Old School Cool: Bringing A C110 Back To Life
Full Circle

A gigantic storm races towards us, but for now the thunder is provided by the very angry and lumpy L28 sitting centimetres in front. We’re tearing down deserted country lanes with petrol fumes, amazing views and the unmistakable cool feeling that cruising in an older and less refined machine brings.

Yep, we’re living the dream today. Views, sounds, smells and old school cool feels. Sounds perfect right? How could you improve on a Sunday Speedhunting session like this? By hunting in a pack, with one of your closest mates, of course!


I met Brad, the owner of this immaculate C110 by sharing car magazines in the classroom over 15 years ago. He was new to town, but with a shared love of cars, mainly imports at the time, we were buddies in no time at all.


Like the rest of us, Brad was always a bit of a dreamer with no shortage of ambitious plans for the cars he’d build in the future. Only now, equipped with 15 years of hindsight, it turns out that he was committed and more of an achiever than a dreamer.


That’s what makes this story so special. Both of our respective and very different journeys within the automotive community have come full circle, and we get to once again be poring over car stories together. Except this time we’re working together to share Brad’s story with the next generation of rev-heads, who should be paying attention in class instead of reading this article right now.

Six Long Years

At the time of inception, circa 2010, there were almost no C110 builds on the streets in Australia. I’d wager that even the majority of JDM fans wouldn’t have had a clue who Ken or Mary were, or why they were in a GT-R. I’d certainly never seen one in the wild.

This was never going to be an easy project to complete, but that was part of what made the idea so appealing. With C110s being so rare down under, Brad was basically on his own. He was armed with only a handful of images from Japan and a clear idea of the final goal. How he was going to achieve that goal was going to be interesting.

It took nearly 12 months of browsing auctions, wrecking yards and classified sites to find the right chassis to start with. Eventually, he came across an old 1974 Datsun 240K coupe.

Although it was essentially a parts car it, had a straight chassis and almost no rust. It was going to require some panel work and replacements, and some glass which proved to be more difficult to source than you’d think. But overall it was a great platform to get started with.


Brad’s previous project was a power-focused R32 Skyline GT-R called ‘FEAR’ that pumped out close to 500hp at all four wheels. It was a monster for its day. This time around though, he wanted to take a build in a completely different direction. Instead of chasing power, this adventure was all about chasing authenticity.


The slow nature of hunting for rare parts in other countries saw the chassis hibernate in the garage for a couple of years. But good things come to those who wait and the extra time ensured the project would be built properly on the first go. Slowly, piece by piece and panel by panel, Brad and a good circle of mates did the prep work to transform a rough Australian-delivered 240K to what it is now.

I was fortunate enough to witness the entire process and even get my own hands dirty during the transformation (probably not as often as I should have though). Every few weekends, a small group of good mates would hide behind the very vague excuse ‘I’m helping Brad’, escaping real life obligations to talk sh*t, hang out and occasionally do some more prep work on the C110 for a few hours at a time.

The first task involved stripping the entire car back to a bare chassis. Literally everything except the suspension was removed at this point.


This is when the original engine was removed and pulled apart for assessment. The good news was that the stock L24 was in very, very bad condition and would require a full rebuild. I say ‘good’ news because it just made throwing the whole block in the bin a whole lot easier.

The ultimate engine replacement would have been the S20, which the original Kenmeri GT-R was fitted with, but finding one proved almost impossible and completely uneconomical. As an example, an S20 engine was found selling for USD$50,000, and that’s without replacement parts.


The more viable option was to find a larger L28. The L series is still true to the C110 model and the larger displacement would yield some extra power – especially with a bit of extra work and a refresh. A suitable replacement was found not to far from home and torn down as soon as it hit the garage. The block was bathed, cleaned and every component was assessed from top to bottom. Anything that looked to be worn was replaced or rebuilt.

A set of six high compression forged pistons provided the basis of the build, and the cylinder head was ported and polished while everything was stripped back. A more aggressive stage 2 camshaft was fitted up to give the engine a super lumpy idle and more grumble the entire way through the rev range.

The convenience of electronic injection was never an option for this build. Instead, a set of triple Weber 45 DCOE carburettors hang off a Redline inlet manifold. While the old school carbs might be harder to dial in and adjust, they give the engine that burble and pop you lose with the precision of electronic injection. They’re not horrible to look at when you open the hood either.


The ignition is the only part of the engine setup that’s receive some new tech, a Scorcher electronic distributor replacing the standard points system. It wasn’t a part of the original plan, but Brad had issues setting up the points and deemed the ignition timing too important to leave almost completely to chance.

The exhaust is a pretty simple setup – a custom set of tuned-length extractors running into a 2.25-inch straight pipe exhaust with a single muffler. Fortunately, the car gave out a super sweet note first go.


During dyno tuning, 190hp was recorded at the rear wheels. While that number alone isn’t mind blowing, I can tell you first-hand there’s still enough power to give you a real buzz while driving, mainly because the chassis only weighs in at 1,100kg and the car steers like a truck. You throw this recipe on a twisty road and it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself.


The power is transferred to the ground through a 5-speed gearbox ripped out of an Aussie-delivered R31 Skyline. The R31 box is famous down here in Australia for being almost unbreakable and totally capable of withstanding an absolute flogging.


Luckily, the C110’s interior was in amazing condition and not a lot of work was needed. After a good clean the seats came up looking brand new, and new carpets and a few other replacement items from Japan added the final touches. The brushed aluminium cluster surround replicates that of the original GT-R. It’s clean, neat and subtle.

Some of the original Datsun and 240K placards were left intentionally as a reminder of where the project began. The music and in-car entertainment is provided by the L28 and two windows. Climate control is as simple as wearing more clothes in winter and less in summer.

The Finishing Touches

Very slowly, Brad sourced the finishing touches for the exterior from Yahoo! Japan and a few other import parts suppliers. You’d think that it’d be fair easy, right? Well, only 197 KPGC110 GT-Rs were ever sold and all in Japan, so finding the right parts meant checking frequently and also required a little bit of luck. Even though it was one of the most frustrating aspects of the build it was also one of the most rewarding. Every decal, tail light and badge felt like hitting the jackpot. All the chrome trim was replaced, and those last few parts that were impossible to find were sent off to be repaired.

A darker tint of paint than you’d normally see on a Kenmeri in Japan was applied during the car’s bare metal respray. It looks like a custom colour, but it’s actually the same Pewter Silver found on the S15 Silvia. Standard glossy black coats the flares, front mirrors, rear louver and front GT-R grille.


The C110 sits 55mm lower at the front and 60mm lower at the rear thanks to a set of lowered springs; the ride remains comfortable and it handles well enough during spirited driving. Currently, the plan is to keep the C110 as a street cruiser and away from the track, but anyone who knows the owner will be able to tell you the car is almost guaranteed to eventually see itself out on the circuit. Brad has already worked out how to best customise under the car to fit suitable coilovers, you know, just in case…


There was only ever one wheel that could finish the car off, and the simple but beautiful design of the RS Watanabe 8-spoke must have been burnt into the mind of every Japanese car designer of the era. Perfect is a huge call, but that’s what they are for almost any car from that golden age of Japanese motoring.


Originally, a set of 17-inch rims were test-fitted, but the larger rims destroyed that old school charm and were replaced with 16-inch R Type equivalents – 8.5-inch wide in the front and 9.5-inch wide in the rear. It’s amazing what a single inch can do to the profile of a car!

The Reward

The journey was long, some of it fun, some of it frustrating. The question now is, was it all worth it? When I asked I just got laughed at while Brad kicked it back into second gear. The engine roared through our open windows and I had my answer.

Like all good things that take time, the Kenmeri GT-R replica was more than worth it. That feeling of freedom and the vibe of old school cool are both priceless in themselves. The long term commitment, every dollar and every year spent was a wise investment into something that money usually can’t buy.

Like all projects of this scale, there was a team of dedicated individuals working together to create something great. Brad would like to thank his friends and family for their support, getting their hands dirty and looking for parts. It simply wouldn’t have happened otherwise. He’d also like to thank the C110 online community for helping out along the way.


I wonder if those kids reading car magazines instead of paying attention in class would believe you if you could travel back in time and tell them that one day they’d have the opportunity to showcase their hard work, dedication and love of machinery internationally through Speedhunters? I know I probably would have laughed and dismissed the notion. Brad on the other hand would have probably just shrugged casually and said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ He’s always been good like that.

As an added bonus, I tracked down the original television commercial that gave the C110 its Kenmeri moniker. The car is named after the happy and adventurous couple Ken and Mary who featured in the ad campaigns.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: Matthew_Everingham

Cutting Room Floor


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Mint! Personally, I think this is the best car on Speedhunters recently. It's also so similar to how I would build a car, and it's inspired me for my own future projects, whatever they may be.


If only we knew how valuable these cars were back in the day. My dad owned one of these as well as a 240Z in the 80's and sold them for nothing, and now they are 50 grand cars


My Uncle Hudson just got a twelve month old Porsche by working parttime from a home pc. see it here========http://tinyurl.com/easyjobss5


Ever notice how in terms of appearance, position within the car world and reverence show to it, the C110 seems to be the equivalent of the '68 Charger?


Picture 34 though.
They never get as much love as the Hako's, but I don't know why, the body and light just flow so right!
Lovely car, well done!


What an amazing car! 
And that first picture after the opening shoot


ryukyustriker God, what beautifully elegant and clean engine. I love I-6s, especially old ones converted to fuel injection.


Friends KGC10 GTR Skyline. Fuel injection, direct ignition system, haltec management system. Oh and has A/C


ryukyustriker And a properly-insulated floor. Well done.


Look at this awesome trick. Jenvey Dynamics made fuel injection system to look like old school solex carbs. Keep classic look but new technology. Incredible!


Same friend also has a S30 Fairlady Z with RB26 GTR engine, independent rear suspension and too much other things to list. Dream cars


It's true! Japan lives American cars. They took styling notes from many American cars. Their are soo many old school cars that have good body lines that they saw from 60's and 70's cars. Hell their 50's cars looked like American cars as well but smaller. Unlike what people say Japan loves America


ryukyustriker Yeah, I think Dino shot a picture of a '59 Eldorado at some Cars & Coffee meet in Tokyo for one of his articles. 

I can't remember if the owner was an Elvis impersonator but God, I hope so!


ryukyustriker Stop, you're killin' me...


When Japanese get excited about cars and bikes they are all out. Custom Harley's , lowriders, hotrods you name it. Hell they bought mooneyes in Japan. You should see this ultra trick horrid in speed hunters called the galaxian.


This is just the tip of the ice berg for cars I have seen in Japan


My Uncle Carson recently got a nine month old Nissan Murano SUV only from working part-time off a


Ice Age ryukyustriker My Uncle Carson recently got a nine month old Nissan Murano SUV only from working part-time off a 



you tease us with such a car and how it sounds but deny us a video of how its sounds? come on, i need to know how this engine sounds like any one have a link to a video of this car?


ciliharaw Ice Age ryukyustriker Hey Moderator, can we do something about the work-from-home scams that seem to be popping up left and right in the comments sections?


ryukyustriker Those are going to sell like crazy I think.  It's about time someone did a really great vintage-look fuel injection system for sidedrafts.

It looks like initial pricing will be $1100 USD for a four cylinder setup, including injectors and throttle position sensor.  Not bad considering the end result.


Am I jealous of the owner....hell yeah!


The inspiration that the Japanese took from American muscle cars is uncanny! But it's the way that they nailed the proper proportions of the car, that's what I marvel at quite often. I'd love for there to be an event where the American cars from the 60's and 70's, shared space with the Japanese cars that were inspired by their design


my Aunty Gabriella recently got Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon just by part-time work from a macbook. Read Full Article


What a car!! a true piece of automobile history to hang onto, he must be wrapped with these photos too. Nice work!!


Ice Age The C110 certainly does takes styling cues from U.S Muscle. It does look like a baby charger.


Agent712 I'll pass on your kind words to the owner :)


I still remember seeing my first C110 as a kid here in New Zealand. I decided the reverse slope on the C-pillar was ugly and put the whole car in the "dislike" category. Thirty-odd years later it's really grown on me, and I'll give myself a fairly decent upper cut for not appreciating them all these years. Fantastic work.


CJC_Matty I'm the same. I remember these being fairly common (the 240k) while I was in school, and pretty cheap too. But I always thought they were ugly, and no teenager wanted to drive a crapped out old datsun. Amazing what a few years and a since found appreciation for all kinds of classic japanese cars can do for a person. Would have a hard time finding a 240k now for a few hundred bucks....


Really nice build. But it is not a GT-R, or even a GT-R replica for the obvious S20 reason. The badges just scream fake wannabe.
Get some GT-Kai badges, ditch the wheel caps, and the oji-san JAF, and it would easy be one of the best Kenmeri outside of Japan.


Great article, although one paragraph had me scratching my head:
"The power is transferred to the ground through a 5-speed gearbox ripped
out of an Aussie-delivered R31 Skyline. The R31 box is famous down here
in Australia for being almost unbreakable and totally capable of
withstanding an absolute flogging."
As an owner of a series 3 R31,
not sure what you're talking about there. The RB30E manual is the almost the same
as RB20 (including turbo, R31 boxes have single synchros, series 3 and R32s have double in 1st and 2nd IIRC). The VL turbo box is similar to R33 turbo (apart from synchro count on 1st and 2nd gears),
which is almost the same as RB26 box.


I think your right about the badges, the GTR badge is not even period correct. Maybe one day I will have a custom Kenmeri badge made in a C10 skyline style. Not sure about JAF badge tho, I think the grill looks to bare without some badges.


"Every few weekends, a small group of good mates would hide behind the very vague excuse ‘I’m helping Brad’, escaping real life obligations to talk sh*t, hang out and occasionally do some more prep work on the C110 for a few hours at a time."
Perfectly captures the spirit of "home built" vibe and great frienship!
I'd personally go with 15" wheels and meatier tyres combo though.


Saw this rolling through St.Marys the other week... I just thought I was imagining things.
Very nice ride in person too.


@Kuroneko Please show us pictures of your less "fake wannabe" C110.


Brad warner  A good contact has a real Kenmeri GT-R and your badges look pretty period legit to me. The GT-kai stuff is readily available though on Yafuoku.

As to the JAF member, while the subscription plaque is oji-san, a JAF F1 GP from `73 or `74 is a whole lot less so, and would fill that gap? Pricey though at AUD300 or more I guess. Also on Yafuoku periodically.

While you`re there, get some genuine RS Watanabe wheel nuts too? They bear down on the soft alloy with an integrated flange washer, saving wear on the lug nut face. They look pretty neat with the logo too. Available in black too!


Shaunock  Certainly! Here`s a series, including a real C110 GT-R:


There`s a lot more S20 goodness there too, including a few Z432 and Z432R, Hako GT-R, and even a GT-B (R) S54 twin-cam for the real Nissan GT-R otaku.

We`re off again in a few weeks with Hako and Kenmeri GT-Rs, and even a Michelotti Skyline, so recent follow-ups to come as well...


Shaunock  http://carsonfilm.tumblr.com/post/133679314593/nissan-s20-hakosuka-gt-r-yokohama

... thus equipped with one of these makes a GT-R, or even a GT-R replica. Putting the front side repeaters on not back-to-front would also help a smidge...


When building a car do things you like or what's the point right? You think i don't know about the repeaters? There are plenty of "replicas" in Japan without S20s a real GTR would be nice tho. Maybe I will put 20s on my GT-B too... lol


Dunno. 'Armed with only a few images from Japan', I guessed not. Glad you do. I was trying to be helpful.
Notably as there are no other neko-me clues...


Shaunock I too would like to see some pictures of Kuroneko's own expert build...


I'm startled that some people able to earn $7243 in four weeks on the computer


My Uncle Anthony got a superb BMW X6 SUV just by some part-time working online at home... See it here====http://fave.co/2cZolmIᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ


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than your own.

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lofoyixa Big deal. My Uncle Jack bought a Porsche because he has a gold-plated retirement package from the state of New Jersey.


my Aunty Sophie recently got an awesome white Acura RLX just by some parttime working


Total win! This is so awesome car!
And I love the writing too. And Im totaly glad that Speedhunters know to feature cars with les than 1500HP.
But there is always that "yeah it does not sound a lot but it goes nice" in every feature with less than 400HP


my step dad recently purchased a nine month old Ford Mustang Coupe just by some parttime working online with a cheap laptop. read more http://tinyurl.com/dailyjobs04


My Uncle Chase got a very nice Mercedes GLA-Class SUV just by working online with a cheap laptop... 


as Stephanie answered I didn't even know that any one able to make $6899 in four weeks on the computer .