A couple of years ago, I shared a story about an epic Datsun 510 resto-mod project that was literally resurrected from its death bed. If you haven’t had the chance to read up on it, I’d strongly encourage you to take a few short moments to do that, so that you not only know about the 510, but also the man behind the build.
I ended that story with a promise to bring you guys part two when it was ready, and today, I’m here to deliver.
Andrew has always been a Datsun fan; he’s owned countless examples over the years, but most have been 510s, and for good reason. He’s clearly got the right eye for resto-modding them, and truth be told, they’re a serious blast to drive and fairly straightforward to work on. And for those looking to get into vintage cars without having to break the bank, the 510 is still an attainable platform.
The 510 is perfect type of car for someone like Andrew to save, time and time again. But the same can’t be said about the Z, especially the early ones.
I haven’t been able to pinpoint why exactly that is, but the most logical reasoning behind it might be the sheer lack of early series one Zs in the market. Finding one is definitely an obstacle in itself, and once you do find one, be ready to pull out a loan, because the demand for them now has led to seriously high price points, some nearing the mid six-figure mark.
But none of that matters if you’re Andrew, because you’ll obviously have the luck of a leprechaun. Allow me to shed some light on that…The Acquisition
Back in early 2018, Andrew’s brother-in-law came by one day to visit the family, and randomly asked Andrew if he’d be interested in his boss’s neglected “right-drive” Datsun. His brother in law is not much of a car guy, so Andrew took the question with a grain of salt, though his interest was piqued.
He replied with “possibly”, but certainly wanted more information before committing to anything. His brother-in-law didn’t even know what type of Datsun it was, so Andrew began pulling up images on Google of different cars, finally concluding that the one in question was a Z.
Despite that though, Andrew was still uncertain of what was going to be coming his way. After all, Zs come in many different forms, and the thought of this car being dead and sitting for a few decades made the whole situation quite questionable.
Andrew asked his brother-in-law to get some photos from his boss, and more information about the car’s history, too. Months went by with no news and, naturally, Andrew started losing faith in the deal. But one day a text with photos came through, and surely it was indeed the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that Andrew was after.
The car was covered in tree sap, the paint was pitted, the suspension looked like it was completely ruined, and the rear wheels were sunk into the ground likely from the years of erosion while it was abandoned outside. But it was absolutely what Andrew thought (and hoped) it was – a 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z, rocking its original condition in the most glorious form it could. Or as I like to call it, a f**king gold mine.
Three days later, Andrew found himself towing the car back home as its new and very proud caretaker.The Doctor
It wouldn’t be right for me to talk about this Z without discussing its incredible history either, because as the story goes, the person Andrew bought the car off was actually its original owner.
In the late 1960s, the owner was using his GI bill to go to medical school, when he was suddenly drafted for the Vietnam War. He then became an Air Force captain, and flew a few missions as well, and just so happened to order the Fairlady from Nissan when it was brand new, during his station in Japan. After his missions were completed and services fulfilled, he returned home to California – with the Z in tow. He became a doctor, and used the Datsun to travel all throughout the USA, and even some parts of Canada. Over the years he managed to rack up over 300,000 kilometers before parking it on his property for the next few decades until Andrew’s acquisition.The Resurrection
All of those miles, along with the years of use were clearly obvious in the condition of the car when Andrew brought it home. But that also all played a part in the decision for which direction to take the build. The end goal in mind was to retain as much of its originality as possible, but of course with a touch of Andrew’s shakotan-inspired flavor.
The first step in the process was to get the car all detailed up and see what was really hidden underneath. What’s cool though, is that while sifting through all of the junk, Andrew happened to come across a number of paper documents, dating as far back as the car’s original order forms from Japan.
I’ve had that same experience with Project 912SiX when I initially purchased it as well, and I can say with confidence that there is nothing more euphoric than finding old documentation. You end up trapped in your imagination, playing out scenes from the life the car has lived over the decades. It’s really the closest you can get to hearing the car talk.
Daydreaming aside, Andrew got back to business and continued to work through the mechanical gremlins in order to finally get the car running. The slave cylinder ended up being replaced, along with some miscellaneous common updates like changing the oil, coolant, and making some adjustments to the carburetors. But overall, the Z proved to be fairly well cared for throughout the duration of its life, and a few short weeks later Andrew had it back on the road.
Andrew proceeded to drive the Datsun for nearly 6,000 additional miles over the course of a year, which in turn led to the realization that he was absolutely in love with the car. Everything he thought he felt towards the S30 chassis proved otherwise with this car. The seating position, the driving characteristics, the weight balance, and of course all of the mechanical feel and driver engagement was enough to convert him into a full-blown Z nut. And that’s where the build pivoted…San Francisco Shakotan, Part II
Andrew’s styling choices have always raised controversy amongst those who know him. I think we can all appreciate the aesthetic appeal behind ‘low and slow’, but Andrew is definitely one to execute on that notion. With that in mind, the modifying began.
The suspension went through further refurbishment with an assortment of parts from Techno Toy Tuning, including coilovers, camber arms, upgraded lower control arms, sway bays front and rear, and new tie rod ends.
This was followed up with a beautiful set of Watanabe Gotti wheels in 15×9-inch with -13 offsets all around. But with that sort of aggressive fitment, and the height level Andrew wanted to be at for true shakotan styling, he had no choice but to opt for having the rear arches widened a bit. While that detail may not catch your eye right away, the rear fenders are actually flared by about ¾-inch with custom hand-made metal flares by Eric Brogan.
Of course, with any shakotan-inspired car, it needs to make the right noises as well. To accommodate, Andrew ditched the old SU carbs and went with a gorgeous set of Sidedraft Specialties refurbished Mikunis, a Fujitsubo header and exhaust, along with an assortment of supporting accessories.Next Up
While wrapping up the shoot, I asked Andrew if that was going to be it for the car. Was it finally at 100% of where he wanted it to be? Knowing that there’s no such thing as an end to his projects, he explained: “As it sits, I am currently going to be stopping work on the car. I hesitate to ever say ‘completed’, because I know I’ll always be looking for more parts and ways to modify the car in the future. But I am extremely happy with how it came out overall.”
I can’t help but agree with that testament. We all know this too well, but there is no such thing as ending a project you’ve invested so heavily in, not only in monetary terms, but also in just sheer time. I’m sure Andrew still has a laundry list of items to attend to on the Z, but those will have to be brought up in the next San Francisco Shakotan instalment…
For now, there’s a large gallery below for you guys to indulge in, because I think we can all agree that we can’t get enough of this beauty.