No matter where we are are from, we all know it’s common for celebrities to own cool and interesting cars.
It’s pretty much always been this way too. Whether it’s an actor, musician or an athlete, the garages of their mansions are often filled with high-end vehicles to match. Anyone who has watched an old episode of MTV Cribs can vouch for that.
But to me there’s always been a big difference between the real car lovers and the celebrities who just buy exotic and expensive vehicles because it’s the cool thing to do – or simply because they can afford it. They might own the flashy machinery, but how many truly appreciate them from an automotive standpoint?
That’s why I’ve always had a lot of respect for the celebrities that are genuine car enthusiasts; the people that spend a good part of their off time, building, driving, collecting and racing automobiles. A few names that come to mind are Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfield, Adam Carolla and Patrick Dempsey. For all of them, cars represent something more than just a way to spend their earnings.
The late Paul Walker is another celebrity who was a legitimate car guy, and his love for cars added another dimension to his on-screen persona in the Fast and Furious franchise. But Paul wasn’t the only member of the Fast and Furious cast whose gear-head life continued outside the movie set.
Sung Kang, the actor who portrays Han in the series, is also a serious auto enthusiast, and the world became well aware of that last fall when his 1973 Datsun 240Z better known as FuguZ made its debut at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Built in partnership with the team at GReddy USA, FuguZ puts a new spin on an iconic Japanese sports car. And it’s a car that developed from a simple project among a group of friends to something much bigger and with more impact.
Already being a Porsche owner, Sung originally had his eye on an early 911 to build as a project to enjoy on the street and the track. But with demand and prices for old 911s at an all-time high, he decided to switch his focus to another car that would deliver the same nostalgic feelings in a more project-friendly package. A friend suggested the early 1970s Datsun 240Z; a car which many people of Sung’s generation have fond memories of. It sounded like the perfect choice.
Sung found a solid ’73 Z for sale in the California desert; a driver with a straight body that would serve as a perfect base to be built whichever way he saw fit. Originally his plans called for a mild project that would simply refresh the old car rather than completely transform it, but as others caught wind of the project on social media, the build quickly grew in scope.
Things really began to take off when Sung took an interest in Kei Miura’s upcoming Rocket Bunny wide-body kit for the Z. That’s when Rocket Bunny distributor GReddy USA reached out to Sung, and before long plans were made for the whole build to be undertaken at GReddy’s facility in Orange County.
And after months of planning and many late nights at the shop, the FuguZ rolled out last fall just in time for its SEMA debut. While it wasn’t planned that way from the beginning, Sung’s Z had attracted the attention of the world, winning several awards and creating a huge buzz across social media.Familiar, But Different
If there’s a unifying theme to the Z, it’s ‘familiar, but different’. The car is immediately identifiable as the iconic 240Z, but there are new twists on everything from the fully reinforced chassis to the modern body kit, which draws inspiration from the competition S30s of the mid 1970s.
The theme continues under the hood, where you’ll find a naturally aspirated Nissan inline-six just like the car originally had. Only rather than the SOHC L24 that powered the Z when it was new, it now has a DOHC, fuel injected, naturally aspirated ‘RB26DE’. Although this engine configuration was available in the JDM R32 Autech Skyline, the N/A RB26 you see here was created from an RB26DETT GT-R donor motor.
The RB has been fully rebuilt with high compression pistons, a ported head and a set of individual throttle bodies that not only improve response, but give the Datsun a traditionally cool look and sound. The gearbox is a 5-speed manual which feeds power to an OS Giken LSD mounted in an R200 differential.
The Z puts down 220 horsepower to the wheels and makes joyous noises as the tach swings toward 9,000rpm. It’s certainly not the fastest S30 in the world, but most would agree it has the perfect amount of power to truly enjoy the car. And it’s just as happy cruising on the street as it is being flogged on the track.
In addition to the chassis strengthening that occurred during the rebuild, the car was also treated to a custom fabricated rollcage. And as for the suspension, a set of fully adjustable coilovers from Techno Toy Tuning help keep the Datsun grounded in the corners and sitting mean.
As mentioned a moment ago, the new Rocket Bunny wide-body kit is one of the defining aspects of the build, and the car wears Mr. Miura’s aggressive kit with style. Coated in an original shade of Datsun white, the Z looks aggressive in that ’70s race car way, yet elegant at the same time.
And with the Rocket Bunny kit being such an integral part of the project, the wheels that would sit inside the wide-body fenders were also important. And what better choice than a set of 17-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37V SLs – a wheel which just like the FuguZ draws its inspiration from the past, while also exhibiting the utmost in modern engineering.
The simple retro-meets-modern theme continues to the Datsun’s cockpit, which mixes contemporary race car with lots of classic style. Dubai’s CarbonSignal Automotive provided the parts for the fully custom interior, including the dash, door panels and lovely low-back bucket seats.
I also quite like how they kept the factory wood-rimmed 240Z steering wheel which is fitted with a custom FuguZ horn button to match the other badging on the car.
For Sung, the FuguZ journey has been about a whole lot more than just adding another cool car to his garage. The project has allowed him to meet and connect with people from all over the world, and the built-from-scratch Datsun is something that’s provided him with the kind of satisfaction that you just can’t get from a store-bought supercar.
Wrenching, hanging out with friends and building something cool; that’s something that all of us car lovers can relate to, even if we don’t happen to be stars of the silver screen.
Photos by Larry Chen
Sung Kang’s 1973 Datsun 240Z FuguZ built by GReddy
Nissan RB26DE engine swap tuned by GReddy, high compression pistons, upgraded rods, ported head, custom individual throttle bodies, AEM engine management system
Nissan 5-speed manual transmission, OS Giken clutch, R200 differential, OS Giken LSD
Fully reinforced chassis, Techno Toy Tuning adjustable coilovers, Wilwood 4-wheel disc brakes
17-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37V SL forged wheels, Nitto NT01 tires
Fully restored, Rocket Bunny wide-body kit, custom fender mirrors, Kilimanjaro White paint job & body work by Signature Auto Body, custom ‘FuguZ’ badging
Full custom roll-cage by GReddy, custom CarbonSignal dash, door panels, bucket seats, Takata harnesses
Really digging this build! Great photos and coverage, and lots of respect to Sung for letting the project take it's own path, I'd say the results are pretty incredible! Side profile of the car is just plain awesome.
Great Photos Larry - Did you get Ole Orange bang out to joint in for a drive?
Great writing too Mike. There's been a lot of talk and interviews about this car but it was cool to see your take on it and not getting too hung up on the celebrity bit. I liked the focus on the fact he's just a car guy.
The fuguZ is really well executed too. I'd love to hear the sound of that NA RB winding out :) Whilst having turbo power is cool I love nothing more than having something moderately powered that you can wind out on the tacho - no better feeling :)
Thanks for sharing guys!
@day_old_tofu Not this time. My 240z is not a very good media vehicle. Maybe someday soon. I did get to drive the FuguZ though, that was so much fun.
Good choice keeping the RB26 turbo-less, otherwise that chassis would be WAY to squirrely in the turns.
Just curious how that stock steering wheel feels nowadays where most cars have beefed up the grips.
@kderentz It says in the specs. GReddy
@Selfdestroyer I read about this car. Its total crazy build. Love it
@Bima Leksono It's already available in HD, just open 'Presentation Mode' on the second image in the story and navigate back to it, click 'Download Wallpaper' et voilá!
@miksfield Thanks for the kind words. That means a lot.
@miksfield sir, you`ve just read my mind )
Another beautiful Z!!! You guys are on a role right now!!! Bravo :)
SH should gather all these Z's recently featured together for a "race", just for the fun of it! Maybe do some sort of shoot-out with a couple different comps like they do in the magazines.
Not sure if there would really be a point to it, but it could make for some amazing photos and videos!
Now we just need @speedhunters_dino to track down the original Akuma Zeto :P
@Paddy McGrath In my pants.
@agada Common practice when stitch welding a chassis. Very similar improvement in chassis rigidity compared to full seem welding, but allows for repairs and puts less heat (potential warping) into the metal.
@Verdigrie I see its stitch welded. I know the pros/cons. But look at the plate were the rollcage is mounted. That is not stitched? They don't look that good.
I really like this, I just hate that its stripped out. It seems unnecessary, and dare I say it is only because it was one less thing to worry about.
I've gone round and round on this car. I don't think I've ever been so in love/hate/love/hate with a car ever. In defending it from the people crying about it being a mega budget build to feeling like "yes, this does pander to the crowd" I finally figured out why there's so much emotion involved on all side.
It's because even with the professional help from Greddy USA it does convey the fact that it's a car for people. Sung and his friends will get to enjoy this on track which they wanted right from the start. Sung named it and will drive it and probably love it more than any of us will ever realize.
Allow me to get a little emotional here. After the world lost Paul Walker, I think a lot of car guys (even if they won't admit it) felt lost. This car belonging to Sung ties it to the F&F franchise whether it ends up in a movie or not. Car people feel that, and they don't know how to react, so they gush in adoration or abhorrence.
I've lost where I was going with this so I'll say, thank you Sung for stepping into the light and giving us another high profile friend of the car. We appreciate it.
This car looks horrible. One of the worst Z's i've ever seen. Lets be honest, if this car would have another owner no one would care about it.
@JJ7V I don't care who owns it. It looks great and is setup not far from what I would like. But taste varies from person to person.
@JJ7V i'm no great fan of the rocket bunny kit - but look at that beautiful interior and engine! I'd care about it if it were your car or anybody elses whom i don't know.
@JJ7V Any logic behind this? or is this just a random opinion based off of solely first impressions and no deeper thought.
I feel bad for Sung - he wanted a project for he and his friends and the industry jumped on and took over. I am a nice guy... so I will graciously trade him my stock S30 for his FuguZ in hopes he may once again attempt to do what average people do. Car looks great and dat azz... he must work out.
Tc24 head on top of a built Bored L-Series to 3.1L ,Would've made the most sense on this car. Maybe the extra 100hp and about same rev limit would've have been too much fun?
@RBPS13 It's a big-budget build for sure, but not "lets find one-of-nine (if one is possibly for sale) of the rarest engines ever built" budget. Besides, they just featured a different Z with one.
Funny story is they put them back in production if people are willing to pay for it hence the osgiken black 240 sporting one and another green 240z had the tc24,head also in the last couple years but 220hp is wea for a high comp 2.6 wouldve at least but a rb30 in there even with a carb'd Lseries 3.1 it would of made 300whp.....
Its a great car I'm sure, and as long as its everything he wanted and he's happy its all good, but something about this car isn't right, its just missing something in the looks department, I don't like the front or rear, the whole thing is just missing some sort of cohesiveness...
@maxvr6 I think a part of it is the color, or lack thereof. It kinda looks bland, despite having really nice and wild lines.
My only kind of initial disappointment about this build was when I saw the first interview with Sung and he had mentioned that this was meant to be a project for him and his friends, as a healthy way to bond and as he put it "get out of the house for a while". The involvement of all the bigwigs certainly comes as no surprise once this hit social media, and the car was done before you know it just in time for SEMA. In the end, it felt much more than a company showcase than a garage-time earned project of a group of friends. While I grieve the loss of that ideal, they did come up with a really clean build full of subtle character.
The Bunny kit took me a while to warm up to, mostly because of the flat-faced area of the bumper proceding the front treads, but as a whole I am coming to really enjoy it. The S30 and RB combination is a bit of a match made in heaven, and especially with the NA route giving it the perfect balance of enjoyability on the road, I'm certainly in the stable of "less is more" in this case.
Its a nice clean build and its clear that a ton of work was put into it. despite being a huge fan of the 240 I just don't like it I cant hate but the rocket bunny kit just doesn't do it for me.
Great build, but that power output leaves a little to be desired! Guess the RB26 doesn't really take well to an N/A build.
From a driveability standpoint, and a track day standpoint, 220hp is probably more than enough for a car that weighs around 1000kg. On a twisty mountain road, you don't need gobs of power. It's much more fun to push what limited power you have right to the edge, and really work the clutch and transmission to get the most out of the motor, as opposed to being sit in 3rd or 4th gear and never go to full throttle.
@Twitch_6 Exactly. I couldn't have said better myself.
@Twitch_6 Excellent response Twitch_6. I have driven a 70 Z on extremely curvy coast Highway One for over 30 years and learned that this car has a wonderful balance of weight, engine and transmission. When you learn to drive this car and properly clutch this transmission (4 speed) and wind the engine in and out of the turns you have a car that can beat the pants off of heavier large engine cars in a curvy highway situation. I have out performed heavier cars, several that simply lost it totally on the turns. Once you have hand and foot control of this car it is simply a a DREAM to drive! Pure fun in a beautiful form.