"Just pick the two cars that you liked the best." Seems simple enough, right? Web editor Bob Hernandez and I just had to march through the lawn of Shoreline's (Long Beach) Marina Green Park and gawk at over 400 cars in order to choose two we thought stood out amongst row after row of pristine builds. Oh, and also photograph over 400 cars; take care of multiple social media posts as well as a few Facebook Live videos and collect a few iPhone video assets. Ok, not all that simple.
If there's any car-related event throughout the year that I wish I could attend without any work responsibilities, it's JCCS. The vibe is welcoming, the cars are all over the board, from the obscure to the more popular and highly modified and everything in between. It would be a nice change of pace to just pick them apart rather than racing against the clock. Regardless, we were tasked with choosing two cars to receive the coveted Super Street awards, and as you might expect, that was the toughest part of the day.
I'd be lying if I said we spent adequate time at each and every single car to really dig in and check out the endless details along with understanding the builder's vision, as that just wasn't possible given our workload. Instead, we just left it open and waited for those few that forced us to walk back in for a second or third, much closer look, forgetting for a moment about the time crunch entirely, and these two builds did just that. They might not be the most period correct, produce the most power, or have the rarest of parts attached in comparison to this car or that, but overall, the combination of style and execution really impressed us. There's no score sheet, no agenda, just two cars that we couldn't get enough of.
Competitor No. 61
1972 Datsun 510
There are a thousand ways to build a 510 and it feels like we've seen just about all of them. The platform is user friendly, in that it's an affordable platform to start with, works well with a number of engine swaps, and has a solid amount of aftermarket backing.
Of course, a 40-plus-year-old chassis is going to require some time and money to get up to standard, and some do the bare minimum while others, like Gil, go all out.
Like all car builds, the wheel and tire choice can make or break the look, feel, and performance of a 510. Gil nailed it with his gold/polished Work Equip 40s that not only provide the perfect fit, but also complement the Tangerine paintwork. Wilwood brakes slow things down and a QA1/KYB AGX combo give the sedan that perfect height and a huge jump forward in handling compared to the factory goods.
Front and rear, SSS head and taillights replaced the stockers, the original mirrors were substituted for fender-mounted versions, and the L.E.D. headlights share space with polished velocity stacks. Peek into the driver's side inlet and you get a good look at the turbo that helps power this 510.
SR20DET swapped 510s have been around for years. However, stand over Gil's engine and you take note of just how much work went into making the bay a little cleaner and a little more detailed than the next guy's. More than just a pretty face, the S14-derived SR block was stuffed with CP forged pistons and Manley rods before being fastened to a ported and polished head with ARP hardware.
Ikeya Formula ITBs and Tomei Poncams join a Garrett GTX3071r to move air along while ID1000s maintain fuel delivery. The valve cover received some custom pinstriping and a nod to Gil's crew, Team Wildcards, and much of the bay's sheet metal has been reworked for a smooth, seamless look. For our money, it doesn't get any better than a built and swapped 510 with nice paintwork and a laundry list of minute details.
1971 Datsun 240Z
If you've been around this industry for a while, then you definitely recognize the name PJ Bonifacio. Responsible for paint and bodywork on far too many builds to count, many have taken home countless awards and ended up in magazines galore. So right away, the two-tone paint and smooth finish drew us in.
Of all of the cars on display at JCCS, Datsun is by far the most popular and represents the largest portion of the show. At this show, Z cars in particular are everywhere and in every conceivable state of restoration or restomod, depending on the build direction. Beyond the custom paint you'll find a set of 15x9 rollers wrapped in Toyo R888s that cover Wilwoods all the way around and the fender flares and bumpers have been painted gloss black to play off of the dark roofline.
Inch a little closer and with the hood up, you realize the carbureted heart is a thing of the past, replaced by Nissan's RB26DETT thanks to a set of McKinney Motorsports mounts and fitted with an N1 turbo upgrade.
The valve cover sees the same gloss black treatment you saw on the exterior while the intake manifold is coated gray for some added contrast along with the HKS fuel rail. Putting the power to the pavement is a 5-speed RB25 trans complete with an OS Giken twin plate clutch, flywheel, and LSD, and at each corner you'll find Techno Toy Tuning coilovers.
Plop into the custom seats and you're eye-to-eye with a set of DEFI gauges, while just above is an alcantara covered headliner. The rest of the interior is occupied by an Autopower rollcage in case things go bad. Knowing PJ's previous work, this Z fits right into his ever-growing resume of classic builds.