Worlds Apart: Not Another RB-Swapped Z
Either Or

I have to admit, I may have uttered a famous James May phrase when I opened Speedhunters on a Monday morning last month. Looking right back at me was a Datsun Z with an RB-swap. At a quick glance, it was pretty much the same car I had just shot 24 hours previous in Mondello Park. First, I was confused. Then, I was fascinated.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-10

Re-examining ‘my’ 260Z with the one Mike shot, the differences became much more apparent. Here were two cars, built on opposite sides of the planet by two different people with two different end goals, but with the same love for the iconic Datsun coupé. I was enthralled by the idea of the two cars being built, one unbeknownst to the other.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-19

When Ian Cormack bought this 260Z around two years ago, it was a partially restored example. He told me that pretty much everything was done, except the front of the car. This suited Ian’s plans perfectly.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-2

Having completed the restoration, he set about reinforcing the front and seam-welding where possible to add as much strength as he possibly could. He bought the car with the sole plan of swapping in an RB26DETT, and not much was going to get in his way.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-7

The GT-R motor came from an R32 race car, which had unfortunately found itself on its roof and completely totalled. Thankfully, the RB Motorsports engine was removed and was able to live to fight another day. In its race state of tune, Ian believed the engine to be far too powerful for the 260Z. By going to a smaller pair of turbochargers, he reduced the power level to a maximum of 480hp with 490lb-ft at full boost, which it reaches at around 3,800rpm.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-4

Ian spoke repeatedly about drivability and told me that most of the time the low boost setting is more than enough to keep him entertained on the road. It’s something that I’m hearing a lot more from people, that they see no point in chasing horsepower figures if they can’t effectively deploy it. The custom McKinney Motorsports suspension along with the Wilwood front brakes and Mustang GT rear brakes help make this classic Datsun handle and stop like a much more modern car.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-16

Ian did confess that he considered over-fenders in order to accommodate a wider wheel and tyre combination but has put the idea off for a while. His reason being that it’s irreversible without going through great expense, and he truly loves the original shape and lines of the car.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-5

The carbon fibre spoiler is a subtle nod to the car’s modernity, but there isn’t much else on the outside that gives the game away once the bonnet is shut. Well, except the large front-mount intercooler lurking behind the grille. I really like it this way.

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-8

The interior is as fresh as you would expect, and save for a few neatly installed toggle switches you would still struggle to tell from in here what this 260Z is capable of. Although that warning sticker might give it away…

2015 Datsun 260Z RB26 Ian Cormack by Paddy McGrath-17

It’s only natural to make comparisons between the two Zs that we’re talking about, but I can’t say that I prefer one over the other. Instead, I can appreciate them both and can only applaud how both owners have created exactly what they want from a similar starting point.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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260Z with RB26 ... I love the combination .




Fine present mix of the best from Japan´s automotive past :-)


One word; "Perfection"


Speedhunters i


I like how you didn't mention the wheels. :)


David K Was going to post exact same thing :) Speedhunters and Rota's - doesn't match at all..


The dedication it self its astonishing... the attention to detail and final presentation are above average.. But i can't stop from having this weird felling when i see such an historic car being tuned up ( and with this moving away from his originality)  losing his value.. i mean.. 20 years from now.. what will people think when they see this car with these changes?
But all in all.. great job.. :)


So was it "Oh cock!" or "Bloody hell!" that you uttered? LOL!


'Ian SPOKE repeatedly abou...' - I see what you did there ^^


This might highlight my ignorance, but why de-tune a car if all the work has been done? I understand that a BHP figure is not the be all and end all, however has he not just limited the power to something that the original turbos could have done in the first place? Or is more that the temptation of the loud pedal would be too much and hitting peak power with the big turbos would have ripped the car apart in it's current state?


That IS300 tho...


REKT_Disco He most likely swapped to the smaller turbos for better throttle response.


Had to step out for a cigarillo. There's just too much to love about this car.


uoeno Since they are in NZ it is more than likely an RS200 Altezza, but I saw it too haha


Followed the build thread over on RMS, awesome dedication.

turbo BEAMS ae86



Dogg David K #RotaWheelsMatter


AirLift_Lucas uoeno Not in New Zealand, but it is a likely an Altezza, can't remember off the top of my head.


Paddy McGrath AirLift_Lucas uoeno Oh yeah you are in Ireland. It's hard to remember where all you guys are located haha


REKT_Disco The engine was a built motor from an R32 GT-R that was crashed whilst racing and just too powerful for a street car where the owner is focused on drivability. On the plus side, he's probably also benefitting from improved reliability too.


AirLift_Lucas Paddy McGrath uoeno Hahaha, no worries. They're both green and full of sheep. Easy mistake :)


jay8393 The former. But probably less polite.


Why do we love Datsun Z cars so much? I know they have less room inside than a Miata, but even with the original engine, and struggling with carbs that just don't want to play nice in cold weather, I would still take one in a second.

This is a fantastic sleeper in my opinion, and like that he stuck with the narrower stance. It just looks better for the roads in Ireland :)


Afonsoae82gt It could be put back to stock-ish relatively easy. I think by keeping within the Nissan family, he hasn't done anything to de-value it either.


davidfryklind I'd like to take credit for that, but it wasn't on purpose!


Great to see that the owner respects the two bucket method!

Beautiful car; a perfect mix of new and old. I'm sure at 480hp it's an absolute beast on the road

Thanks for sharing Paddy


Going Wangan tonight?


jay8393 You beat me to the cock. Wait. That sounds weird.


Well that's fucking terrifying. I love it.


Paddy McGrath AirLift_Lucas uoeno I have a 2002 so I noticed it immediately haha


reduced the power! nooo make it insane!


Verdigrie I too am a fan of the two buckets.


iProGam3r I've noticed a lot of builds lately where owners are aiming for drivability over outright horsepower numbers. It's a good thing too, IMO. No point in having power if you can't effectively transfer it to the ground. 

Although big skids are fun...



not a bad idea, but a first hahah

greets Hunters!


This car could be bone stock under the hood and it would still be the prettiest Z I've ever seen.


devil z


uoeno Paddy McGrath AirLift_Lucas I do as well! Check my profile pic. Mine is an 02 with a JZX110 1JZGTE swap :)


David K
agreed. How do you drop thousands upon thousands of $ into such a beautiful specimen and throw some Rotas on it. At least borrow a friends set for the photoshoot. 
LOVE the build otherwise!


It's odd but refreshing to see a Z car rocking an old school look while still rocking an RB. Aesthetically this one is mostly period correct as far as I can tell.


Afonsoae82gt - I never plan to sell it so I don't really care about the value or for that matter what people will think, I built it how I want it and for my enjoyment and in those areas it succeeds perfectly because I never get bored of it and I've always got  big grin on my face when driving it. 

IMO thats what cars are for.


You guys should feature this shop Z cars - most of them are super amazing!


REKT_Disco - All I did was swap the -10's for Twin HKS GT-SS, I was aiming for a car which would be nice to drive on the road and not just the drag strip, I built this car for sheer driving pleasure above all else and responsive turbos with a low boost threshold are key to making a good engine for the road. Trust me when I say that my Z is nicer to drive than how it is than how it would drive with 650hp+, Power figures are good for bragging rights, pub talk and impressive reading on Speedhunters, but that doesn't always mean it makes the car more fun. It still does 0-100mph in under 8 seconds as it is.

You aren't getting anywhere near 480hp on stock turbos, they can't handle more than 1 bar of boost. The engine is built to take 2 bar so with me running it 1.5 its never going to be stressing the engine and all I have to do to move up to something like 650hp is change the turbos and remap, the rest of the setup has been over engineered as much as the engine so no problems there. With the built engine it solves the common RB problems, its got oil restrictors to the head, oil drains enlarged, head to sump drain, longer crank collar, uprated oil pump and many more. For me to buy a stock engine I would still want to carry these mods out so it actualy worked out cheaper to go with the race motor.

Chassis can take more power easily, I have reinforced the chassis, but traction is the limiting factor unless you start going crazy with the body.


When I was younger this was the dream car I built in my head


mnchk1987 When you build a car for driving pleasure, drive-ability is key, Big HP is good for bragging rights but you can only use what you can put down and at the moment I can put the power down very well, I designed the suspension to squat when accelerating hard so the tyres are hammered into the road resulting is great traction.

I've never enjoyed driving cars on the road which have a high turbo threshold (in other words very laggy) so my aim from the start was to build an engine that was very responsive and had a very low boost threshold, I started with Hondas (Still own an EF with a B20) so I guess I was trying to make a turbo engine behave somewhat like an NA engine. Sure I could have stuck the engine in as it was with over 650hp but there no way I'd have enough traction, it would be harder to drive and I'd be missing the massive midrange the GT-SS give me which is important for a nice driving car.(I have 375hp and 475ftlb at just 4000rpm)

My cars weight is just over 1100kg, anyone who thinks a car that light is slow with 480HP and 490FTLB is crazy, 0-100 mph comes up in under 8 seconds, thats fast enough for me. I know a chap with a big hp RB25 Z, but he has big lag and when the turbo comes on song it just breaks traction in most gears, I have a heap more power than him up to 5000RPM and his looks very tricky to drive. I know which Id rather have.


Paddy McGrath iProGam3r Trust me Paddy, it can still do big skids is required.


Kirk_B Hard to get over that shape, plus once you drive one you are hooked.


Nice post Paddy - Cheers

Pity I didn't have more time to chat, would have been nice to point out some more of the details.

Heres the spec list for anyone interested:

Body and
MSA Front Air Dam
Airdam to core support diffuser made from alloy
Carbon Fibre Rear Spoiler – BRE style
Carbon Wrapped Taillight Trim Panels
Camber plates welded in front strut towers
Stitch welded seams
Jap style indicators
H4 headlights Upgrade
Headlight Relay Upgrade
Engine bay harness re-wired
Strengthening braces on upper chassis rails
Cusco Front Strut Brace
Cusco Rear Strut Brace
Stainless Steel bolts
all round
Titanium Bumper Bolts
Rota RB-R Wheels 8x16
Toyo R1R tyres – 225/45/16
Project Kics R26 open ended wheel nuts
Custom R34 GTR Style Engine Plaque
Rocker cover breathers replaced with
welded -10 fittings and painted Candy Apple Red
Nismo oil cap
Greddy clear cam gear cover
Underneath sealed with stonechip and
Void Spaces sealed with Dynax S50
DEI Reflect a Gold heat shielding around
downpipe area
Turbo Timmy Mascot
Engine – RB26DETT
05U Block – 2628CC
Trust 87mm pistons
Tomei piston rings
Tomei Forged rods
R34 GTR crank, balanced
Tomei conrod bolts
N1 conrod bearings
ACL Bearings throughout
N1 oil pump
Nismo Water Pump
Greddy Cambelt
ATI 1200bhp Harmonic Crank damper
Enlarged oil drains to help oil return from head
Custom rear oil sump, extended capacity with
baffles and trap door setup
Custom Mounts
Custom Duraflex Poly mount bushes
Flowed/ported/matched by RB Motorsport
Tomei bronze guides
Tomei PonCam Bs
Tomei Valve springs/Retainers
Tomei Lifters
Tomei Pullies
Mines Baffle plates
External drain to sump at rear of head
Tomei layered 1.5mm Head Gasket
Tomei Oil Galley Restrictor
ARP Head studs
HKS Throttle body gaskets
SFS Radiator Hoses
Custom alloy baffled breather/catch tank
Fuchs Titan Race Pro S 5W-40 Oil
Millers Anti-freeze with Millers Extra
Cool coolant Enhancer and Corrosion Inhibitor
NGK Iridium Spark Plugs

Turbo / Intercooler:

Twin HKS GT-SS Turbos
Ceramic Coated and ported stock Manifold
HKS Manifold Gaskets
Tomei Turbo Elbows – Ceramic Coated
Custom Stainless Downpipe
Split Twin Turbo Pipe
Custom Pro Alloy Intercooler
Stainless Braided oil and water lines
Synapse Engineering Synchronic BOV
Custom Intercooler Piping – Polished
Stainless Steel
Custom Stainless Intake piping
Twin K&N Air Filters
Custom SS Exhaust System
Custom Pro Alloy
aluminium fuel tank, built in fuel pump, baffle foam, baffles and internal
Fuel Rail
Asnu 700cc Injectors
DeatscheWerks DW300 Fuel Pump
Aeromotive Fuel Pressure Regulator
Inline Fuel Filter
hardlines, ss braided lines, fittings and hoses

Link G4+ Extreme ECU with knock control, OBDII, Antilag, Launch Control and High
and low boost map
Braille Carbon Fibre Battery with Alloy Mount
Negative terminal
mounted battery kill switch
MGT Crank Trigger Kit
Rywire Custom Mil Spec engine harness
and fuse box
RB Motorsport R34 Ignition Coils
Spal 16” Fan


R33 GTST Gearbox
Tomei Short shifter
Nismo Super Coppermix Twin Plate Clutch
Nismo Flywheel
Nismo Flywheel Bolts
R200 Rear Diff with OS Giken Superlock 1.5 way CLSD
4.11 Final Drive
Custom Propshaft
Z31T CV Joints with custom shafts
Modern Motorsports Billet companion flange
Chequered Flag Racing Billet Chromalloy Stub Axles
RT Front Diff Mount
SS Clutch line
Millers Oils CRX 75W-90
NT Competition Oil
OS Giken OS250R LSD Diff

SS braided lines
SS Hardlines
Millers 300 brake fluid
Wilwood 1” Master
Wilwood Adjustable Prop
12.2” Wilwood Superlight
Callipers front
Hawk HP+ Pads
Custom  12” brake setup rear – Mustang GT rotors,
Lincoln LS callipers with custom alloy brackets, custom handbrake cables
EBC Redstuff pads

Custom Coilover setup
Full re-bush with poly bushes
AZC Billet Steering Knuckles
ARP Extended Wheel Studs all round
Adjustable Camber Plates at front
T3 Adjustable Tension Rods
Urethane steering coupler bushing
New ball joints and bearings all round (uprated
where possible)
Custom Red stitched Gear Gaiter
Nardi 360mm Classic Steering wheel, Perforated
Leather with red stitch
HKB Boss
Billet Alloy lock pulls
Custom Black Floor mats
VDO Fuel Gauge
Pioneer Head Unit
Speed hut Gauges: 
Tachometer, Speedo, Boost, Water Temp, Oil Pressure


Verdigrie Before my current job I used to run a small detailing business, so for me the only way is the two bucket way. Plus I wouldn't dare let anyone else wash my car but me.


Ian Cormack Kirk_B Oh, I'm hooked just from seeing the emblem on the grill. Old Datsuns hold so much nostalgia for me, that it could have a hamster wheel in the engine bay, and I would still like it.

But to take one of my late model hero engines, (from race spec nonetheless) and detune it to make this a great drivers car, I'm sorry your across the pond. This is a car I would like to make a pilgrimage to see!


If you can't use it, it'll just kill you. I upgraded my old 86 Saab 9000 T16 (early version) with an exhaust, open ram intake and a tune. Went from 165kw to 250kw & 350Nm torque using stock parts. At 1200 rpm I had 50% boost and a flat line torque curve all the way to 6500 rpm. 0-100 km/h: 5.3s. 0-160km/h: 9s.
Wasn't too many v8 or STI or EVO that could match that car around my local circuit (Wakefield, Goulburn, Oz) even those with twice the output.
There were a couple that were quicker down the straight, but not as drivable over the whole circuit.
This guys thinking with the Z is still over the top, but not unreasonable. Great work there sir.


Z cars are so beautiful. Datsun really set the precedent for Japanese manufacturers taking on the established racing cars last century with cars like these. Correct me if I'm wrong but the Z cars competed with Porsches. In the market and on the track. But as a Japanese badge were dismissed, as were lots of other Japanese-made cars. As an owner of a Japanese sports car (albeit an old one) cars like these and their racing heritage makes me proud. 

"It's something that I'm hearing a lot more from people, that they see no point in chasing horsepower figures if they can't effectively deploy it." Agreed. High figures aren't the be all and end all. I've heard of tuners squeezing a lot out of 4 cylinder engines, and while that is good because these engines are very capable, I just prefer reliability over having insane power. My first car was a Suzuki Swift with a quoted 92 bhp, and my current is a Toyota MR2 with 160 bhp. I've had to learn more stuff including maintenance, driving manual transmission, and handling a mid-engined car. If I had a turbo version that would just complicate things further. Driveability is very underrated and I'm glad that you've pointed this out.


OMG. I literary burst into laugh (laugh of joy) when i saw that RB under the hood. Shots are on point man. Keep it up, love your posts.


Ian Cormack Paddy McGrath iProGam3r 480 is loads... thats more than most cars on the road, then theres the price of fuel and longevity of a high horsepower car. btw your car is gourgeous


Now that's sexy! Not one for swaps but this one got my attention.


Would anybody mind enlightening me on what the two bucket method is?


Watch any of the AmmoNYC videos to see how to wash your car, and it will explain better.




More pics of the red Supra please.


Buick Man was just thinking that


Ian Cormack 
Ah, that makes a lot of sense. That same attention to detail really shows through in the finish of the car.
Hopefully I'll get a chance to pop down to another event in Mondello soon and have a nose around the car.


mk4 lew Buick Man I might have some pics of the supra dig them out later


the car was very good 
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