FEW CARS CAN MATCH THE DATSUN 260Z FOR LOOKS AND BRAWN, SO WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU DECIDE TO MODIFY ONE TO THE HILT? READ ON TO FIND OUT...
We love a 260Z here at FC Towers and we love them even more when they have wide fenders and even wider wheels bolted to them.
Every once in a while you lay eyes on a car that just looks right, from each and every angle. More often than not these cars tend to be greater than the sum of their components. And they’re often the result of their builder’s almost fanatical levels of commitment to the cause. In fact an owner’s single, bloody-minded determination to grind out a project car can be the deciding factor, the thing that makes the difference between a show stopping feature car like the Datsun you see here, and (an all-too often sight) a partially finished project being sold by a tired, beaten and disgruntled owner on eBay.
The Datsun 260Z you see before you more than fits the bill. First and foremost, there’s not a single angle it doesn’t look perfect from. Rear-three quarter? Sublime. Front on? Jaw-slackeningly pretty. Profile? We might need to lie down for a few minutes to recover...
As far as the owner’s commitment to the cause goes, it’s clear from the moment we first meet Robin Sluijter that he holds this car in the same regard as he might his first born child. And that’s before we even begin to discuss the trials and tribulations he’s been through to get to this point.
“My modified car career is littered with older Japanese cars, including a few Mazda 323s, all of which were tuned to a degree,” recalls Robin. “I was originally after an S14 when I came across this. I did some Googling and had to buy it. It had so much potential.”
Getting his mitts on the stylish Japanese icon was only half the battle though. Getting it into something approaching a road legal state was a far, far tougher task. Time hadn’t been especially kind to the 260Z, and by the time Robin came to own it, it was clear nothing but a complete nut and bolt restoration would cut the mustard.
So the 260Z was pushed into a barn a little over a year and a half ago, ready to be pulled apart and rebuilt by Robin and a collection of close friends and family. That the transformation has taken place over such a short space of time serves to underline just how much effort Robin went to in order to complete it, with hours snatched wherever possible.
“I was averaging about 25 hours a week, working solidly on the car,” he says with a grin. “I’d get home from work and go straight into the barn to do something on it, no matter how small. I’d often manage about eight hours in the evenings after work, with all day Saturday dedicated to it with my girlfriend, my friends and my father all pitching in to help.”
Robin knows a thing or two about car restoration. Yet it’s also probably fair to say that he needed all the help he could get, as the old Datsun was in a bad way. A comprehensive programme of stripping and shot blasting was followed by an equally exhaustive process of grinding and welding, one that saw all the car’s rotten metalwork unceremoniously chopped out and replaced with fresh steel. It can’t have been pleasant, but it ensured Robin had a rock-solid foundation on which to base his dream project.
“I made a conscious effort to do almost everything myself, to really make it my own project and my own car,” he says. “The exterior was easy enough as I’m a painter by trade. But other aspects were very much a learning curve.”
This learning curve didn’t always go to plan. For example, Robin managed to involuntarily introduce an angle grinder to his arm midway through tackling the bodywork. “It was a stupid mistake and one that made the rest of the project far harder. It needed three stitches in the end. But hey, ‘blood sweat and tears’, as they say.”
It all more than paid off though. Even the briefest of glances at Robin’s Datsun is enough to tell you this is one seriously well screwed together car. What perhaps won’t be as obvious is the degree to which said exterior has been altered – and just maybe that’s the hallmark of a well modified motor?
It now sports ‘240ZG fender flares’ (arches in UK -speak) fore and aft, copies of American arch extensions that we’ve come to know, appreciate and love on this side of the pond. They widen the car enough to (just about) squeeze the stunning 9x17in (front) and 9.5x17in (rear) Rota RBX alloys at all four corners, and tie in nicely with the lightweight polycarbonate bonnet, headlight covers, the BRE racing spoiler, the custom diffuser and, our favourite OEM+ tweak, the 280Z vents mounted in the bonnet.
It helps that all these changes have been carried out on a freshly painted canvass, a truly timeless shade that picks out the 260Z’s stunning, swooping lines perfectly.
“I spent a lot of time and effort trying to perfect the stance and at the same time sharpen the handling,” muses Robin. “There isn’t a lot available ‘off the shelf’ for this car, so I had to improvise for most of it, hence why the steering knuckles were adapted to mount correctly, the camber plates are a complete one-off and the BC coilovers had to be slightly modified.”
It’s a similar story with the brakes, with Robin having looked to the upper reaches of the Datsun range for inspiration and suitably effective parts, a process that’s allowed him to ditch the factory-fitted rear drum setup. Stopping duties are now ably handled by four-pot callipers from a Toyota Land Cruiser with ventilated discs from a Nissan 300ZX, while at the rear you’ll now find more 300ZX discs and callipers from an S14, with braided lines snaking their way front to back.
While Robin’s put a huge amount of time and effort into sorting the chassis and the exterior, the running gear is, by his own admission, largely as Datsun intended. We can see why, as there are very few engines as charismatic in factory fettle as the 2.6 six-banger found in the nose of the 260Z.
“There were a few ways to improve performance though, the 6-2-1 Janspeed manifold being a good example,” explains Robin. “This has had a noticeable impact on the power curve, as have the triple Hitachi dual SU carbs taken from a 240Z. There’s also a 62mm stainless steel exhaust, so it certainly sounds the part!”
Last but certainly by no means least, we have the interior – or what’s left of it! Robin has put the Datsun on a crash diet, completely gutting the interior both in order to save weight and to nail that race car look.
There’s a custom roll cage taking up most of the rear, while the front half of the cabin is now dominated by OMP bucket seats with four-point harnesses, plus some aluminium door cards. It means that this Datsun now weighs the square root of naff all, and helps ensure it’s able to haul itself along at a fair old rate of knots – more than enough to surprise more modern metal.
We said at the start of this feature that Robin’s Datsun is a classic case of a car being ‘greater than the sum of its components,’ and it certainly rings true. Taken in isolation there’s nothing especially groundbreaking about this particular 260Z, but when viewed as a whole it’s impossible not to fall head over heels for it. Every inch is perfect, every aspect well judged. No one element has been taken to such an extreme so as to overshadow another, and we think that’s quite an achievement.
As for what Robin plans to do to his car next, well most of his plans revolve around perfecting the elements already in place, though he does admit his end game involves sourcing and fitting a Skyline RB25. So we suspect we haven’t seen the last of this particular Datsun…
Looks stunning from every angle
Robin gutted the interior, both to save weight and nail that race car look