At a premium car show it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd.
From pretty much my first walk-around at MADE Dubai back in February, I knew there was one car in particular that I had to cover in detail before I flew home. It might not have been the newest build present (I believe it had already attended the show in 2019), and it wasn’t a particularly new take on a tried and tested recipe, but it was an exquisite example.
We spend so much time eagerly trying to find the ‘next big thing’ that we forget – and I include myself in this – that some of the best things we can come across are simple evolutions of cars that already exist. Those that aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but just doing their bit to refine it.
This is very much one of those cars.
With the exception of maybe the AE86, I don’t think there’s a vintage Japanese car we’ve covered as much on Speedhunters as the Datsun S30 and its subsequent evolutions. I am far from an expert on this model, but I know what I like, and I enjoy spending time getting to know more about any car that interests me, this being no exception.
Unusually, this was a car that was determined not to be documented. Its owner Mohammaed was thrilled at the prospect of a Speedhunters feature, but his car was slightly reluctant about its upcoming time in the spotlight.
On the way to our first planned shoot, the car snapped a serpentine belt in traffic and came to a halt. It was recovered back to the event’s venue at the Dubai Autodrome while we continued to shoot the unlikely pairing of an R32 GT-R and Viper SRT.
With limited time available to photograph the car before I had to fly back, and being unable to source the correct sized belt, we made the decision to shoot the Z at the venue. Unfortunately for us, it was the middle of the afternoon with the harsh sun high in the sky.
While conditions weren’t optimal, I wasn’t flying home without at least giving it a shot. Luckily, we were able to get the car up onto the concourse underneath the main grandstand, which gave us some interesting light and shadows to play with. I’ve had worse days, to be honest.
Rarely is any car absolutely flawless, and it’s even rarer again for any fault to be put on the owner. It just happens that, sometimes, highly modified and custom cars can be a little bit temperamental. Rarely is a car every truly finished, either. Anyone who has spent any real amount of time around cars will be able to relate, I’m sure.
Serpentine belt aside, this was one of those uncommon cars that impressed so much from every angle, inside and out. If I could own or build a Z-car to any spec, I’m pretty sure it would look a lot like this.
Does it matter that it’s left-hand drive while wearing Fairlady Z emblems? I don’t think so, especially not on a car that’s been so thoroughly overhauled. What I do know is that the car is a physical representation of Mohammaed’s love and enthusiasm for Japan and its domestic products.
For a car of this vintage to be of this standard nearly always relies upon a ground-up restoration. With the body fully restored and rust free, it was painted in a custom shade of grey, based on an optional colour for a Porsche 911 GT3. All brand new body trims and original emblems were added to give it that new feel.
The carbon fibre detailing is restrained, but without being lost altogether. It feels like just the right amount. From the GT3 mirrors to hood vents, or the tail light surround and BRE rear spoiler, everything is carefully considered.
In particular, how the custom carbon flares glide down over the Toyo Proxes R888R rear tyres is very satisfying. We’re talking fractions of a millimeter being the difference between that perfect fitment or a cracked flare.
The wheels, custom built three-piece Watanabe RS8s, measure 16×11.5-inches up front and 16×12.5-inches at the rear. Behind them, a full Wilwood big brake kit on both front and rear axles, with 300mm front discs and a Wilwood brake booster feeding custom brake lines.
It won’t be much of a surprise for most that a car sitting this low and with such tight fitment is running on air. It’s the logical solution, after all. What might not be obvious are the other considerable suspension upgrades courtesy of Techno Toy Tuning including front GTX2 lower control arms and TC rods at the front. Out back there are TTT lower control arms, a mustache bar, billet drop mounts and dog bone. Both ends of the car feature ST sway bars along with new hubs running ARP studs.
The front and rear air struts are managed with an Air Lift Performance 3H system, with its controller mounted on the centre console. The 3H manifold is proudly mounted in the rear ahead of a custom carbon tank and manages air flow via custom copper hard lines. There are two Viair 400C compressors to quickly fill the tank.
Inside you’ll also find a weld-in half cage that the custom-trimmed aluminium seats are secured to.
I could ramble on all day about the interior and the balance between minimalism and material choices in order to create a functional yet still very pleasing place to be. There’s more photos in the gallery at the bottom of this story which I’m sure you can pore over yourself, as I’m reluctant to give anyone an RSI from scrolling too much.
I would have said that the party piece couldn’t have been anything other than an L28, but the Datsun did previously run a big-power RB26 which was best described as ‘undriveable’. So, this fully built L-series was a return to the car’s roots and sees a healthy 210hp at the rear wheels with some help from triple OER ITBs with 450cc injectors, individual MSD coils, and Haltech engine management. There’s nitrous to come, too.
There have also been some drivetrain upgrades, which I imagine might have been a by-product of the previous engine setup. Regardless, the car runs a 300ZX turbo gearbox, a custom short aluminium drive shaft, R200 limited slip differential, and WHP custom CV joints and axles.
I don’t think Mohammaed’s Z is one I could ever tire of shooting, and while I do wish we could have photographed it in various locations across the city and on the outskirts of Dubai, I’m still grateful that I was able to spend at least some time with it before catching a flight home.
I truly hope Mohammaed continues to evolve and perfect his Z too, and that I can come back in the future and pore over it once more. There’s a lesson for all of us here that instead of lusting after what we don’t have, to appreciate and continue to pour love into the things that we have right in front of us.
There was probably a stage when your current car or project kept you awake at night thinking of all the possibilities, so maybe it’s time to realise those ideas and dreams while you still can…The Cutting Room Floor