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EVENTS: 2017 Solvang Datsun Roadster Show!

Filed under: Events
by Alvin G @ 1:23 am on May 4, 2017

 

The 2017 Solvang Datsun Roadster show took place on April 22. Now in its 30th year, this event continues a tradition of uniting owners from all parts of the world in a little town just outside of Santa Barbara. There is something for everyone here: shopping, food, wine-tasting, outdoor activities, and in the last weekend of April an epic gathering of Datsuns!

  
 

This year I was fortunate to bring my roadster and family to enjoy the weekend…

 
 

…and it was a fantastic show with perfect weather and close to 100 Datsuns on First Street in downtown Solvang:


Photo: Michael Anderson

On to the cars! Here are some highlights from the day…there were only a handful of 1967 2000 roadsters this year. Some of these cars are considered the “cream of the crop” with full restorations or OEM levels of detail like Mike Young’s SRL #266:

 

Winning best of show was this SR311 #0086, frame-off restored by Steve Pettersen:


This Right-Hand-Drive model had neat details like Enkei Compe-8 wheels, rear parcel shelf bracing and a km/h speedometer:

 
 

Roadsters were arranged by year and class, either stock or modified. The organizers did a phenomenal job of staging everyone!

 

Going the Distance

The Solvang Show draws roadster owners from all over the US, and world! We can always count on Jim and Susan to make the trek from Sonora, Mexico in their ’68 SRL with matching trailer.  Richard and Erika visited from the Netherlands and drove from Bellvue, Washington with their host, Ted Heaton. Catch their Roadster road-trip over on 311s.org.

   
 

Stock is Good

Solvang showcases everything from pristine to highly modified examples of roadsters. These two early 1600s were very sharp with requisite whitewall tires, chrome-ringed gauges and classy red interiors:

 

Sitting perfectly as a bookend to the low-windshield 1600s was Mike’s 67.5 SPL.  With a Solex carb’d R16 stroker, factory (high) roll bar, red interior and Watanabe wheels this car is very tasty:

 

 

Engine Swaps

Like the 510 and Z cars, the Datsun Roadster chassis accept many engine swaps and several caught my eye this year.  It is worth mentioning that this year’s show had the most SR20 swaps to date. I parked in a row of about 8!

 

I first saw this VG30-powered ’67 last year:

   
 

The S2000-powered ’69 SRL made a return appearance and it still blew my mind. Such a clean, OEM-level install:

   
 

Two SR20-swapped roadsters deserved some further inspection. John Daly’s ’67 sported a neatly integrated A/C unit on the NA S15 and a factory-like hardtop. What I thought were SSR MKii wheels were actually “Migu” units. Note split front bumpers:

      
 

Kevin Desirello’s ’69 had a simple, clean aesthetic. S14 SR20,  Z32 brakes, RS-8 wheels and clever “SR20” badging were all nice touches:


   

It is always good to see show favorites returning year after year with constant evolvement. Ted Heaton drove his Spriso Motorsports-built ’66 all the way from Washington.

 

The Plymouth Prowler Orange beauty has an S15 SR20DET with 6-speed and Ford rear end. Other nice details include wide RS-8 wheels and Mercedes G-Wagen headlights! Ted was very proud of his power-adding badges :

  
 

Trends?

If you think engine swaps are gaining popularity what other trends are developing? Hardtops are slowly showing up. With factory-like options from aftermarket companies you too can have a body-color (or any finish) hardtop for your roadster:
…[read more]





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It is no secret that Z Car Garage is known as the dyno house for vintage race cars in the Bay Area. Since 2015 we have been following Glenn Chiou’s heroic restoration of the #39 race car piloted by Loren St. Lawrence in the 1970’s. The best part, to us, is that Glenn is doing the restoration by himself and with the help of several key Datsun folks like Troy Ermish and Les Cannaday at CDM.

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Being an automotive enthusiast of meticulous nature, Glenn took the hard road of replicating this vintage race car as if it were built in the 1970’s, right down to the exact livery. No easy task! You can follow the restoration in detail on his blog HERE.

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Glenn’s goal was to run the car at Sears Point/Sonoma Raceway in June. With race day fast approaching and his first time out on the track with his completed Z, he wanted to make sure the engine was running safely. ZCG stepped in with dyno tuning to ensure his A/F and timing were correct:

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Here is the dyno run, she sounded healthy!

 

Glenn’s first race day at Sears Point was successful and drama-free!

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We are happy to report that Glenn also ran the Z at PIR a few days ago with a podium finish…38 years later on the same track his car was raced in 1977!

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Glenn, we admire you and your passion to keep the spirit of racing Datsuns alive. Thank you for bringing #39 back to life and thanks for bringing her to the shop.

 

Long Live The Z!

 




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!

…[read more]




Jobie’s Datsun 510

Filed under: Featured Cars and Projects,Performance
by Alvin G @ 6:57 pm on March 4, 2016

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It is a small world when it comes to the Datsun community and we love being a part of it. Jobie brought his Datsun 510 to Z Car Garage for dyno tuning on referral from our good friend and overall-stellar Datsun dude, Troy Ermish.

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Jobie’s Dime didn’t always look this pretty, as shown above left running a single carb Z24. James Johnson applied the paint and a year later the car was dropped the car off to Troy for a L20b/Mikuni 44 engine. Ermish Racing prepped the chassis with parts from Techno Toy Tuning on the front suspension, Troy’s Wilwood brake kit and bespoke rear suspension parts.  We are smitten by the stance on this thing, sitting perfect on nicely spec’d 14″ Hayashi Street wheels. Great choices in the interior too:

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On the dyno we saw peak gains of 8hp/4tq for a total of 166hp/157tq at the wheels. The real improvements can be seen under the curves with consistently more hp/tq throughout the rev range:

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The car is setup from open track enjoyment yet still street driven:

“I always heard Troy talking about bringing cars over to Z Car Garage for a dyno tune. I try to get the 510 on track ever other month or so. So far, it’s only been to Laguna Seca, but this year, I’m planning on track days at Sears Point as well”

Enjoy The Ride, Jobie!

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The Z Car Garage coverage continues at Speedhunters! This time photojournalist Mike Garrett features our friend Gary’s 1971 Nissan Skyline 2000GT. Enjoy the full story HERE!

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