Many of you are probably questioning why in the world are we featuring a car that is over 30 years old with pushrod technology. Many of you are also probably asking, "Are you not a high-tech magazine?" Yes we are and like they say never judge a book by its cover. At first glimpse of the pristine silver 1967 Datsun Roadster you see nothing more than a nice paint job, rechromed cosmetic pieces and rims. Big deal right? Well it is not until you take a careful look under its hood that you realize that this car means business.
Tak Kobayashi of Monterey Park, California spent the last six years tinkering with his '67 Roadster to bring it to the level it is now. As he can tell you best it was no overnight makeover. He purchased the Datsun in August of 1994 from a friend and after cruising with the top down for a couple of months, the tranny let go. Not feeling discouraged the entire powertrain was removed from the engine bay since the transmission could not be removed by itself from under the car. After realizing it was pointless to rebuild the factory transmission since most of the internal parts were either broken or corroded he decided to do the next best thing, perform an engine swap.
Being a performance enthusiasts for most of his life, Tak had a need for speed and the factory 1.6-liter pushrod engine that pumped out a measly 96 horsepower did not meet his cravings. He was able to locate a FJ20 engine (four cylinder fuel injected turbo engine from a 1986 Nissan Skyline) from the local engine depot. The engine was mated to a 1988 Nissan truck transmission and stuffed into the roadster's tiny engine bay. Tak spent the next year fitting, cutting and welding to shoehorn the DOHC 2.0-liter engine in place. Since the factory turbo manifold did not work out as planned, a four-into-one stainless-steel manifold was constructed from scratch. The manifold was designed so the turbocharger sat on top for obvious aesthetic reasons. A HKS racing wastegate relieves unwanted exhaust gases which exit by way of a 2-1/2-inch downpipe. A Borla XR-1 can muffles exhaust tones through 2-1/2-inch piping. Hot charge air is fed into an air-to-air Spearco intercooler mounted directly in front of the radiator. The chilled charge air is directed via 2-1/2-inch chromed piping to a Weber Big Throat throttle body.
Since the roadster was originally carbureted an aftermarket engine management system had to be incorporated. Fortunately for Tak a TEC II magnetic pick up was already attached to the block when he purchased it and the decision was made to use the Electromotive TEC II unit. The TEC II direct coil packs also eliminated the use of the distributor, which was a saving grace considering finding a cap & rotor for a FJ20 engine is no easy task. Next in line was to upgrade the fuel system to accommodate fuel injection. A Bosch fuel pump with new 3/8-inch line was routed from the tank to the fuel rail. After the turbo system and fuel system was constructed the entire powertrain was removed and sent for painting.
P.J. Bonifacio of La Puente, California sprayed five lustrous layers of Dupont Silver on the '67 sheetmetal. With the car back in hand Tak rewired the entire engine and interior bays with all new wires and connectors. Since all the factory gauges were not working, Tak installed a full line of Auto Meter Phantom gauges to monitor engine parameters which include: voltmeter, boost gauge, monster tach, monster speedo, water temp, exhaust temp, oil pressure quartz clock and fuel level. The entire braking system was also redone with new hard lines and hoses. New Tilton brake and clutch cylinder replaced the stock units. Next on the agenda was to redo the suspension of the Datsun. Koni twin-tube adjustable shocks with NISMO springs and leafs were added at the corners and NISMO front and rear sway bars replace the stock units.
With all the upgrading and fabricating you would think Tak was content with his awesome ride. Not by a longshot. He still plans on cleaning up the suspension by adding more chrome and upgrading the brakes and rotors. He also plans on beefing up the bottom-end with a stroker crank and forged pistons. So the next time you judge a book by its cover be prepared to have the book thrown at you because this roadster's beauty is more than skin deep.