the general arrangement is based on the E-type while its scalloped headlights were inspired by Ferrari, but the whole is unique. It is small, but imposing, aggressive, yet elegant (although most of the original 240Zs had crude pachinko-style wheeltrims, not proper alloys). It does not look nearly half-a-century old. But get into a 240Z today and it seems very narrow, feels slight and a bit upright too. Doors are insubstantial and strangely thin. The structure pre-dates the computer-aided modelling that, inspired by safety legislation, has given impressive psychological bulk to even the most modest contemporary cars.
The 240Z’s glazing bars seem fragile. There are sharp edges and you wince to think of its integrity during an impact. Indeed, a stabiliser bar across the rear hatch opening suggests that body flexing was a problem. The hatch itself closes with a shuddering undamped clang, not a modern moderated thwump. Start the engine and there is a fine induction roar. Press the throttle and there is a lot of noise, but not a lot of progress. Steering is precise, visibility good. I am not certain I felt that sense of euphoria Katayma described when he said the 240Z gave access to that mystical man-and-machine harmony, but it was certainly amusing to drive. It feels vintage. Sue Chiba’s interior, with its hard plastics and irrational scattering of tumbler switches and sliders, seems Cold War. The 240Z was the first modern Japanese sports car… and also, globally speaking, one of the last old ones.
To my eye, the 240Z cannot be separated from the 1970s and its strange visual culture, still influenced by voyeuristic television serials that were themselves located in a more distant, romantic age of onedimensional heroes and villains, following linear plots. It was co-eval with the rise of disco and reggae, the avocado-coloured bathroom ‘suite’, Italian furniture in tangerine plastic, and the era in which Habitat (whose signature colour was a violent green) was the dominant high street taste-maker with its knock-off bean bags and inimitable chicken-bricks. Thus, it represented a gorgeous, remote dreamworld of innocently sexy un-wired consumerism.
For this reason, we photographed the 240Z in the extraordinary Edgcumbe Park estate in Crowthorne, near Bracknell, on land that once belonged to Windsor Great Park. Here, as my fantasies enlarged, was where you could reliably enjoy barbecues and wifeswapping after a thrilling blast up the dual carriageway from Maidenhead in the Z-car. More prosaically, Edgcumbe was a high-minded garden suburb created by an enlightened developer called Athelstan Whaley, who had been influenced by Scandinavian domesticity and the ranch-style houses of California. As Katayama said, the 240Z package was addressed to America. At the time, most advanced design was.
Exactly contemporary with the 240Z and its Fairlady predecessor, Edgcumbe Park was begun in 1958 and completed in 1970. The ambitious brochure – more, really, of a manifesto – was revealing: ‘The place to live West of London,’ it said. ‘Every house, every site and winding cul-de-sac is imaginatively planned by our Architectural Staff [note CAPITALS], preserving the Oaks and the Mountain Ash, the Scots Pine and Sycamore, ensuring good orientation and pleasant views.’ And, if you could afford it, you would have a Charles Eames chair and ottoman next to your heated serving trolley with its taramasalata and beef olives, around which your female guests would gather, wearing billowing cheese-cloth dresses and agreeable pouts.
It was in a house on this estate that François Truffaut shot, with Julie Christie, his film of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a novel set 50 years in the future. The estate has been described as ‘the future that time forgot’. And now, as we remember it, how distant that age of thigh boots and hot pants seems. Delicious to imagine the felicity of driving a fast and reliable 240Z home, parking it in the drive of your California-style ranch home in Berkshire, then sipping a Campari and soda before you enjoyed a casserole served in bright orange (Raymond Loewy designed) Le Creuset oven-to-tableware.
More than half-a-million 240Zs were manufactured and its success lent Datsun an aura of prestige that could not have been achieved by the front-wheel-drive Cherry. As The New York Times noted in 2008, it changed ‘the auto industry’s perception of Japanese cars’. Katayama-san retired in 1977 when Japan was still a pompous, conservative and hieratic nation.
While America acknowledged his achievement with the 240Z, at home his high profile was interpreted as vainglory and Katayama was not fêted in retirement. But with the increasing scholarly interest in the history of car design, Katayama began to emerge as a significant figure and, by 1997, Nissan was running television ads featuring the ebullient Mr K, father of the Z-car.
The 240Z is one of the great Japanese cars. In fact, one of the greatest cars of them all. Consider again that Zen proposition and take pleasure in the ability of cars, good and bad, to evoke powerful and romantic ideas. Great cars take your imagination, as well as your body, on fascinating journeys to remote worlds. Even as far as Crowthorne.
Thanks To 240Z owner Phil Bradshaw, 240Z specialist Fourways Engineering, www.datsun240z.co.uk, and Edgcumbe Park homeowners Mr and Mrs Vincent.
TECHNICAL DATA #1973 #Datsun-240Z / #Nissan-240Z / #Nissan / #Datsun
Engine 2393cc straight-six, OHC, twin #Hitachi / #Hitachi-SU-type carburettors / #SU
Power 151bhp @ 5600rpm
Torque 146lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Steering Rack and pinion
Suspension Front and rear: MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
Brakes Discs front, drums rear
Performance Top speed 122mph. 0-60mph 8.7sec
Right. Stephen explores the details of the Z, with its flaps by the bonnet for accessing the battery and suchlike, and an under-bonnet lamp that can be removed for localised illumination. Such attention, he says, is typical of the Japanese approach to car design.
‘It represented a gorgeous, remote dreamworld of innocently sexy un-wired consumerism’
Above and right. There had been Japanese sports cars and coupés before the Datsun 240Z, but none had been designed with an eye on the American market. Stephen describes the black, moulded interior as ‘Cold War’.
‘The 240Z cannot be separated from the 1970s and its visual culture. It was co-eval with the avocado-coloured bathroom suite’
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