Carbon-Accented Classic: The Speed Forme Fairlady Z

It’s a familiar scene for me: sharp winter sun, 7-Eleven car park, and a well-preserved slice of Japanese performance motoring history. But regardless of how many times the same scene presents itself, it always makes me smile. Well, it does once I’ve had my morning coffee.

And for the record, the best Japanese conbini (convenience store) coffee is not found at 7-Eleven but at Family Mart, which unfortunately did not have a store close to my meet-up point with Speed Forme owner and founder, Mr. Makoto Kawauchi.


Although we planned to meet at 8:00am, we both arrived late. Kawauchi-san because of traffic between the Speed Forme factory in Kobe and the conbini in Kyoto, and myself, because I am no use to anyone before 10:00am.


After our mutual apologies, we set off to find somewhere quiet to shoot the S30 Nissan Fairlady Z that had brought us out on this fresh, clear morning.


Inside the Z’s cabin, the 1970s vibe is strong, just how it should be. Because you wouldn’t buy a beautiful antique leather suitcase and then cover it in fake suede, even if it was a bit shabby, right? Compared to the Japanese sports and performance cars that arrived in the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s, these ’70s classics have a weight and tactility that says: ‘You get more than you paid for, and I’ll last you a lifetime’.


Kawauchi-san has made a few modern updates, like the Bride bucket seats, Auto-Meter analogue gauges, a PLX digital air/fuel ratio meter and an OMP steering wheel, but the highlight of the interior for me is the map light that takes centre stage on the dash. If that doesn’t say ‘grand tourer’, then I don’t know what does.


The map light may entice you to get out and start touring neighbouring prefectures, but the Z’s stiff suspension says head straight to the nearest circuit. It’s unforgiving, but Kyoto’s notoriously bumpy road surfaces weren’t helping.


After parking in a quiet back street, I could finally take a proper look at the Z’s exterior, its bright orange paint popping in the sun like a blood orange sliced open and served on a carbon fibre platter. The rear under spoiler, overfenders, lip spoiler, fuel flap and rear wing are all carbon – and all Speed Forme parts.

Not only is this Kawauchi-san’s personal car, it also doubles as a Speed Forme demo machine.


The rest of the car is a selection of JDM tuning’s greatest hits, including RAYS Volk Racing TE37V forged wheels – 18×9.5-inch and 18×10-inch front and rear respectively – wrapped in Advan Neova AD09 semi-slicks.


It’s not just looks, though. Under the long bonnet is an L-series engine with a big cam, triple Mikuni side-draught carburettors, custom intake and exhaust manifolds, and a Kakimoto exhaust system to finish things off. At both ends of the car, it sounds superb.


Thanks to Skyline RB 5-speed transmission and a beefy R200 differential with a 4.1 final drive, the Z can put its power down too.


Shots in the bag, it was time to return to our rendezvous point. I had another photoshoot to attend, and Kawauchi-san needed to head back to the Speed Forme factory in the Kobe countryside.

I’ve wanted to visit Kawauchi-san and check out his operation in person for a while, so I hope we can make that happen shortly. If I ever needed another reason, the new RZ34 Fairlady Z that Speed Forme recently took ownership of and is currently developing a unique body kit for might just be it.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_

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This is THE MIX i've always want to see!
I mean, even different accent colors on wheels is looking superb ^-^

Godspeed you! Speed Forme


Gotta love an orange Fairlady Z build this one is just perfect!


Just wow. This is what I imagine to be a well crafted car article. A blend of superb photography and journalism