If you’ve ever owned or spent any real amount of time driving a classic car, you’ll be able to appreciate that in today’s day and age, and on today’s roads, they’re often, well, not very good.
I know, it’s a damning statement to open with alongside these images of one of Bradford-based MZR Roadsports’ gorgeous ‘Sport-Design’ 240Zs, but hear me out.
Speak to classic car owners and you’ll hear words like ‘character,’ ‘endearing,’ and ‘charm.’ Delve a bit deeper and you’ll also hear phrases such as ‘running issues,’ ‘off the road,’ and ‘I hope it gets me home.’ For all of the fun and quaintness that comes from motoring in a classic car, and for all of their period charm, mechanical nature, timeless styling and often gorgeous looks, there’s always that niggle thought in the back of your mind that something is about to go wrong.
You expect it, so when it does happen you can shrug it off knowing that, whatever it is this time, it’ll be a relatively easy fix. Or so you hope.
Even when fully restored to original standards, classic cars are also often quite terrible to drive. I’m talking vague, floaty suspension, steering with no immediate correlation to what the front wheels are doing, engines that seem to contribute very little to speeding you up, and brakes that seem to contribute even less to slowing you down.
There is a cure for all of these problems, however, and that comes in the form of restomodding.
The phenomenon of taking a loved classic and rebuilding it from the ground up while applying modern technology is one that almost all of us will be familiar with by now. Names such as Automobili Amos, Redux, Alfaholics, Lanzante, David Brown and, of course, Singer, all spring to mind. Each is synonymous with a particular make or model in which they specialise.
I’m sure Martin and Rahail from MZR Roadsports are fed up of hearing it by now, but their company is to the Datsun 240Z what Singer is to the 911.
The 240Z is a model that wears its years remarkably well in standard form. It’s also a model that’s long been the fascination of modifiers around the world, but no-one is building them quite like MZR. We’ve got a couple more in-depth stories about the company to follow, but for now I wanted to quickly show you around their (starting from £99,995) Sport-Design demo car, just to give you an insight as to the sort of quality that you should expect to see.
Yes, it is a lot of money.
But MZR specialise in one thing – they offer turn-key bespoke 240Z builds, from bare metal to brand new car. You choose your basic level of specification, give them an insight into any additional modifications that you’d like making, tweak the spec to your liking, and they do their thing.
And my God do they do it well.
All of MZR’s cars are sourced and imported from the United States’ west coast, acid-dipped back to bare metal, and then rebuilt to exacting standards. Cars of this era aren’t famous for their resistance to corrosion, so importing is the best way to ensure that as much of the original metal is left intact as possible.
The customer gets to choose whether the car remains left-hand drive or is converted to right-hand drive. Every single component that goes back onto the car is either brand new or completely refurbished.
MZR’s approach is not only sensitive to the Z-car’s original design, but to design aesthetics in general. There’s a level of care and attention that’s been bestowed upon every element of each car that immediately strikes you. Sitting in an MZR custom carbon fibre bucket seat trimmed in Lamborghini basket-weave leather, there’s Swiss heather loop carpet beneath my feet, a nappa leather wheel in front of me, and a very Porsche 917-esque shift knob to my left.
From the materials used to the fit and finish and the selected colour schemes, the Sport-Design 240Z is a very nice place to be.
But of course Martin and Rahail aren’t just rebuilding these cars, they’re reengineering them for the 21st century. There’s a choice of power derived from the L28-series engine under the bonnet, rebuilt from scratch in either 2.9 or 3.1-litre configuration and featuring MZR’s own electronic fuel injection and Jenvey throttle bodies amongst a host of other contemporary upgrades.
Big disc brakes, uprated adjustable suspension, motorsport LSD rear differential and heavy duty axle conversion all make the cars drive like new, but it’s the quality of life options like push start, LED lights, DAB, Bluetooth, and A/C that make these cars feel new.
MZR Roadsports are building cars that feel very sympathetic to the Z’s identity, and making them classics that can not only be used every day, in any conditions, but higher specification cars that drive and feel like they’ve just rolled off the factory floor, only better. You can’t say that of many cars from the 1970s.
Coming up soon, we’ll be taking you behind the scene at MZR, as well as an in-depth look at one of their more extreme customer cars.