Blasphemy Or Brilliance: ZCON’s 240Z On Air

There really are no rules when it comes to building a car.

Still, people love to express their own bias when it comes to this sort of thing. Without a doubt, the best way to communicate your vision is to simply build it; everyone has a certain leaning and that’s a good thing. It creates diversity in car culture and forces the evolution of the building cycle. Whatever your preference, I think we can all agree that if everyone simply restored their cars to their former factory glory it’d be a very boring world indeed. Whether you’re doing a simple restoration, building for grip, or doing an aesthetic refresh, creativity should always be at the forefront of your build.

This is why I always get excited when I see a properly-executed vintage car sitting low to the ground.


It looks so wrong and, yet, it looks so right. The clean and honest body lines of this Datsun S30, drawn on paper in the ’60s, are hugely exaggerated by taking a few inches out of the ride height. Without any flares or over-fenders to speak of, the original lines of the Z are beautifully maintained.


It’s clear that Chris, the owner and builder of the car, has a deep-seeded love for the design cues of the 240Z, but we’ll get into that in a moment. Chris got his start in the automotive world with a love for Nissan’s S-chassis, and now also owns an R32 Skyline GT-R, a bone stock ’98 240SX SE, and a 300 TDI-swapped 5-speed Land Rover Discovery. He basically has one car for every occasion.


Regardless of whether or not you approve of how the Datsun currently sits, it’s a car that slowed everyone down at the final car show of ZCON Atlanta. You just can’t walk by this thing without going in for a closer look.


For most, if not all, it’s something they haven’t seen done before. In fact, Chris tells me that his 1970 240Z is the first in Georgia on air, not to mention one of the first in the world to have fully adjustable air suspension. The front of the car is dealt with via Only Charged Dubs double-bellow bags with the rear making use of a pair of OCD’s sleeved bags.


It’s all controlled by Air Lift Performance 3P management, but what I love about this car is that it doesn’t scream ‘modified’ the same way that many other builds on air do. It’s not a car that’s hopping on some hype train to find its way to Instagram fame.


Instead, this is a 240Z that maintains a sort of classic balance with its ride height, almost as if the car was built sometime in the ’80s when low-down car style started to take off in other automotive niches. This is probably in part due to the fact that Chris added the air suspension to increase functionality (rather than just to get low), because he would always scrape in his driveway after installing coilovers. Still, he says he’s wanted to go with an air setup ever since he bought the car some seven years ago.


In the vein of maintaining the feel of the first-gen Z, the interior remains largely original – at least in aesthetic. The addition of a Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel works nicely with the adjustable custom-stitched Recaro LX buckets and factory details.


Under the hood you’ll find a naturally aspirated L28 block fed via a trio of Weber 40DCOE carburetors complete with vintage velocity stacks. The addition of a 292-degree camshaft gives the already good-sounding engine a bit more of a lope as fumes are sent out a 2.5-inch stainless exhaust. Meanwhile, power goes through a proper 5-speed and into the stock R180 differential.


Back outside the car, there are a couple make-or-break details that really add to the overall feel of the 48-year-old Datsun.


Wheel choice is always a dangerous game when building a car: Make the right decision and it all comes together; go just a bit too far and everything falls apart. As such, you’ll already have noticed the simple, four-spoke Work Equip 01s the 240Z wears. And, on all four corners, disc brakes are tucked in behind.


I also liked the BRE front lip which adds an appropriate touch of aggression while also serving to exaggerate the ride height just that little bit more.


Overall, it’s a period and family-correct tribute with a few modern underpinnings. It’s almost a purist build plus air suspension; the perfect blend of restoration, hot rodding, and tasteful modification. This is of course just my opinion, and at a purist-centric event like ZCON there were plenty of mixed reactions throughout the day.


But as I watched these interactions I enjoyed noticing that even the staunchest of Z-car fans enjoyed Chris’s build. The presence of the car coupled with Chris’s attention to detail and use of Datsun parts proved irresistible to everyone.


This spirit of appreciation in the face of blasphemous swaps, air ride, and vinyl-wrapped builds — which were mixed in with plenty of era-correct restorations — is what I loved about ZCON’s final car show, and I’ll be sure to touch on this in detail in my main coverage of this event.

Still, if Chris’s 240Z isn’t your bag (see what I did there) the two Bob Sharp specials parked right next to it just might be.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



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blasphemy? Nope. Looks lovely, I hope to have my Z in an ocre similar to that one day.


Trevor, you did know I'm a Z guy right? LOL. This is fockin bad ass! Love it! Thanks for sharing.


Haha nice! I think everyone's a Z guy, at least secretly.


You know, its always a pleasant surprise to see a Build in my head come to life, then to see it featured on Speedhunters.
Just amazing. Maybe the one thing I might do differently, just for that extra grunt, getting a Rebello 3.2L or 3.5L.


This car made a lot of waves when it first started popping up on all the Z forums, but it has always been super clean. Not many Zs on air, but it isn't uncommon in the Datsun world, especially with the truck guys. Cool to see a series 1 properly slammed.


Elegant, racy, clean, and traditional – two thumbs way up!!!


Ok, this is the one that made things finally clear: this publication is sucking up dollars from air ride companies and it's infiltrating into the reporting. Thaaaaat explains why air is so popular on here.

Now that I get it I'm good.


Lol! So if they start running cars with Rotiforms or Bilsteins they are just sucking up dollars there too?... wow...


Bilstein is actually one of the most reputable shock companies on the planet. Rotiforms look like something a rapper buys. Not sure why those two things linked in your head, but I get your point.

All I was saying is now that I realized that all the air ride BS makes sense. Every once in a while they slip in a comment about how well it can perform at the track which is just nonsense until I realized there was a sponsorship connection.

That's all I was saying.


Gerald, it's no secret we have partners. I normally wouldn't bother, but from a journalistic standpoint I think there are a couple things worth a mention.

Look at the bottom of the page and you'll see that's why Kevin mentioned those brands; Rotiform and Bilstein are both partners alongside Air Lift Performance.

This story had nothing to do with our sponsors, but seeing as how (in your words) we've partnered with some of the most reputable companies on the planet it's pretty often their parts pop up in the wild and, thus, in our stories. If a sponsor sends us a lead to a build we'll usually mention this fact in the story. Not to mention, if you visit just about any other automotive website you'll find yourself absolutely assaulted by their sponsors.

Besides, look no farther than the fact that my article on the two Bob Sharp specials has 1/5th the comments and you'll realize we've partnered with one air suspension company because this is what people want to see (and talk about) anyway.

Hope this paints a more clear picture for you, and thanks for reading.


Have driven in a car on air? Genuinely curious.


Yes, one of my friends also valves shocks for a touring car series. I'm not uneducated on the subject matter. Have been racing 22 years as well. Air can handle well in the same way a stock Ae86 can be driven quicker than an M3.


Fair play. I just always like to ask because a lot of people's air experiences are tainted by air cylinders of the past, or older more primitive set ups.


The older ones were terrible. Newer are better made but in comparison to proper shocks they aren't even in the same league.


I disagree with your statement of proper shocks, when its possible for the shocks to literally be the same ones used in traditional coil over applications.


With all due respect that shows me how little you know about the subject matter. It's about way more than throwing a bag on a mediocre shock like Ohlins. Yes, those are mediocre shocks...


Does it? I just showed you how it's possible to mount a bag on any shock or damper after your proper shock comparison.

Now if you said that's all well and great but the dynamics of an air bladder vs a spring still provides different characteristics in terms of spring rate then I'd agree. Because that is true, because it does.

But you said shocks.

I don't know a lot about suspension in dedicated race applications but I've been following advancements in air technology for some time.


My bad for not clarifying. They work together as a unit. I would have thought that was understood hence my comment.


I think that more than anything it's that as mentioned often here in all of the various posts, they tend to show us what is popular with everyone else.
Not raggin' on ya guy as I myself am not at all into the air fad, or most of the fads of the past 10 years+ to be honest, but a lot of people like air for whatever reason and there are a LOT of builds going that direction.
Sure Speedhunters contributors want to see their stuff published in action, but those same people didn't pay the builder to build their car the way they did.


Fair game.


I'm here for all of this.


Well...I like it.


I say brilliance because it's a series 1, the best color (920), has amazing wheels, the right engine and was pretty damn tastefully done. A beautiful example of an S30.



I like how you can make a classic car into something simple with just a few touches, people go wild and extreme and it ends up being too much for the vehicle. sometimes less is more. and ive always been about adding onto the car without touching the body extremely. the only real acception i make are for the main manufacturers tuners AMG nismo etc because they have the backing of a mulit million dollar company do aero windtesting and crash testing and stuff on there special edition models. so its nice to see someone that hasnt wrapped there 2407 in bright vomit green with -400 cambers vossens on air with an LS swap and a giant chassis mounted wing stripped to the nines and then poetically hardparked in the middle of a car show after being trailed there and never used once :(




So are we supposed to assume that a USDM S30 came with a G nose? Lazy detailing...


What do you mean? This isn't a G-nose...


Not sure if you read the feature on the two Bob Sharp cars, but, regarding the white 240Z, Trevor clearly states that it has a "G -nose style front end". No one is saying or assuming, that a USDM S30, came with a G-nose.


This things ruined owners a real douche too.


Because he is one of my best friends

Daniel P Huneault

owner may be a douche as you say but It's far from ruined!


...And how would you know that about the owner?


Because he was sitting in the garage with me installing it all a few months ago. Haha.




I'd have to do something to tidy those plug leads....

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Bagged or not, it sure has a shakotan feel to it.


I like that he, in the process of installing air suspension, didn't chose to follow the trend and make it sit so low that it looks like all the axles snapped.


Absolutely stunning car.


I think its beautiful. I'm working on a zx and LOVE static low and grip but my back, however, does not. So mine will more than likely be on air. As much as people bitch about the semi-trailing arm suspension on these cars you'd think the cries of heresy would be few and far between. Its usually those that have never owned one bitching.


I'm in the love it crowd, so nice...and we share the same steering wheel, bonus!


Gorgeous car! Narrow/stock body on the S30 looks so much better than any of the various flares available. To be honest even the stock flares on some S30s look terrible in my view. The only thing that would improve it is a G-nose!


Body looks Great! Engine room is a wreck,triples need heat shields & at least fuel line clamps that match,Great article,Thx for sharing !


A wreck because of hose clamps and an optional heatshield?