Back In Black: A Hakosuka Built The Old School Way
Keeping It Real

Right now, it feels like fixing up old cars is more popular than it’s ever been. If you take a walk around the SEMA Show or any other global auto event that focuses on modified and custom cars, you’re guaranteed to see lots of heavily modified vintage machinery.

Z-Car-Garage-161 copy

But how ‘vintage’ are these cars actually? Is a ’69 Camaro with advanced coil-over suspension, steam roller tires, giant brakes and a high-tech fuel injected engine under the hood actually a ’69 Camaro? Or is it just a modern car with an old body on top? With the exception of the basic body shape, there’s nothing really ‘old’ about those sort of cars.

Z-Car-Garage-179 copy

Don’t get me wrong, I love high-end restomod builds as much as anyone, but there’s always something to be said for the actual old cars. The ones with carburetors, small wheels and of course that lovely smell that only time can provide.

Z-Car-Garage-135 copy

And that brings me to a 1971 KGC10 Nissan Skyline owned by Gary Stephenson and built by our friends at Z Car Garage in San Jose. Gary, as you might remember, is also the owner of the OS Giken TC24 240Z we featured recently, as well as other several other Japanese performance cars.

Z-Car-Garage-168 copy

But the black Hakosuka you see here is all about the joy of driving; a unique and stylish automobile built purely in a 1970s style. Gary first started looking for a C10 chassis Skyline to bring to the US back in 2010, and he found this car in Japan in 2011.

Z-Car-Garage-7 copy

Like many Hakosukas that have been imported stateside, the Skyline was a good base car; slightly rough around the edges, but able to be improved upon without having to be completely rebuilt.

The Spirit of ‘L’
Z-Car-Garage-173 copy

Under the hood sat a well-used L28 engine with a triple carb setup. It made a respectable 160 horsepower to the wheels on the Z Car Garage dyno, but Gary wanted to improve the power output without foregoing the character and sound of the naturally aspirated L-series engine.

Z-Car-Garage-171 copy

The solution then was to fully rebuild the L-motor. Massaged by the engine masters at Rebello Racing, the inline six now displaces 3.1 liters and breathes through a trio of Solex Mikuni 44mm side-draft carburetors.

Z-Car-Garage-123 copy

There’s also a Fujitsubo FGK exhaust manifold and a full FGK exhaust system that gives the Skyline an absolutely beautiful sound; from the aggressive, lopey idle, to the intoxicating wail at full throttle as it’s joined by the sound of the carbs sucking air.

Z-Car-Garage-167 copy

On the dyno the new motor put down a very impressive 272 horsepower to the rear wheels along with 249 pound-foot of torque. That’s an improvement of over 100 horsepower from when the car first arrived from Japan.

Z-Car-Garage-166 copy

Elsewhere on the car you’ll find a set of Ground Control adjustable coilovers to keep the Skyline stiff and sitting nicely, and up front the guys have also fitted a set of the 4-piston brakes that were used on Skyline race cars of the ’70s era.

Z-Car-Garage-180 copy

The car came from Japan wearing a staggered set of 14-inch RS Watanabe wheels, and rather than swapping them out for something else, Gary had the wheels completely refinished in gray with polished lips. How can you not love that fat tire look?

Sketchy, In A Good Way
Z-Car-Garage-184 copy

As for the body, the Hakosuka remains largely as it was when it arrived from Japan. Soon after it got to California, the grille, bumpers, and other trim pieces were pulled off the car and re-chromed, and the engine bay was also cleaned up and simplified for better presentation.

Z-Car-Garage-178 copy

You certainly don’t see too many black Hakosuka Skylines out there; it has to be said that the hardtop body style looks great in the dark color with the subtle fenders and tires gently protruding from the wheel wells.

Z-Car-Garage-155 copy

Inside, the interior has also been refreshed but not fully restored. Most of the stuff was on the car when it arrived, including the lovely period steering wheel and set of old Clarion shelf speakers in the rear which Gary has restored to keep the vintage look.

Z-Car-Garage-144 copy

And don’t forget the overtly ’70s eight-track stereo system either, and the very fitting rock album that stays loaded at all times.

Z-Car-Garage-125 copy

Having a chance to go for a ride in the car, I can say that it’s absolutely great – and also a little sketchy. Sketchy in that special way that only old cars with a lot of power can be. It’s basically a Japanese hot rod.

Z-Car-Garage-175 copy

Sure, you could very easily set up the car with giant grippy tires and huge brakes like Gary’s S30 has, but there’s also something fun about feeling the little 14-inch tires break loose as the L-motor hits its power band, and then getting hard on the 1970s-era brake setup to bring it to a stop – all while the guy in the Prius next to you looks over in total confusion.

Z-Car-Garage-131 copy

Is this a perfect fully-restored Hakosuka, or a build that completely transforms a vintage Skyline into something more like a modern car? Nope. And it’s not supposed to be on either count.

Z-Car-Garage-183 copy

This a driver through and through, and a vehicle that reminds us just how fun, visceral – and yes, even sketchy – an old car can be.

Long live the old school.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media

Gary Stephenson’s 1971 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT

Max Power: 272rwhp, Max Torque: 249lb-ft

Rebello-built 3.1-liter Nissan L-series inline-six, triple Solex 44mm side-draft carberators, Fujitsubo FGK exhaust manifold, Fujitsubo FGK exhaust system, MSD coil

Nissan 5-speed manual gearbox, R180 LSD rear differential

Suspension & Brakes
Ground Control adjustable coilovers, front strut tower bar, Nissan MK63 front brake upgrade

Wheels & Tires
Refinished 14-inch RS Watanabe wheels, Bridgestone/BFGoodrich tires

Stock body, re-chromed grille, bumpers & trim, aftermarket front chin spoiler, rear spoiler, retrofitted H4 headlights

Reupholstered stock seats, Prince horn button, vintage Clarion shelf speakers, eight-track tape deck

More Skyline related stories on Speedhunters

Cutting Room Floor
Z-Car-Garage-128 copy
Z-Car-Garage-143 copy
Z-Car-Garage-130 copy
Z-Car-Garage-132 copy
Z-Car-Garage-159 copy
Z-Car-Garage-156 copy
Z-Car-Garage-141 copy


Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I can't attach my lower jaw..


Speedhunters Perfect.


ernie2492 I can't find mine...
Two epic builds! Just need to find hako's exhaust video...


Z Car Garage is killing me. The Hakosuka, Fairlady, and Roadster are all beautiful examples of perfect execution, and knowing there is a whole garage dedicated to doing just that for various Datsun and Nissan models is nothing short of heaven.
Thanks for hunting these guys Mike, it's been a real treat.


Speedhunters omg!


No video U0001f62dU0001f62dU0001f62d


Speedhunters perfect.
Proper old skool cool


Cmon man...just stop...


@FunkyChild ernie2492 Yes! Must find a video or even just an audio recording of the exhaust!


Just a fan of these guys :)
Here are a few videos of the hako from their webpage:

Mike you are a hero amongst Datsun-lovers world-wide, thank you. 

ps I see what you did there tying in the Back in Black them with 3 elements :)


just awesome.great built and keeping the soul alive


Sketchy fast is the best kind of fast! 

This is a little random but I always loved how this car looked windows down. Love coupe without a B Pillar


If I ever had a chance to build a Hakosuka, I think this is the route I would take. Beautiful machine!


omg this is done just how i like em


@FunkyChild ernie2492 WAY more than 2!  These are just Gary's.  They also built this one:  And their blog is full of awesome!


Beautiful! Long live the old school!


this build is the absolute epitome of how i build my car, i want to struggle to drive it some days, i want it to be hard to start on a cold morning, all these things and how cars used to be is being forgotten by everything electronic and turbo, this is to me how old cars should be built! Absolute perfection


Gorgeous car. I'm sad that CA changed their grey import laws that basically exclude any 1972 cars from being imported and registered. The existing grandfathered cars in CA are special!


What a perfection !


Absolute perfection!




How it should be done!!!!


There is a wrong alignment  on the rear right corner, may be this is a clue about an old accident . But I should have fix it in the first place if I had that car.


HiDef images are the only way I could see one of these beauties, we don't have any in the country. Thanks Mike! This owner did a great job. I can actually see how 'small' this car is.


^^^ seriously? All you can write? Enjoy your stamp collecting...


^^^^^ seriously? That's all you can come up with. Enjoy your stamp collecting...


Putextinguishersinit well first of all I build vintage cars also. I try to do all the work myself. Perfection is not a must if you are trying to build a track car , but on a car this much beautiful the imperfection can easily be seen. So have to be careful+the last bonus image makes it more and more visible. Test fitting the panels and fine tuning the lines takes too much time but regarding the time and work done on this car that rear right corner does not deserve that. Yes I am serious , that corner needs some tlc.


dr770 Putextinguishersinit DR770 - You are actually mistaken, that is the natural curvature of the rear panel under the decklid combined with the reflection of the chrome which is not a flat piece so it makes the body look dented inwards - it's not. The car is perfectly straight.


Chris Nuggets Could you elaborate? What is it about 72? I thought all pre 76 car were smog exempt and anything 25 years old could be imported and registered if it either passed smog or was pre 76.


Why the mismatched tires? That's one of my biggest peeves behind not using indicators.


shiftyXTI dr770 Putextinguishersinit No I am not takling about that. there is radius turning to the center line of the car  at the end on the read fender and that radius mates a fillet on the deck lid. at that point there is mismacth. if you look above picture where you can see the whole rear of the car, I belive you can catch the asymetry betwwen 2 rear corners. Concentrate on the deck lid corner line mating with the fenders.


TylerHorne 14in tires, especially mildy decent ones are the most available. Especially if you are trying to get 225/60/14 in the back and 205/60/14 in the front (I think that's what they are), the options aren't great for decent tires. It's not like buying normal 225/45/17 or something like that where you have a wide variety.


What a great write up and photos!  And the video @SW1 posted below...OMG...


Are those windows lightly tinted blue? (didnt read the article dont yell at me)


dr770 shiftyXTI Putextinguishersinit If your talking about the last picture before the bonus pictures, then your completely wrong dude lol. The wheel is just turned for the picture.


CharlesChris15 dr770 shiftyXTI Putextinguishersinit I do agree with dr770 on this one.


ollitei CharlesChris15 dr770 shiftyXTI Putextinguishersinit

that misalignment looks more like the rubber stopper on the boot lid needs to be wound out to raise that corner of the boot... not an accident in my opinion... not that it maters anyway pretty Gnarly Build Love these dudes for these kind of builds!! 
so much fun to read, Cheers


@Dub Toffee ollitei CharlesChris15 dr770 shiftyXTI Putextinguishersinit That can be the rubber stopperbut not %100 sure


ollitei CharlesChris15 dr770 shiftyXTI Putextinguishersinit that was what I was takling about exactly.


TylerHorne  as long as matched on axle it's kool. + some cars actually suit different brands front/rear - the different characteristics used as a way of adjusting handling/road holding to suit your driving


RacingPast The size of a Hakosuka is pretty deceiving until you see one person.


Chris Nuggets I think anything '75 and older is doable. It's after that when you start having to deal with the CARB BS.


IRONWOLF RD Glad you've liked it. I'll be back there soon for more!


dr770 Putextinguishersinit I think it's probably just the rubber seal for the trunklid perished or stops perished or need adjusting - I see this a lot on older cars.  You've a keen eye to spot that and in theory you could be right but I think the guys at Z-Car Garage would have paid careful attention to things like that - looking at various cars they have built and worked on they have a really great attention to detail so hopefully it's fine :)


Beautiful with just enough patina to not feel any guilt in taking it out for a drive at any time. Where's the vid?


Slappy_Pistons dr770 Putextinguishersinit Ok I know its fine, the build is georgeus, and wish they replace the rubber stopper before next photo shoot :)


Im so glad that  he didnt do an engine swap because doing so will ruin the character of the actual car.
Swapping an engine is like putting one person's soul into the body of an other.


160hp stock? I call BS.


CharlesChris15 I have a '76 Celica GT and the windows are tinted blue.


I love the hakosuka!  My favorite classic car! Nice one Mike it's mint


John Key NZ
"Under the hood sat a well-used L28 engine with a triple carb setup. It made a respectable 160 horsepower to the wheels on the Z Car Garage dyno"

Not stock.


FormulaOneWorld asuka2246


KEBAMETAL FormulaOneWorld
かっこよす! o(^▽^)o


John Key NZ Why? That's what the L26 and L28 produced stock at the crank: 

People have gotten 200hp at the crank which is 165hp at the wheels approximately with bolt-ons and a mild cam for decades, really nothing spectacular there.


Anyone know what the blue pouch in the Engine Bay is behind the passenger strut tower next to the 2 intakes by the firewall?! Photo 10/28


shiftyXTI Washer fluid pouch


Yes GT windows have slight blue tint to them. GTR is clear


the car was very good 
really really like to see the car that shiny new car fits like made ​​for walking trailsthe car was very good" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> and very fast" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> mix of colors" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> from which to" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> make want pobud see hatnya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> kecepatanya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> was very nice ," rel="dofollow" target="_blank">  suitable for a "" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> sharp bend or not sharp I guess motorists like this is" very skilled in the speed I hope I can membilinya someday will whether there are new cars are better I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> 'll wait for it , with a stylish car classic" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> style I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> also like" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> to see would be whether there is a" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> car that is as fast and forius like in the " movie , the car very good car designed a way apparently hopefully there will be new cars more good and the price is quite pantastis then chances are I can membilinya the same as you have at this time

Vencislav Georgiev

goals on steroids