DANIEL SONG’S DAT­SUN 240Z

Super Street - - CONTENTS - WORDS Jonathan Wong PHO­TOS V

When you’ve spent the bet­ter part of your car-build­ing years work­ing with “con­tem­po­rary tuner cars,” noth­ing flips the script more than go­ing the classic route. For Daniel Song, after 15 years of Hon­das, Scions and the oc­ca­sional Lo­tus, it was time to go old school. “After com­pet­ing in the Scion Tuner Chal­lenge a few years ago, I found my­self ap­pre­ci­at­ing nos­tal­gic ve­hi­cles be­cause of their time­less qual­i­ties,” Daniel says. The 240Z be­came his first ven­ture into mod­i­fy­ing a Ja­panese classic, thanks to its unique side pro­file with an elon­gated nose, which re­minded him of older Fer­raris and Jaguars.

The Z is, right­fully so, a per­fect choice when it comes to the topic of nos­tal­gia. Dur­ing its ini­tial re­lease, it was con­sid­ered an af­ford­able sports car and helped cat­a­pult Dat­sun to its cult sta­tus. Daniel pur­chased his with the in­ten­tion of restor­ing it him­self—un­til he quickly re­al­ized two things: One, restor­ing a car isn’t as easy as it looks, and two, un­like a new car in which bolt-ons can be pur­chased and in­stalled with ease, an older Dat­sun re­quires more thought­ful at­ten­tion. “I man­aged to strip the car down in my garage and got it painted,” he says. “But after that, it sat un­touched for over a year.” A new­born son and busi­ness obli­ga­tions took pri­or­ity, how­ever, know­ing he couldn’t do the en­gine work on his own, Daniel de­cided it was time to en­list the right shop to fin­ish the job. En­ter JDM Leg­ends.

If the name sounds fa­mil­iar, we’ve done our jobs cor­rectly. We’ve fea­tured their crafts­man­ship on th­ese pages be­fore; hell, we even have a tele­vi­sion show with them! But Eric Bizek and his crew have built a fine rep­u­ta­tion state­side for restor­ing the most soughtafter ve­hi­cles to ever come from Ja­pan. Ul­ti­mately, Daniel chose JDM Leg­ends be­cause they shared the same vi­sion: to keep the Z as it should be, in a pe­riod-cor­rect state. “As great as some sugges­tions were, I didn’t want to swap in a newer, fuel-in­jected mo­tor with tur­bos or add a Rocket Bunny kit,” he ex­plains. “After see­ing one of [JDM Leg­ends’] projects at JCCS up close, I knew I’d found a shop that could un­der­stand what I wanted to achieve.” Eric picked up Daniel’s Z at the fol­low­ing JCCS and be­gan to work on it over the course of an­other year, which is where our Dis­cov­ery show came into play.

Since this car was al­ready roughly 40 per­cent com­pleted by the time Daniel and Eric de­cided to put it into the show, ev­ery­thing had to be dis­as­sem­bled so the crew could film its assem­bly prop­erly. “Not only was my car be­ing built by artists, but I was for­tu­nate enough to have it doc­u­mented and im­mor­tal­ized for tele­vi­sion,” he says. Noth­ing is over­stated on the build, nor is it heav­ily mod­i­fied by Su­per Street stan­dards, but it’s just the way Daniel likes it, “a new but old­school car that looks like it came off the assem­bly line.”

The orig­i­nal (num­bers-match­ing) L24 was go­ing to be re­built, but after some con­sid­er­a­tion (and per­sua­sion from JDM Leg­ends), choos­ing car­bu­re­tors would be a true pe­riod-cor­rect move, and so it was de­cided. From a cost stand­point, what could’ve been done with a 2.4L could in­stead yield even greater re­sults with an L28 from the Dat­sun 280ZX. More power, no-brainer, and Daniel still has his orig­i­nal mo­tor just in case. From a driver’s per­spec­tive, the L28 with triple carbs re­tains the “smell, sound, and feel of a ’70s-era car.” It’s ana­log, noth­ing’s drive-by-wire, and it drives uniquely Z, al­though mod­ern en­hance­ments, like the coilover sus­pen­sion, pro­vide it with a dif­fer­ent, safer type of com­fort.

And with ad­justa­bil­ity, it can be set up for dif­fer­ent types of driv­ing that Daniel likes to do, which mainly in­volves long stretches of canyon roads on the week­ends. But JDM Leg­ends doesn’t only mod­ify the ar­eas that can be seen in plain view; the com­pany al­ways goes above and be­yond to re­place hard­ware, spend­ing ex­tra time to get ev­ery­thing done right. You want per­fec­tion, they de­liver it.

“You can’t find a more pas­sion­ate group of guys than JDM Leg­ends,” Daniel adds. “They know more about Ja­panese cars than many other self-pro­claimed ex­perts. Their deep un­der­stand­ing of tun­ing cul­ture and ev­ery­thing that sur­rounds the essence of pe­riod cor­rect­ness is what makes them so much more au­then­tic.” No cut cor­ners, full doc­u­men­ta­tion ev­ery step of the way, and pre­cious time in­vested is what made Daniel’s resto­mod dreams come true. “They told me that if they were to build a white Z for them­selves, this is how they’d do it. That says a lot, and re­ally is the best com­pli­ment I could get.”

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