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1973 Nissan 240Z - The Passion of the Z

A little less violent view of Nissan's Holy Savior, the 240Z.

Jun 23, 2005 SHARE

Retro is almost never executed correctly. Some things are just meant to stay in one era, regardless of what the pop culture flavor of the season decides to bring back. Because whoever that singer/songwriter/insecure eight-ball junkie is, he or she is just a corporate puppet on his or her way to mainstream hell, where the future holds nothing but a scandalous Behind the Music special. So why even follow what they say? After all, they're the same people who brought back the mesh cap, which was not only the preferred hat truckers wore to alleviate the funk of head perspiration, but also the number one cap of choice for hillbilly male rapists.

So to avoid looking like a hillbilly male rapist, choose your retro correctly. Take, for example, Joshua Garcia of Corpus Christi, Texas. We met him at Tuner Bash 2005 in South Padre Island, Texas, where he won the Nissan Showoff trophy and more or less caught the eyes of every passerby, including the staff of Super Street. In his quest to bring back the past, he crafted one of the cleanest period pieces since Ben Wallace's doozer afro, a `73 Datsun 240Z. Acting as the automotive inspiration for cars such as the 350Z and 240SX, the 240Z placed the Japanese at the forefront of automotive manufacturing back in the `70s while setting the standard in the two-seater sports-car class. If anything from the `70s needs to be brought back, aside from the proliferation of liberal sex and John Holmes, this 240Z has to be on top of the list.

"I built this vehicle to pay homage to vintage JDM ZG race cars," explains Josh. When the 240Z shot out of the production lines in Japan, tuners from around the small island nation made it the ideal car to modify, similar to what the Honda Civic did in the early `90s and what the 240SX is doing now. The rear-wheel-drive 240Z sold for less than $4,000, featured a SOHC inline-six engine with two Hitachi-SU 1v sidedraft carburetors, and ran a 17.1-second quarter-mile using all of 150 hp. Though these numbers aren't head-turners for today's standards, the Japanese tuners of the `70s loved them, and eventually the passion for the Z dribbled down to the States.

Thirty-two years later, gearheads like Joshua are still affected by the Z craze. His version of the classic Z is beefier and fuses the better parts of modern tuning with the sophistication of old-school customizing. The body is dent-free and clean as if it just rolled out of a Nissan dealership, and his choice of hardware didn't alter the classic silhouette but instead accentuated it. The most notable additions are the ZG fender flares, widening the body to accommodate the similarly wide Work Equip 03 wheels, which offer Oh Snap!-evoking numbers. In the front, the Equip 03s are 15x8.5 with a -6 offset, while the rear gets broader with 15x9.5 inches and a -19 offset.

The 21st century comes in the form of carbon fiber. A BRE carbon-fiber rear wing wades in the rear, while a MSAcarbon-fiber hood rests nicely in the front. Near the hood is a European-spec 240Z front bumper, holding up the H4 conversion lighting, while Joshua's homage to JDM is represented in the side mirrors and Fairlady Z emblem.Under the hood Joshua swapped an L28 inline-six from a `78 Nissan 280Z, opting for the stronger engine and increased horsepower. In turn, he added a Cannon triple sidedraft intake manifold and Weber carburetors and gave the job of fuel regulating and pumping to Holley. The custom mandrel-bent exhaust helps the MSA 6-to-1 header do their job efficiently while providing an immersed rumbling sound in the process. The defining point of the 240Z's engine bay is the gritty original aluminum. Joshua explained that he didn't want to polish the engine, citing that he wanted to keep it true to the time period. But he made sure his horsepower numbers didn't reflect the original, estimating that his 240Z makes 200 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 196 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm.

Inside the car is where the time machine effect takes place. The seats, upholstery, door panels, dash, and console are original, painstakingly worked on by Joshua himself. He added a Grant steering wheel, a Razo shiftknob, and custom-made floor mats emblazoned with the Z logo to style the interior. Amazingly, all of this, including the complete buildup, took Joshua a mere three months to complete with the help of, in his own words, "beer, Crown and Coke, minimal sleep, and pharmaceutical abuse."

Aside from the pharmaceutical abuse, this is the proper way of going retro. He put every effort into making sure it's historically appropriate and genuinely gives homage to the OG tuners back in the day. And his pure passion is reflected in the outcome.

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