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1972 Datsun Fair Lady Z - Pick Your Five

Kelvin Hiraishi's Rb25det-Powered Rhd '72 Datsun Fairlady Z Saved My Day

Roel Concepcion
Aug 1, 2009
Photographer: Scott Dukes

Facebook's "Pick Your Five!" is by far one of the most addicting applications on the site, from the "Five Things I Don't Leave the House Without" (my #1 is my iPhone) to the "Five Biggest Pet Peeves" (my favorite option was Vietnamese people who claim to be "half French") to the "Five People You Want on Your Side in a Bar Fight" (Jesus seems to be on everyone's list. Who knew JC loved fighting?). These top five lists can cover any topic you like making it another bottomless pit of more crap that I would rather not know about my friends. Yet, it's addicting because for some reason Facebook users love creating and filling out these lists, evidenced by my live feed mainly consisting of friends' "Five Favorite Movies of All Time," "Five Bands I've Seen Live in Concert," "Five Albums that Shaped Me," and "Five People I Want to Punch in the Face." Sure, I've done my fair share of top fives but it became endless and grueling until I came across one that actually stumped me: "Five Cars I Want in My Garage."

At first, I thought it'd be easy. I went with the classics: 1) '85 Toyota Corolla GTS, 2) '97 Nissan Skyline GT-R, 3) '57 Porsche 550 Spyder, 4) `71 Datsun 510 2-door, and 5)... I pondered the fifth one for hours as if it were the one high school exit exam question that will either get me the diploma or send me back to the 12th grade, ultimately sealing my fate as the pervy cashier at Starbucks. I was torn between another Japanese classic ('88 Honda CRX, '92 Toyota Supra) or an European throwback ('54 Mercedes-Benz SL300, '65 Jaguar E-Type coupe). The experience was as painful as reading a friend's multiple " Five Places Where I've Lived" list; I got it, dude, you're a freakin' world traveler!

The workday was almost ending when I decided to log out of Facebook and look at new porn videos when I received the assignment to write about Kelvin Hiraishi's RHD '72 Datsun Fairlady Z RHD. It was a definite sign from bar fighting jiu-jitsu Jesus! It was then that I typed in my fifth car and pressed "Submit" because after looking at Kelvin's classic Z, I would be crazy not to want that in my fantasy garage.

Lathered in an orange paint from a '69 Chevy Camaro, the Z is as clean as the day it came out of the Japanese production line nearly 40 years ago. Every body part was painted separately by the Pablo Picassos of the tuning industry, the people at P.J Bonifacio Auto Design Inc., who also restored each component small and large with new replacements. They changed every fastener, latch, rubber trim and weatherstrip material. They also updated the tinted front glass and more importantly, refurbished the fender mirrors, bumper, grille, lens, lighting system, parking brake lights and passing lights all to its original Japanese specs. No details were spared in the restoration of the Z's exterior, and naturally so, since classic cars like this Z should be treated like rare museum pieces. This nod to the past is also what inspired the Z's owner:

"I want to use this Z car to capture wonderful memories from the past, draw former friends together and build new friendships," explained Kelvin, "I also want this car to help overcome product deficiencies with modern technology as reasonably as possible and preserve the history and accomplishments of Mr. Yutaka Katayama, the father of the Z car and former president of Nissan/Datsun USA; Peter Brock of BRE fame; John Morton and Jim Fitzgerald, drivers extraordinaire; and Bob Sharp of Bob Sharp Racing fame."

If most of those names didn't register, it's really time to brush up on your tuning/racing history. Kelvin, on the other hand, has a good excuse for being the venerable walking historian when it comes to Japanese cars. His current 9-to-5 is Mazda North American Operation, Director of R&D Engineering, which means that Kelvin is solely responsible for at least one thing going right (or wrong) inside your Mazda (just don't blame him for your homemade cold-air intake warping your Miata's cylinder head.) His hobbies outside of work obviously include the building and restoring of the only car that can be labeled as the godfather of modern tuning. Without the Fairlady Z, who knows what kind of crap we'd be fixing up these days.

Underneath the hood of Kelvin's Z is proof that 1) Anything is possible and 2) The kick-ass combination of a fobby Chinese guy and ghetto Black man in Rush Hour 2 has been pushed back a spot in the "Five Favorite Kick-Ass/Bad-Ass Combinations in History" list. Because the top spot now belongs to the combination of an RB25DET 2.5L turbocharged engine and '72 Datsun Fairlady Z RHD. Swapped by Vildini Motorsports of Mission Viejo, California, the RB25DET in the Z's engine bay is as sick as swine flu. Though it's mostly stock, the motor does sport some aftermarket products that give it a push on the streets. But the fact that an RB25DET is sitting inside a '72 Fairlady Z should be modification enough.

Besides who needs some lame short-ram air filter when the rest of the car not only looks like it should belong inside the Petersen Automotive Museum, but also feature major chassis modifications that should belong racing at Super Lap Battle. From the Suspension Techniques front and rear sway bars to the Ground Control coilovers with Tokico Illumina dampers and Eibach springs, this Fairlady Z maybe as swift around the corner as the modern-day Z. Moving the chassis is a set of specially machined and custom-fitted 17-inch Racing Hart C4-R wheels wrapped in sticky Yokohama S-Drive tires. The wheels are as fresh as the brakes that stop them: Wilwood ventilated discs, ceramic brake pads and stainless steel brake lines. It's an overall dope chassis setup that you're not embarrassed to take to the track one day and the car show fairgrounds on the other.

But then again, who would ever be embarrassed to take this Fairlady Z anywhere? It's a classic Japanese car that has been restored to the highest of standards. If it doesn't turn new-school tuners to the old school ways, I'm not sure what will. I am sure, though, that my "Five Cars I Want in My Garage" would never be complete without a Fairlady Z, preferably one that looks exactly like Kelvin's ride. Now if I can finish off the "Five Women I'd Like To Bone," I can finally log off Facebook and get back to watching new porn videos.

Fast Facts
1972 Datsun Fairlady Z (RHD)
Owner Kelvin Hiraishi
Hometown Montebello, CA
Daily Grind Mazda North American Operation, Director R&D

Under The Hood RB25DET 2.5L inline 6, DOHC, turbo, all-stock, swapped by Vildini Motorsports with custom engine/transmission mounts and driveshaft (300ZX front yoke); custom 28" x 12" x 3" intercooler; GReddy RS blowoff valve; 200 ZR RB20 oil pan and pickup; Infiniti Q45 throttle body and TPS; Blitz boost controller; GReddy oil catch can and intake manifold; custom 15 gal. fuel cell with fuel sender and custom surge tank; Walbro GSL 392 fuel pump; Moroso aluminum radiator; Earl's oil cooler with remote oil filter block; Hose Techniques custom hoses; Megan muffler with custom 3" mandrel-bent exhaust

Drivetrain Skyline 5MT; ACT street/strip clutch kit; Power Brute LSD; R180 4.11:1 final gear

Stiff Stuff Four-wheel independent; Front: MacPherson strut with Suspension Techniques 1" sway bar and Bumpsteer (roll center); Rear: Chapman strut; Arizona Z-Car chrome moly control arms (pick-up points-geometry adjustable and increased suspension/body stiffness) with Suspension Techniques 7/8" sway bar and spherical ball joints and Wolf Creek CV joints; Ground Control coilovers (FR/RR) Tokico Illumina dampers; Eibach springs (250 lbs FR/RR); Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings Nissan Comp Strut Brace (engine and trunk room)

Brains Electronic fuel injection with stock ECU

Stoppers Wilwood Ventilated Discs: Front: 12.2" curve vane directional vented rotors, 1.25" thick, 6061 T-6 rotor center hubs, 4-pistons forged aluminum caliper w/stainless steel lines. Rear: 12.2" curve cane directional vented rotors, .81" thick, 4 piston forged aluminum w/ stainless steel lines; Wilwood Hydra mechanical parking brake caliper with full floating single piston; ceramic brake pads; Competition wheel studs.

Rollers Front: 17x7.5 zero offset; R: 17x8.5 -6 offset Racing Hart C4-R especially machined and fitted to the Z with Yokohama S-Drive tires F: 205/45-17 R: 215/45-17

Outside 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28 Hugger Orange by P.J. Bonifacio -- every body part painted separately, new hardward fasteners, latches, rubber trim/weatherstrip, tinted front glass, motorsports auto air dam, Japanese-spec (fender mirrors, bumper, grille, lens, lighting system, parking brake lights and passing light)

Inside Design Products custom RHD roll bar; Sparco Torino 2 racing seats, 6-point competition harness; Sparco Mugello steering wheel; Autometer sport and pro comp gauges; RX-8 Shift knob and adjustable brake proportioning valve

Props Daughters Kelli and Michelle Hiraishi; Jeff Hiraishi; Tod Kaneko; Raymond Lui; Larry Ikemura; Frank Kuba; Jon Mitsuuchi; Shujiro and Yoriko Otsuka; Mr. Yutaka Katayama; Peter and Gayle Brock; Fred and Betty Jordan; Adrian and Alex Villabrile at Vildini Motorsports (Mission Viejo, CA); P.J. Bonifacio Autodesign Inc (City of Industry, CA)

WWW advancedclutch.com, autometer.com, blitzperformancesales.com, eibach.com, energysuspension.com, greddy.com, hosetechniques.com, sparco.com, suspensiontechniques.com, tokico.com, wilwood.com

By Roel Concepcion
50 Articles

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