DAT­SUN 260Z

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...

Fast Car - - Contents -

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

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