Sometimes a ‘how we got here’ point of view is necessary for a story. Nino Tecson grew up around cars. His dad and uncles were always working on various builds, and some of Nino’s earliest memories revolve around his father respraying cars multiple times and swapping engines and transmissions.
With cars such a big part of his childhood, it’s unsurprising that Nino and his cousins were taught the ins and outs of auto repair and enhancement from a young age. They were swapping engines at 16 years old, as well as maintaining all the family vehicles. We’re talking about a large family too, so Nino got to work on Japanese, European and domestic American models.
Both of Nino’s parents drove Toyotas and when he was looking to buy a car in the early ’90s, his peers were all getting into Honda Civics, CRXs and Integras. Nino wanted something different, so after saving up some money, he bought a Nissan Sentra. It was with this car that his passion for custom and modified cars really began.
Nino says that after around a year of ownership, the Sentra was fully gutted and barely streetable. It started with NOS fogger system and other performance upgrades, but eventually a tuned SR20DET found its way into the engine bay to really light up the front tires.
Cars continued to play a big role in Nino’s life through his 20s and 30s, but five years ago he was able to make a career out them. Now he spends his days restoring and modifying old cars for others. Of course, Nino still needed his own project.
Having started out with a Nissan, Nino knew he had to go there again, but this time with something a little more special – and quite a bit older – than a Sentra. He found exactly what he was looking for in a straight, rust-free S30 Datsun 240Z.
Using his decades of experience, this would be Nino’s ultimate build.
Nino’s approach to this build was to restore, improve and add personal touches to the Z. The result is pretty spectacular.
Early on in the project Nino considered cutting the body to fit fender flares, but given the condition of the car, it just felt wrong. As you can see though, it hasn’t stopped him from fitting wide wheels – specifically a set of Devil Japan Shadow Spokes from the early ’70s. These have been stepped up from 14 to 15-inch and out to 8.5-inch at the front and 9-inch at the rear.
One of the main reasons to go 15-inch was the brake upgrade Nino had in mind – a Techno Toy Tuning BBK package with 300mm front discs and Wilwood Superlite forged calipers. At the time, micro kits for 14-inch wheels weren’t a thing. Techno Toy Tuning’s name came also be found on the coilover suspension conversion.
Under the hood, the Z’s original L24 engine remains, but today it looks, sounds and performs a whole better than it did when it left the factory more than 50 years ago. The E31 head has been ported and fitted with a performance cam, the intake benefits from a Mikuni 44PHH triple carburetor setup, and with the exhaust, headers flow into a custom stainless steel system. Crane ignition and a Mallory optical distributor are also in use.
Inside, Nino has kept things simple and minimalistic. Here you’ll find a pair of Autolook seats from the early ‘80s with Willans x Nightrunner harnesses, a Watanabe Falcon steering wheel, custom Porsche 917-inspired wooden shift knob (with matching e-brake lever cover) and a Datsun Competition rear-view mirror. Sound deadening and new floor carpet was also added to keep things comfortable.
If you look close you’ll also see an Autometer Sport-Comp tachometer mounted in the dash. It’s the only part that Nino has left over from his Sentra, so it felt right to include it in this build.
When I asked Nino about some of his best memories in the Z so far, he replied: “The most recent one was when I had my 6-year-old in the car with me on the way to meet you. Someone gave a thumbs up; my son saw it and said, “they like your car, dad.” He saw another one, and another one, so he counted them. “That’s three, dad; that’s four.” He was so amused. He counted six people waving or giving a thumbs up. He said, “wow, they really like your car, is it like that every time?” It made me laugh and I told him no, usually just one or two, but there was traffic and a lot of cars on the road.”
I think we all remember the first time we realized certain cars are special. This Z definitely is.