The Purist’s Fairlady Z
Perfected By Time

What is it about the S30 Datsun Fairlady Z that lures us in whenever we find ourselves in its presence?

The ’70s styling is so simple and has withstood the test of time. Its elegance has become a breath of fresh air amongst the more lacklustre appearances of modern-era automobiles.

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Could it be the fact that the S30 was the beginning of the Z-car legacy that makes it so desirable?

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Or could it be the ‘no frills’ sports car that the S30 embodies? The simplicity of having only a naturally aspirated engine singing through carburetors with power being transmitted to the rear wheels, and the novelty of three pedals to play with make the S30 one of the most highly sought after Japanese classic cars for enthusiasts today.

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While attending Z-Fest at Nissan’s Oppama Grandrive proving grounds near Yokohama last month, I made a point to find an S30 to spotlight, and hopefully get the owners perspective on why they bought one. After watching (and hearing) Sato Tatsuya’s 1975 Z during the demonstration session, I knew I had found my car.

As an added bonus, when I approached Sato-san about photographing his car, he happily told me he was a fan of Speedhunters and would love to do a shoot outside of the event where I could really spend some quality time with it.

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With my arm being twisted, I agreed.

Playing At The Docks
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A few weeks later, just as StanceNation Japan G Edition was getting into the swing of things, I found myself not queuing up in a massive line to get into that event, but rather standing near one of the loading docks outside of Daikokufuto Parking Lot staring at one of the most beautiful S30s that I’ve come across in a long time – or perhaps ever.

Sato-san has owned the S30 since the early ’90s after he discovered it in a used car lot. At the time the Z was blue, and the combination of the paint scheme and exterior styling stood out, forcing his hand to buy it.

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Since then, besides changing the paint, Sato-san has been slowly modifying and restoring to S30 into the beautiful creation you see today.

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He admits that he could have completed everything within the space of a year, however he was more focused on simply driving and only decided to upgrade components as they wore out.

One aspect that Sato-san didn’t want to radically alter was the Datsun’s exterior appearance, hence his restraint. A touch of carbon fiber in the form of the front splitter, and a small rear ducktail spoiler only enhance the S30’s classic lines.

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Works-style overfenders are always a nice addition for a bit of added aggression, and here they ensure the limited edition model 17-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37V BA (Black Anodized) wheels sit flush for the perfect fitment.

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Endless calipers and 2-piece drilled rotors front and rear provide the essential braking force needed to scrub off the extra speed the monster lurking underneath the hood can create.

The Art Of The Obsessed
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When it came time to allocate his resources to the engine department, Sato-san went all in. The engine needed to be something truly remarkable, and something he could really lean on and enjoy on spirited drives.

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A look under the hood reveals the star of the show: the legendary OS Giken TC24-B1Z twin-cam cylinder head designed for the L-series engine.

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Essentially, the engine started life as 2.8-liter L28, but it’s far from that specification now. Inside, OS Giken supplied a TC24 full-counter crankshaft, forged connecting rods and pistons, reinforcement plates for the crankcase, and of course the twin-cam head.

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With its larger 3.4-liter displacement, having adequate airflow is a must, and helping in that respect is a unique solution. Fitting snugly in the bay and providing air to quad throttle bodies on a OS Giken manifold is a carbon fiber air intake borrowed from a Lamborghini engine. When I asked why he decided to go with something as extreme as a carbon intake from a Lamborghini, Sato-san simply smiled and told me is was functional and fit – so why not?

The byproduct of the combustion cycle is dumped down a titanium exhaust system, while a MoTeC ECU acts as the brain of the package and keeps everything performing at maximum performance and efficiency. It all adds up to a little over 400 horsepower to the rear tires with an engine that responds and revs beautifully.

This clip of OS Giken’s own development car on the dyno should give you a taste of what Sato-san gets to experience in his car.

The original transmission has been done away with, in its place a Nismo-spec 6-speed from a Silvia S15 providing the necessary reinforcement and ratios to make the most of the engine’s powerband.

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A glance at the interior and you quickly notice that the same level of obsession seen in the engine bay can be found here too. The entire car has been stripped to save weight, and only a carbon fiber dash with the bare essentials remain. That means no heater either, although the exposed transmission tunnel and footwells would surely give off some warmth when everything’s running.

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Bride carbon-Kevlar seats for both driver and passenger, a Nardi steering wheel, MoTec C125 digital display and a roll cage have collectively transformed the interior space into something more akin of a race car.

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It’s hard to believe that the entire transformation of this S30 took Sato-san well over two decades to complete. But it’s not always the end result that is the most important thing in a project; it’s the journey. And what a journey it’s been.

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So if Sato-san decided to take his time and spread the build out a little bit, that’s perfectly fine by me. Besides, just look at it.

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

The Cutting Room Floor
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50 comments

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1

"What is it about the S30 Datsun Fairlady Z that lures us in whenever we find ourselves in its presence?"
The styling. Its one of the most attractive cars ever designed, much like E-type but with a hint of Japanese.

2

Sublime

3

I'm calling it... my car of 2018. Wow!

4

Join the club! ^^>

5

His attitude towards modifying it is perfect. Upgrade it when it's worn out. I bet he knows exactly what effect every part of that car has and I applaud him for his restraint. Beautifully done.

6

He really did! He wanted to show me more and tell me everything but freezing kinda shorten our conversation a bit lol

7

This truly is a gorgeous example. Absolute art on wheels.

8

every z car guy has giken dream,

9

Even without external modifications, this car looks so great!

10

I really admire it without much modification to be honest. Simplistic at its finest ftw

11

This is S30 perfection. The OS Giken head is a work of art. And as it should be with a $30kish price tag. No timing chain is a huge plus and anyone reading this needs to watch some videos to hear the sound it makes. I would take this engine/sound over anything making 500, 1000 or even 10,000hp. Chiron be damned, this is the ideal version of "speed" IMO.

12

My friend showed me pics of a guy in the late 80's with the true Datsun not repop OS Giken twin cam Z. I asked about the price he said its about the price of a house now?!?!?!?! that was then. I have had the privilege to witness some rare Japanese engines in street cars growing up in Japan.

13

Shame no vid to show off all that OS Giken goodness...

14

I knowwww.. but if you know me, you know that will be addressed sometime in the future ;)

15

Massively cool car! Done perfectly. Old Z cars just get better with age

16

One of the few articles I've read on any site and gone, "hm...yup."

Well written, great points and all accurate.

17

Thank you John ^^

18

You mean sextuplet of throttle bodies, not quad.

19

There it is. THIS is that Z I always see in event coverage photos, but have never come across in-depth. Always admired it, and TC24 equipped as well! Thank you for tracking down and sharing.

20

No problem! I'm just glad Sato-San suggested we meet up later and was serious about it! Can't count how many times people said let's meet up later and it falls though the cracks :(

21

ooof what a machine.

22

Pure Art ! car and location well matched.

23

A perfect match ^^ well worth freezing for lol

24

Wow, that's amazing. The TC24 head is legendary, a 400hp naturally-aspirated L-series is just insane, wow. It really is all the best bits of the old days, but with the power of a modern sports car. The Z is only just over a tonne, right?

What's the TC24 engine like at low speed manoeuvring around for photos? Is it well behaved, or more like a race engine?

The rest of the car is great too (although no heater in December... brrrr), love the wheels, everything. Good article!

25

That's a good question. It didn't seem like it was too difficult for Sato-San to keep it at low speeds for photos. It seemed like (I know it's dumb but since I didn't drive/ ride in it this time I didn't really notice) but a blend between behaved and some race car like tendency. However mostly on the behave side of the spectrum. It is one helluva engine!

26
John W Cangieter

I'm going to need new pants... N/A is so much fun. This is like a snow leopard. Rare and beautiful, with enough aggression to bite you in the ass. Great article!!!

27

Oh man that would have made for a good title lol. Thank you! ^^

28

The holy grail of Z engines!!! I’m so glad OS Giken decided to remake them so more (well-heeled) enthusiasts could enjoy a proper cylinder head design in their vintage Z’s.

29

That has to be one of my favorite features I've seen on this website...and one of the best sounding cars that I've ever heard; I went back and watched that clip at least a dozen times.

30

Thank you ^^ definitely been to meet up with Sato San again to get some sounds / footage lol

31

This... this is my ideal S30! White body with works-style flares, black wheels and an epic drivetrain package! What a beauty!

32
Александр Трофименков

Wow, the os giken head... a wet dream of mine. it’s like taking everything I love about old carbureted engines and adding that sweet sweet 9k redline to it. Too bad the thing costs a fortune

33

What an amazing build!!!!

34

The perfect Z! However, how does that Lamborghini duct feed quad throttle bodies? Shouldn’t it say six throttle bodies or a triplet of dual throttle bodies?

35

Yes it should lol. Thank you for that!

36

Nice car but something doesn't compute when I read this : "didn’t want to radically alter was the Datsun’s exterior appearance, hence his restraint" so the bonnet and inspection flamps were vented, the OEM wheelarches were cut out and replaced with over-fenders and a deep front airdam fitted. Sounds fairly radical to me to attached the fenders like that or have we all become blasé with the numerous 'conversions' visible on the net ? Fabulous mechanics - 400rwhp - are you sure ? And finally, is it rather an S31 than an S30 ? ;-) Thanks, keep up the Z reporting, Sean

37

Wellllll restraint is releative lol. So to me, yes xD. Seeing that Sato San told me it's an S30 (you know for good measure ^^) , I'ma have to go with him on this one. However I'll try my best to keep the Z coverage coming !

38

It only needs the ZG nose to be perfect

39

Yeah that's f**king Z-perfection.

40

I love the front air dam. Who makes those ones?

41

My bad, S31 from from 1976 ! :-)

42

Beautiful car, great photos and words........but there's one thing thats missing. No suspensions specs?

43

but no carbs????

44

My favourite car for ages. On top of everything else that's awesome about it, the colour palette is in such flawless good taste. Eg I would personally never have thought of retaining the bumpers, in chrome ... but it's the perfect choice. And another lovely small detail: NOT painting the brake callipers. Well played sir!

Great photos too Mr Celestine.

45

I do have to say, as much as I'd like to see more USDM content (that isn't drag racing), this is actually a pretty nice car. I can only see two real problems with it:

1. Wouldn't bending the roll cage around the dash like that create weak points?
2. It's white. Just plain white with no ornamentation. If you're going to go with a neutral color, at least do a menacing black or a nice metallic silver (though that too might be getting overused). It's not that white can't ever work, but...

46

Pure inspiration...

47

A great looking car and while has had the shell modified is still slightly understated (in a good way) with the paint and chrome work. Was also wondering if Sato-san has a build site for the Z as it would be interesting to see how the s15 gearbox was mated to the L28 as the bell housing is different. Defiantly a SH favorite.

48

Absolutely stunning once you look at the details. If I could nit-pick a little bit, I wish I could see it with some smaller diameter wats.

49

I need to know this sato-san. I just want to send time looking at this car.. up close. This is my fav car of all time.

50

Bravo!! Absolute purrfection. One of the best cars ever on this site. If he ever wants to sell and I become a millionaire I’d buy this over ANY new car available today. Unfortunately neither seems likely :)

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