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ZCG visits Spriso Motorsports and Oregon friends

Filed under: Events
by Alvin G @ 2:24 am on August 16, 2017


We are lucky to be part of a great Datsun community that extends into the Pacific Northwest. About five years ago our friends from Oregon and Spriso Motorsports visited Z Car Garage, and I had always wanted to visit them. Last week my family rented an RV and drove up the Oregon coast from San Jose, CA. Part of the two-week trip in Oregon included a visit with Michael Spreadbury (Spriso Motorsports), Eric Straw and Anthony Schwisow.

 

Spriso Motorsports

When we arrived at Michael’s I was pleasantly surprised to see a car show in his front yard along with some local friends! He even arranged a BBQ. The evening was filled with cool cars, food and good times.

The Cars

Keri’s 1964 SPL310
Michael built this 3-seater 1500 for his wife! This was the first time I got to see it in person and it is amazing from the SR20 engine swap to the OEM interior and custom built steelies.

 

Michael’s 1966 SPL
His personal roadster with S15 NA SR20DE, 16″ Watanabe RS-8 wheels and brilliant beige grey paint.

 

Dave Joliff’s 1966 SPL
I remember Dave from Shasta 2004. His Daytona Blue S13-powered roadster has been driven hard over the last 13 years! Still looks fantastic.

 

Diamond Dave’s SR20-powered Miata
That’s right! With Michael and Eric’s help they installed an Autech SR20DE/6-speed drivetrain into his NA Miata. It’s a perfect match and I got brisk ride in it (thanks Diamond!). In the video, you’ll see Michael zooming past us in the opposite direction!


Eric Straw’s 1984 DR30 Skyline
Eric drove down from Salem with his RB26DETT-powered R30 Skyline. If you haven’t already read about this incredibly built rarity, check out my write-up on it HERE

 
 

More cars showed up throughout the evening, including Neil’s pristine 1988 Mazda RX-7. 30k miles and original paint!

 
 

The 80’s were alive!


Dave Lum, a long-time 510 owner (Z32TT engine swap!) brought his son’s 410 wagon:

 

The Shop

Home of Spriso Motorsports and where those magical SR-powered roadsters are built!


Michael’s Bluebird project!


During the shop tour I noticed this door with signatures on it. Michael asked me to sign it but a requirement was that you list what vehicle you drove. I need to replace the “RV” with “roadster” soon.

 
Around this time I was surprised when Michael told me that Brian from Berkeley, CA was coming in his freshly restored 1967 Datsun 2000 #427!  A little context…Brian and I are both from the Bay Area with only ~40miles separating us. We have corresponded by social media and tried to meet up locally but never met in person out side of one Solvang Show. And here we were, some 600+ miles from home! We will dyno his roadster soon as it has a hopped up Hasslegren-built U20!

 
 

Sadly our good friend Anthony broke down in his 510 coming from Portland. Good news is that he mended his radiator, made it home safely and completed a track day at PIR with zero issues! His 2JZ-powered Datsun 510 wagon:

 

And eventually we hooked up for after-work cocktails in the RV in Lake Oswego 😀

Thank you Michael for organizing the get together, it was memorable!

 

The next morning we visited Silver Falls and headed to Salem where Eric’s family welcomed us to stay for the night.

Eric’s Shop

Eric is an extremely talented fabricator. His 510, roadster and Skyline showcase his skills, style and ingenuity but I was really impressed by the kitchen table he fabricated for his home. Sunset Magazine stuff. His shop is actually next to the house with enormous roll-up doors. This is where the magic happens:

 
 

That epic DR30 Skyline.
So. Much. Goodness.

 
 

I could easily spend hours in his shop, but it was getting late. We enjoyed a nice sunset picking blackberries with the kids and the next morning we headed north to Multnomah Falls.

 

Thank you Eric for your graciousness and it was nice to meet your family!
More pictures in the gallery, enjoy!

*Special Note to all magazine feature writers/photographers*

There is an absolute treasure trove of cars that deserve features in the Oregon area. Broaden your scope and check these guys out. The talent is impressive and the owners are humble.
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EVENTS: Touge California 2016 report!

Filed under: Events
by Alvin G @ 11:51 pm on April 12, 2016

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The Touge California 2016 was held April 2 on the backroads of Southern California, starting in Escondido and ending in Irvine. The 2nd annual rally covered roughly 200 miles of scenic and challenging roads through San Diego and Orange counties, including several spirited “Touge” stages through mountain passes.

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Founded in 2015 by enthusiast and JNC editor-in-chief Ben Hsu, the Touge (pronounced “toe-geh”, Japanese for Mountain pass) California is the only all-Japanese vintage road rally in the US. For 2016 Ben teamed up with rally master Patrick Strong to coordinate the route on this relaxed(or so I thought!), non-competitive event.

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The entry list for the 2016 Touge California would make any J-tin fan proud, with a banner selection of 28 Japanese classics from the ’60s through the ’80s.  Mazda stepped up as the title sponsor for the event, rolling out classics like the 1975 Rotary-Engine Pickup (REPU), 1985 RX-7 GSL-SE and a 1978 GLC compact hatchback from its Heritage Collection–all to be driven not just for display!

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We participated in this year’s rally behind the wheel of my 1967.5 Datsun Roadster.  I made the 460 mile journey down to San Diego from San Jose with no hiccups, big thanks to ZCG for the suspension refresh, quieter exhaust and rally prep.  Requisite navigation duties were handled by my brother-in-law Jun K. who resides in La Jolla. On Saturday morning Jun and I drove to the meeting spot and rally start at Lake Wolford, Escondido. I don’t think either of us were prepared for the ensuing adventure!  Upon arrival we were greeted by just over 2 dozen rad Japanese classics:

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The lot was a paradise of vintage Datsuns, Mazdas, Toyotas, Hondas, and a lone Mitsubishi and Subaru. I was immediately drawn to a fellow Datsun Roadster painted in a shade similar to Sora Blue. Owned by John S from Nissan Design America, the 1965 SPL310 was very stock right down to its charming, original hubcaps. The 4-speed shifter did however hide a full 5-speed transmission from a later 2000 model roadster! Bonus points for sporting matching shoes:

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After checking out the cars, rallymaster Patrick Strong briefed drivers and handed us our Route Book, door magnet and “white envelope”(more on this later). At 11am the rally was underway!

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Our first checkpoint would occur 35.9 miles later in the town of Julian, where event coordinators provided us with warm apple pie, of course!

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While enjoying the pie I also enjoyed this tasty specimen, a very rare 1970 Mitsubishi Colt Galant GTO owned and restored by Matt De Mangos:

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A fairly brisk pace with changing scenery led us to a lunch stop at near Lake Henshaw, but not without some casualties. Danny M’s sweet flared S30 lost its rear brakes. The 1977 Honda Civic had to be towed and the REPU truck had exhaust issues. The ultra-rare hubcap from John S’ Fairlady roadster jettisoned somewhere, but we hear he later found it!

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Danny M. bailed out of the Touge safely and caught some of us on video leaving The Round Up Grill, enjoy!

 

Media coverage of the event was also impressive with photographers seen staged at various spots ahead of the rally drivers. Larry Chen, editor of Speedhunters, Andrew Golseth of Petrolicious, Mark Vaughn from Autoweek and even the Petersen Automotive Museum attended. Even JNC’s Ben Hsu was hard at work:

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We were given ample time to enjoy breathtaking views near Mt. Palomar and attack more challenging roads ahead:

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Any notions of this event being “relaxed” and “easy” were thrown out the door as we tried to chase down Smith M’s red SA22 RX-7 on the Touge stages.  The “Couser Canyon Touge” was particularly thrilling with endless high radius turns and a sheer drop-off with no guard rails present. Outside of a track day at Laguna Seca, this 6 miles stretch was enjoyably intense!  As we caught up to Smith at the stop sign he said with a smile “I don’t think anyone is behind us anymore”.  Smith’s RX-7 was shakotan low sitting on NOS vintage Enkei barrels–10″ wide with stretched tires. He drove it passionately 🙂

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What if you didn’t want to drive spiritedly? Afraid of overheating? Remember that “white envelope” we received at the rally start? Inside were alternate routes to ensure that cars/drivers could make it to the next checkpoint safely. The consequence of breaking the seal on said envelope? If opened, participants would not receive the coveted “I survived the Touge California” sticker. One car we were totally impressed by was Mark N’s 1972 Subaru GL coupe. This FWD , 80hp green machine survived indeed…even if it had to be floored in 1st gear to make it up the steepest grade!

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The event coordinators thoughtfully included fuel stops between checkpoints (likely to quench the large rotary contingencies’ thirst!). Speaking of rotary-powered cars these two Mazda RX-2s were ultra-clean and made all the right noises. Loved the different flares and exhaust treatments:

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With over 150 miles under our belts the journey continued on, taking us to Lake Elsinore, over the Ortega HWY to the PCH and our last leg to Corona Del Mar in Newport Beach. The sun was starting to set and it was fun to watch our fellow participants roll in triumphantly.

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This was also our last chance to survey some of the cars before dark, and there were a few surprises under hoods! We suspected this rather butch-looking Honda Civic to be sporting something special in the power department as it seemed to pull quickly in the canyons…sure enough it had a B18B engine swap:

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I love the first generation Toyota Celicas. We followed this TA22 for miles and noticed a un-4cylinder like exhaust note that could only come from a…

 

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…NA 2Jz swap! The transplant was done to an OEM-level of fit and finish with power steering and A/C.

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I think the most significant car to participate was this yellow Datsun 240z. Its owner was none other than Mr.K. We think he would be proud to see that his Z was being enjoyed and it was one of the highlights of the day to be carving through the hills with it.

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Mandatory Datsun content: more Z’s and a couple of 510s in attendance:

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Andrew G’s Toyota Century, complete with backlit plates was a hit with the crowds…he piloted the large luxury cruiser in opulence while on the Touge!

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Lastly, we could not forget the actual vehicle featured on the Touge California poster, Armando’s 1974 RX-4 coupe:

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With the sunset long past I noticed it was 9pm.  Jun gave me final directions to arrive at Mazda headquarters in Irvine.  We were just a few miles from our ultimate destination and final checkpoint where Ben and Patrick mentioned that we were in for a treat!

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The courtyard of the Mazda Headquarters building was lined with classic cars from their Heritage Collection up to the new MX-5, all on display while we enjoyed a catered BBQ dinner. Ben and Patrick got on stage to hand out awards: whomever completed the event without opening the white envelope received a “I survived the Touge California 2016” sticker. We were advised not to place it on our minivans.

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After dinner and dessert, it got better. Mazda PR Director Jeremy Barnes climbed into the RX- 792P race car and revved it up for us to hear the glorious tune of 4-rotors screaming:

 

To top it off, Jeremy gave us a tour of Mazda’s underground collection. This garage beneath the main building did not house “museum” pieces and Jeremy emphasized that each car was driven or in the process of restoration. It was a special treat to see cars ranging from the original Miatas that were introduced to the public for the first time in 1989, all the way to the LeMans winning and weathered rotary-powered race cars.

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After the tour, Mazda sent us off with goodie bags and Jun and I headed back down to San Diego from an 11-hour day of intense driving fun.  Kudos to Ben and Patrick for a seamless event that showcased passion for our cars and driving them. From the epic routes, Touge stages, efficient checkpoints and stellar staff, this was truly one for the J-Tin books.  I highly recommend it for all Japanese classic car owners.

 

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We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the Touge California 2016 and don’t forget to see our extensive gallery below for more pictures of the rally and Mazda’s collection. Stay tuned for another report as my trip to SoCal was not over yet! The following day I visited Nissan Design America and the Japanese Car Meet at the Petersen Museum all on the way back home to San Jose.

Datsuns Are Driven!

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EVENTS: The 2015 Japanese Classic Car Show

Filed under: Events
by Alvin G @ 6:39 pm on October 4, 2015

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Every year, one of my favorite events to attend in Southern California is the annual Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach.  JCCS is like a big reunion of old school friends, surrounded by the finest vintage metal made in Japan. The iconic Queen Mary cruise ship and the Long Beach skyline is a perfect backdrop for Zs, 510s, Skylines, Rx-7s, Rx-3s, Celicas, Corollas, Land Cruisers and other interesting Japanese old school cars!

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Founded by Koji and Terry Yamaguchi, JCCS has been running for 11 years strong now and the bar is set higher ever year. I remember the first year of JCCS, and it’s hard to believe the inaugural event was over a decade ago!  I love this show and the Z Car Garage crew keeps coming back every year to soak up the sun, see old friends and drool over some spectacular vintage builds.

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Attendance was impressive but surprisingly not over-whelming like previous years and this made photographing cars a breeze!  Sure, a bulk of the cars are the same annually but the small percentage of new cars tend to be amazing.  At JCCS we love that every pass up and down an aisle of cars reveals a new detail, emblem, decal, or set of wheels.  Also, this is a more adult car show (no loud Drake/EDM, no booth babes, no car parents towing around scraping cambered-out red Power Wheels with kids in them) and a breath of fresh air compared to the “party” vibe of the larger California shows.

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Nissan’s Debut at JCCS

The OEMs participated in record numbers this year. That’s right, in addition to Mazda, Toyota and Honda our beloved Nissan stepped up for the first time with a great showing of rare and unique vehicles from their vault. My favorite was the 1997 R390 GT1 Le Mans race car, sent over from Japan just for this event! Nissan’s collection also included included a 1975 Bluebird-U 2000 GTX, 1972 Datsun 510 and 1967 411. Our friends at JNC were lucky to drive the Dime and Bluebird over the Monterey Car Week.

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Completing the “heritage” lineup was this little/big truck combo – a 1960 Datsun 1200 “surfer” Van towed by a 2016 Nissan TITAN XD pickup. Fingers crossed this new diesel rig “passes” emissions. Ha!

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Here are few of my favorite Nissans and Datsuns, starting with that not-so forbidden fruit commonly known as the hakosuka.

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There was no shortage of Skylines this year and my favorite was Eric Khamchan’s KGC10. It’s racing livery removed from previous shows revealed a stunning shade of metallic blue. The killer stance with wide, gun-metal Watanabe wheels stuffed under the flares set this one off from the rest:

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We first saw this short-nosed Skyline at the Solvang Datsun Roadster Show and were surprised by its intact “surf line” rear fenders,  G-series 4-cylinder power and super rare Hayashi Racing Techno Phantom wheels:

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Eric Bauer’s  Hako sported period-spec goodies throughout like these Dunlop CR65 tires and C-pillar vent:

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The only 4-door with molded rear flares sitting pretty on deep step-lipped SSR MKII wheels:

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Another red Hako with gold Watanabe’s and a striking peanut butter interior:

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Finally, this Kaido themed racer replete with external oil cooler, livery and side-exit exhaust:

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Z-Car Extravaganza

Z cars from all generations were in full force with cars spanning the tarmac near the Queen Mary to the bayside lawn.  I’m a big fan of subtle modified Z’s but I can also appreciate pristine, bone-stock examples and the occasional shakotan build. This S30 had subtle body-colored flares, deep Simmons wheels and a neatly executed RB25DET engine swap:

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By contrast Richard Madlangbayan’s RB25DET-powered S30 is wildly flared with retina-searing paint and extensive aero.  To-die-for NISMO LM GT2 wheels were re-barreled and stepped up to 18″ by FiveOneWheels. Check out the rear diffuser, side skirts and spolier too:

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This was my first time seeing Kevin Yeung’s “White DevilZ” in person. It had some ludicrously sized fenders, WORK Equip 03 wheels with a huge wing and more aero. My favorite part? The L-series powerplant force-fed by an HKS turbo kit. I think I overheard Kevin telling a fan that “he had plans to track it”…

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The guys from JDM Legends displayed this immaculate, super sano S30. From the iconic Watanabe wheels to the triple-carb’d L-series this car was a real treat to view.

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