FJ FURY

NZ Performance Car - - Contents - WORDS: RENE VER­MEER PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

NIS­SAN FJ20-ET–POW­ERED DAT­SUN 1600

Alot of the old-school cars we fea­ture in NZPC mag­a­zine are of the ro­tary­pow­ered va­ri­ety, and it seems pis­ton­pow­ered clas­sics like Gerrit Vryer’s Dat­sun 1600 hide away in the shad­ows, only to be re­leased when their own­ers feel they need a good beat­ing, some­thing they seem to thrive on. That’s why Gerrit de­cided upon this par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple — not for the ex­treme amount of cus­tom work car­ried out to strengthen ev­ery driv­e­line com­po­nent imag­in­able, but for the lump of iron which sat be­tween those strut tow­ers.

Ja­panese au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers built their en­gines tough back in the early ’80s, and to this day they are of­ten favoured over their mod­ern coun­ter­parts. If it weren’t that th­ese units are slowly get­ting de­stroyed, and af­ter­mar­ket sup­port for them is di­min­ish­ing, we would still see mo­tors such as the FJ20ET dom­i­nat­ing our im­port scene.

That be­ing said, Gerrit was ex­tremely happy his newly pur­chased Dat­sun was al­ready fit­ted with the bul­let­proof iron-block FJ20ET en­gine. Af­ter own­ing sev­eral turbo ve­hi­cles in the past and caus­ing may­hem in his lo­cal town of Whanga­paraoa, Gerrit had a string of bad luck when a par­tic­u­lar Evo of his grenaded it­self. He said, “I lost in­ter­est in cars for a while when the Evo blew up. I sold it on and pur­chased a VR-4, which I then sold, and things re­ally slowed down. I knew I wanted an­other turbo car, but I didn’t know what un­til the Dat­sun showed up on Trade Me.” Af­ter a few months of own­er­ship with the Dat­sun, the hon­ey­moon pe­riod com­pletely wore off and Gerrit re­al­ized what he had got him­self into. Some of the work­man­ship from the pre­vi­ous owner was found to be fairly av­er­age in qual­ity, and it seemed that the more he looked at the car, the more he found things wrong with it. To top things off, the FJ de­cided to drop a pis­ton and com­pletely de­stroy it­self, fill­ing the en­gine with iron shrap­nel. “It was now a per­fect time to build my own mo­tor how I wanted to. The FJs are well known for be­ing ridicu­lously strong en­gines, es­pe­cially the bot­tom end, as they’re an iron block and the in­ter­nals are much beefier than a mod­ern-day en­gine,” Gerrit told us. Although that’s true, he still wanted some in­sur­ance, and fully forged the bot­tom end with the best com­po­nents avail­able, so that once the hy­brid Gar­rett T04E turbo built by Damian Mor­ris at A1 Tur­bos was wound into its ef­fi­ciency range, it could take the pun­ish­ment with ease. A Mi­croTech LT10-S with hand-held con­troller was de­cided upon to keep things within their lim­its, and on 17psi of boost, with what is said to be a con­ser­va­tive tune, it makes 240kW (322hp) at the wheels. It doesn’t take a wiz­ard to un­der­stand that 900kg with this sort of power makes for lit­tle rock­et­ship.

Ja­panese au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers built their en­gines tough back in the early ’80s, and to this day they are of­ten favoured over their mod­ern coun­ter­parts. If it weren’t that th­ese units are slowly get­ting de­stroyed, and af­ter­mar­ket sup­port for them is di­min­ish­ing, we would still see mo­tors such as the FJ20ET dom­i­nat­ing our im­port scene.

In­stead of boost kick­ing in, the Dat­sun hit a huge pot­hole and the bon­net re­lease catch failed. The bon­net came fly­ing up do­ing well over 100kph and smashed into the wind­screen

Af­ter mod­i­fy­ing and re­plac­ing al­most ev­ery com­po­nent of the Dat­sun in his garage — which, we might add, is an im­mac­u­late workspace — Gerrit set to com­plet­ing the fi­nal touches on the build. A set of 17x7-inch Advanti SA15 wheels were fit­ted so he could get some much stick­ier rub­ber un­der the guards, his choice be­ing Achilles 123S semi-slicks. The light­weight Dat­sun sticks to the road not only thanks to those tyres, but a well-thought-out and well-ex­e­cuted Koni shock set-up with Ra­ce­pro cam­ber plates. The Dat­sun now has a lot more ad­justa­bil­ity than it did stock, and sway has all but been elim­i­nated thanks to the Mad Dat sway bar and the en­tire ure­thane bush cat­a­logue in­stalled un­der­neath.

Given the car’s abil­ity to out­per­form costly ex­otics, the next task was to up­grade the an­chors. R32 GT-R four-pot calipers and ro­tors oc­cupy the empty space in­side the front wheels, and R31 Sky­line discs are used down the back.

All was set, Gerrit was ex­tremely happy with the Dat­sun, and the NZPC photo shoot was booked into his cal­en­dar. But a week from the shoot, he was out in the car when the ab­so­lute worst thing that could hap­pen seven days be­fore­hand did hap­pen, as Gerrit ex­plains. “So there I was, mak­ing my way to my tuner to get a few is­sues ad­dressed. I was mak­ing my way down a long straight road and de­cided to give the old girl some jan­dal. In­stead of boost kick­ing in, the Dat­sun hit a huge pot­hole and the bon­net re­lease catch failed. The bon­net came fly­ing up do­ing well over 100kph and smashed into the wind­screen. Af­ter we pulled over, we man­aged to ca­ble tie it back down and still made it to the tuner, but there was sig­nif­i­cant dam­age.” With a week left, time was run­ning out. Gerrit found a sup­plier down the line who made him a bon­net with a day’s no­tice. He had an­other mate prep and paint the dam­age, and a new bon­net catch was sourced. So thanks to a few key peo­ple, the Dat­sun was ready and fresh as a daisy for the shoot, some­thing Gerrit is ex­tremely thank­ful for.

At time of writ­ing he planned to race the Dat­sun at the V 4&Ro­tary Na­tion­als cov­ered in this is­sue, so make sure you head to the cov­er­age page and check out what time he slammed out.

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Once you start go­ing over the 1600, you re­al­ize how ex­ten­sive the cus­tom work is. The gear­box is out of the DR30 Sky­line the en­gine was orig­i­nally sourced from. The drive­shaft had to be short­ened, cus­tom drive­shaft hoops were in­stalled along with cus­tom heat-treated half shafts, and a CV con­ver­sion was com­pleted. Down the back an R200 long-nose LSD with a 4.44 ra­tio keeps two wheels spin­ning at all times

Although it’s not the SSS model, the Dat­sun 1600 may as well be as ev­ery com­po­nent in the car has been im­proved upon or mod­i­fied, leav­ing Gerrit with a well-bal­anced tur­bocharged rocket

With thicker rods than an SR20DET and an iron block ca­pa­ble of tak­ing co­pi­ous amounts of boost, it’s no won­der Gerrit was happy to rebuild this FJ20 as his base. Although it’s a strong en­gine in stock form, Wiseco forged pis­tons, Spool forged H-beam rods, ARP rod fas­ten­ers, and ACL race bear­ings were all in­stalled, and then bal­anced to en­sure com­plete re­li­a­bil­ity once the boost is turned up

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