Car Life>>introducing Project S30

Earlier this year, my wife and I decided we would leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and relocate back to exotic Central California. The primary purpose for the move was to make the jump to home ownership and also to put me in better reach for Speedhunting the entirety of the Golden State. Of course just as important as the new house is the garage that comes attached to it…

But what should be in that garage? Since leaving LA, I couldn't help but notice that my 2006 Mustang GT was sitting there unused. While I loved driving the Stang, I began to ponder the idea of selling it to begin a new project. Something old and fun.

It turns out the timing couldn't have been better. Right around that time one of my good friends let me know that he was looking to get rid of his 1972 Datsun 240Z for a very reasonable price. He he had owned the car for a few years and decided to replace it with a more practical daily driver.

A few days later, with the help of my dad, we had the Z loaded up and ready to be gone through.

Overall, the car is is in great condition. The paint and body are both in good shape, but the car had been sitting for a while so it needed a little work before it could be deemed road-worthy.

Under the hood is a strong running example of the original L24 inline six. I've owned a couple beat up 240Zs in the past, and I had forgotten just how simple these cars are. Everything in the engine bay is laid out well and extremely easy to reach. Just what you want for a project.

Throw in the fact that the car is smog exempt in the state of California and you have project car perfection.

It's such a nice feeling just to sit in the car, hold the original wood steering wheel, and catch the whiff of nearly 40 years of history. Such is the emotional power that vintage automobiles hold.

The original 4-speed transmission is in good working order, even if its not the most precise feeling thing in the world. A 280ZX five speed upgrade is something that's definitely in the plans.

We didn't waste anytime before getting to work on the car. The first order of business was to get the car back into driving condition after it had sat for so long. First step, a trip to the local radiator shop to repair the punctured aluminum radiator.

Then we tackled the exhaust system. Seeing as how the car had no exhaust system on it whatsoever, we needed to do something here.

A sort through the garage spare parts pin, a trip to the auto parts store, and a bit of welding later – we had a temporary exhaust system on.

With its fancy new exhaust system on, we fired up the car and took it for its maiden voyage around the block. It ran well, but when it came time to stop things got a little scary. After going through the brakes, we saw a big improvement the Z was good for road use. The "prologue" of the build was complete.

In the meantime I was spending lots of time digging through my magazine collection looking for inspiration for the project.

This is always one of my favorite parts about owning any car.

I also found inspiration while sorting through through various photos I've shot in Japan.

Now, which way to go? Something mild and clean?

Something more aggressive, along the lines of this flared ZG?

Right now I'm leaning towards the simple vibe. I'm going to try my best to preserve the car's original character. Modest suspension and power upgrades, wheels, and light body work. No crazy RB swaps or V8 conversions here.

This S30 from RS Start is one of my favorite Z's out there, and it's certainly influenced they way I want to go with mine.

All I know is that Yuta Akaishi and I are going to get matching "Datsun Z" jackets. Maybe some airbrushed hats as well. Larry Chen, you in on this too?

Whatever happens with the car, I'm quite excited to be in this one for the long run.

The S30 is one of my favorite cars of all time and it feels amazing to start the journey with my own. Stay tuned as I make progress on this old lady.

Next time I'll get it out on the road and see how that goes…

-Mike Garrett



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im building a 72 240Z myself, but way more deteriorated than this one.. i have already spent about 6000 buks on it


imo mild and clean build but with flares and stance like yuta's Z (just not the purposely messy primer paint job, missing bumpers, etc) just my 2c


I prefer clean and original.


If I was to get a 240z, I'd try to build it up like the one spotlighted in this article. Most perfect 240z ever featured in Speedhunters. OMG, that car was beautiful


AWESOME! Good luck, Mike! i'll be honest and say i was a little disappointed that you got a Mustang, but all is forgiven with this most recent acquisition ;P


I would go with the factory flares that BRE ran, they look right, Konieg rewind wheels, and please keep the SU's you will thank me later. I run SU's on both of my 240's I tried webers and mikuni's but the SU's aer just troopers with the best street performance. For the track the webers had a slight advantage in higher rpm's, but with new needles for the SU's which I swap in for the track that are tuned better for the high end, they SU's are 99% there, without the BS/price of the webers. Also call BRE for ideas they are pretty good guys, as well as the Z parts place in Anahiem which name I cannot remember right now. Also there is a guy in HB that does Willwood brake conversions and retains the parking brake.



Congratulations for the new car!

I think the black datsun with the wide arches is the way to follow!

I wish you the best of luck with your project!


Awesome Mike, congrats.


Where the hell did you find a 240 in such good shape? All the ones I run across are either ready for the scrapheap or priced in the 5 figure range.


awesome project! I almost bought an identical one a few years back. I love the glass headlight housings!


so jealous...


Congrats on the Z purchase.

I also know how important a garage is to finding a new house, doing the same right now and its definitely slim picking in LA. Your Z looks to be in really good shape, even has those nice sugar scoop headlight covers. Going with the simple and clean resto mod route myself with my 71 240Z. These cars really have a character all their own and I wouldn't want to do anything to disturb that. You got a real treasure trove of great material to inspire you and im sure you will find just the right parts and style to make her your own. Keep them Z's runnin man!


Im diggin' the clean and simple look.


I Like your plans and will follow this one :) i'm currently building a EUDM 1972 240Z with a few JDM-goodies and slight upgrades (no V8's or RB's here too :D). check my project blog on ifrom time to time if you like and let us keep the good old Zed's alive. so beautiful and great performing cars. way ahead their time back then :)


Wat city dod you move to? I live in central cal too.


where is the slide squad z in this article you've created ? = total failure of all systems


Nice Z Mike, I am an S30 owner as well. I've bought my car about three times over and it still isn't anywhere close to where I want it to be. I'd say keep it simple and classic, sure it's a little "safe" but these cars can look so good with subtle period correct mods.

While I guess I respect the shakotan Z, it's painful to see a semi rare car like an S30 butchered that way. I realize I'm going to get blasted on this site for saying that...


Clean and simple for sure


god damn i love a nice z... very jealous of you and my friend bill. he has the most mint z i have ever seen 100% original 1970


Check out my blog. Same year same color. I went the direction it sounds like you want to go. Subtle and true to the original.


That's awesome. Congratulations on the datsun, its good to see others keeping with the classics and not installing a RB.. i can't wait to see more photos.


carb'd, cam'd and bored out L engines are music! Looking forward to how this car turns out!


Build it as if it were to race in the Super GT Gt300 class. Or go simple and lay down a nice paint job, drop it to the weeds, and put on some work equips.


Great looking project. I'd love to have one of these cars one day. Can anyone tell me what gauges they are in the car please? (the fuel/temp/oil etc ones) they're exactly what i'm after.


It hurts to see you sell the Mustang...but if you do, then why not build two Z cars! One clean and simple and one a little Devil Zish, loud brash and oh so cool!


Best thing I've seen for a while your lucky to get a 240 in such good condition, I think a set of Volk TE37V's will set this off real well.

So stoked to see your've got back to old school from the Mustang great choice!

Another thing check out the Rocky Auto carbon s30.


Great project


Nice work so far! Will be interesting to see how things pan out - Very jelly! I agree with the simple approach. Wish a tidy 240z wasn't the price of a 370z here in Australia!


Speedhunters editors and their epic cars...what is everybody else driving?


Hells yeah, you joined the Z club! I agree with Inzane240 up there ^^^. Check out his blog. His build is an inspirational resto-mod.


Thanks all! You guys are getting me even more pumped to get some work done on this car. Haha.

Inzane240, I actually have been checking your blog for a while now. Lots of inspiration there!


How you could get a smog exempt car and not go with something like and RB or SR is beyond me, but to each his own. Great car.


Sweet find, stick with that color! The #112 Yellow/Lime is one of the rarer colors. Also, you might want to look into a 240sx trans swap vs. the 280zx. It's not a direct bolt-up, but it's an easy swap. Plus, the 240sx trans is easier to find, stronger, full synchro w/ double cone synchros on 2nd, and has a taller 5th gear.


Great choice of car and best of luck with it. Simple is key with such a good looking car


Wow! Great choice on the new project! Can't wait to see what you do with it. I vote clean and semi-mild, functionally low, flares, wide 15-16" wheels, triple carbs, that 5 speed and brakes and hit the track days and touge!


Go for the devil Z look.. but in a different color..


Lookin forward to the future posts!


Leave the rims, they're nice, just drop it a lil bit or sell me the rims in case you don't want 'em.


ill be watching this build. the classic z is one of my favs. for the most part anywhere between the clean resto to a more aggro build they still look great. i would love to see a nice resto-mod. good luck!


Nice HLS30. I REALLY think you should go with the simple and clean look. The car looks so unmolested that it would be a shame to do something too extreme to it.

I'm also very happy to hear that it will retain its original L24. I hate V8 swaps.


Thank god!

Zs are legndary....

Too bad that deal with Ford didnt work out ...


OS GIKEN TC-24!!!! that be would so sick. Only thing is you would probably have to sell your mustang.that would be okay though cause no one likes American cars here. Lol


I'd keep it nice and mild. If in the process of follwing the build I see the letters 'LS' or the word 'stance' I may come over and kill it with fire.


mike! I have a 73. Im stoked to see you mod this one.. Ill be following it!


Hee hee, I have the same wheels on my AE86, appliance meshes at 14x7 0. Keep em! Nice seeing you got a nice classic, can't wait for the build process to start!


Greatest idea ever! Skrew that mustang your a Z boy now! Welcome to the family of Z crazed gearheads :D


Is there a light one piece hood fender option?


For my 86 Day features this year, I have something a little bit different to share with you guys. Something personal. That would be my own newly acquired AE86. So, how did I go from driving a burly Mustang GT to a 1980s Toyota Corolla? Let's find


Any new news on this build?


I just bought that same radiator off of ebay last week! Hows it working for you?


I just bought my first S30 in Sacramento.  I live in Boise and will be flying in and driving it home.  I couldn't be more excited to get started on it.  I'm partial to the more clean low key look myself.  I love the RS Watanabe wheels.