TO SIR WITH SHOVE
EACH YEAR TODD WOULD ASK WHEN IT WOULD BE READY AND EACH YEAR THEY WOULD SAY, ‘CHRISTMAS’ – THEY JUST NEVER SAID WHICH ONE!
AFTER a 15-year build process, Todd Bulkeley is justifiably proud of how his impeccably presented Datsun 1600 coupe has turned out. But ‘proud’ wasn’t exactly the word that came to mind when he first took ownership of the car.
“I spotted it on the Ozdat forum and imported it out of Japan,” Todd says. “The photos weren’t great, but the guy told me it was immaculate. It arrived in my driveway on my birthday – and it was horrible. It looked like it’d been dragged behind the boat the whole way – rust, rust, rust. I was totally gutted.”
Todd was told it had been driven to the loading dock in Japan, but he’s sceptical. “We couldn’t get it started. Besides, it had so much rust, you wouldn’t risk driving it on a public road.”
After being stuffed around by a couple of shops, Todd was advised to give John Zelukovic Smash Repairs a try.
“Ben [Zelukovic] came and looked at the car and said yes, but they wouldn’t be able to get to it for a while,” he says. “After having already sat idle for 12 months, I was like: ‘Arrgh!’ But, true to his word, Ben came ’round three months later to pick it up. That was in 2003.”
Each year Todd would ask when it would be ready and each year they would say, “Christmas” – they just never said which one! It finally rolled out of their workshop just in time to make Summernats 2017!
“It did take a long time, but I was in no hurry,” Todd says. “Also, I cannot thank John, Ben and rest of the fantastic team at Zelukovic’s enough. They’ve been unbelievable, even working on the car until 10 o’clock the night before we left for Summernats.”
During those years, there were many hours of cutting, grinding and hand-shaping raw metal, followed by lots and lots of welding and yet even more grinding to eliminate the tin worm.
The Orange-based Zelukovics are well known for their panel and paint skills, which are both strikingly showcased in SIRDAT’S arrowstraight panelwork and incredible Glasurit candy paint. The colour is called Rodney Red, custom-mixed by painter Ben Zelukovic.
“It might be a small car, but being candy it was a lot of work,” Ben says.
The interior is the result of intense negotiations with Wayne Birkin at Street Trim in Orange.
“I wanted to do black inserts; Wayne said no,” explains Todd. “But I got my way and Wayne loves the black. Then he said no to my Recaros. ‘Too big for the car,’ he said, preferring the Lotus seats he had stashed away. I’m glad I lost that battle, as the seats look beautiful.”
The seats and door trims are upholstered in genuine Connolly Leather, which took three months to come out from England.
“It’s the same leather used in Ferraris,” Todd says. “I gave Wayne a full trim set, he gave everything back, preferring to hand-form metal panels, which he covered in leather.”
The dash, rear seat, flat floors and console are also one-offs.
While its looks stunning, SIRDAT is not just all show; under the bonnet is a stovehot FJ20 that’s been punched out to 2.2 litres. Built by PMC Race Engines, it sports plenty of goodies: CPC billet intake, 70mm throttlebody, CP pistons, and Spool crank, rods and valve springs. There’s also a custom sump by Clayton’s Creations, plus twin Bosch 044 pumps, Bosch 2000 injectors, four AEM coils and a big-arse Garrett GTX3582R turbo
With E85 in the tank and only a run-in tune in the Haltech Elite 1500 ECU, the mighty fourpot still managed to twist the dial on the Mick’s Motorsport dyno all the way to 515hp at 23psi!