Japan is a great place. Those who have never been can only dream of the day they can go and those who have made the journey cannot wait to go back. Culturally, it’s a completely different place than America and the culture shock when an American arrives is a delightful surprise. We often look to Japan for our automotive inspirations. Though our community has progressed leaps and bounds, there is always a part of us that still looks to the Japanese for creative inspiration. The greatest part of the Japanese scene is how vast it is and how much variety exists. As a whole you would simply call it a “scene” but when you look closer, you’ll realize there are so many different styles and ways of creating their automotive masterpieces that it almost seems unfair to lump them all up into one category. Every region has their own subculture when it comes to building cars, creating distinction as you travel around the country.
What’s also great about the Japanese tuning world is that you will often see cars that are completely relatable and others that are completely mind-blowing. These are the types of builds that have you asking yourself how and why as you scour the Internet looking for more English-friendly information. These other worldly projects make Japanese tuners so intriguing, and should light a fire within us all to be just as innovative. Judging by the photos you see in this spread, you should already know what direction we’re about to take you. The paint scheme on this ‘78 S30Z is indeed wild but we should add that its appearance is most certainly not its most outrageous feature.
Knowing ahead of time that Kazuhiro Furukawa (of Osaka JDM) is friends with the owner, we made the necessary arrangements to have Noriaki Miyamoto kindly bring this ’78 S312 up to Osaka. Miyamoto is the owner of Common Snapper, a tuning shop based in the Mie prefecture (about an hour’s drive, he says) that specializes in the customization of vehicles of all types. They work on foreign vehicles as well as Japanese domestics but Miyamoto has a particular affinity for classic Datsuns and Nissans. You may have seen some of Common Snapper’s previous work; prior to this epic build, they created another S30Z that garnered quite a bit of buzz on the web. Aesthetically it was much simpler than this rendition but under the hood sat a BNR33 Skyline RB26DETT swap. Though an RB26 in anything is already impressive, what made that Z notable was the complete retrofitted R33 Skyline GT-R interior. It was truly a looker but was possibly a little too refined to be a competitive race car. With this new S30Z project, Miyamoto knew that it had to be more raw, an edgier feel. As mentioned, the green and black livery is interesting, but what hides underneath the lengthy hood of the Fairlady is just wicked. An L28 with Mikuni carbs is nice, an SR20DET is better, and an RB26DETT amazing—but knowing Common Snapper’s track record, those were all to be expected. Miyamoto had something very different in mind. He ditched the idea of pistons and connecting rods altogether and opted for a rare tri-rotor Mazda Wankel engine.
The 20B rotary engine was first introduced to the world in a Japanese-market only ‘90-‘95 Mazda Eunos Cosmo. It is the only Mazda production car to ever utilize the three-rotor engine from the factory so to see it mounted to a non-Mazda, S30Z chassis is absolutely captivating. Miyamoto-san wouldn’t divulge all the details on how he got the swap to work, nor did he have the time to explain, but he did tell us that he basically had to “start from nothing” and use his imagination to get the swap to work. Originally, the 20B came from Mazda with a twin-turbo set-up but has since changed-over to a single GReddy T88-33D turbine. With the Mazda engine in place, there was more than enough room for Common Snapper to create a custom V-mounted Blitz intercooler set-up as well as relocate the radiator. Fuel delivery comes by way of dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps, mounted in the trunk where a separate fuel cell also sits. No remains of an exhaust system exists in the rear of the car as the turbo dump pipes have been redesigned to exit through an opening made in the passenger fender.
As cool as it was for the other Common Snapper Fairlady to have a full GT-R interior, Miyamoto went with a more traditional race set-up this time around. The cockpit has been completely gutted and devoid of all creature comforts. Instead you’ll find a custom fabricated rollcage and dashboard adorned with a multitude of Auto Meter gauges. You won’t find anything else inside other than a pair of Bride racing buckets. Worth mentioning is that this ’78 Z is actually left-hand drive. Miyamoto not only enjoys his Japanese classics, he also has a fondness for USDM style. The vibrant green on black paint hides the exterior modifications but the chassis is categorically race-ready. Common Snapper has installed an OTS front spoiler and the sleek rear spoiler is a product from Esprit. Shedding unwanted weight was ideal so they’ve swapped out the heavy OEM doors and rear hatch in exchange for high-grade fiberglass pieces. A lightweight chassis is always important but he stresses the importance of reinforcing the body, especially when you’re making a substantial amount of power.
The suspension has been dialed-in with Bilstein dampers and 12K springs. Delivering 3-rotor power to the ground is a manual transmission from an FD3S RX-7 with upgraded clutch from OS Giken. What might possibly be the most prominent feature externally are the aggressively staggered Barramundi Design “Snook” wheels. In a tuning world filled with any given combination of classic JDM wheels, it’s exciting to see a completely new wheel enter the market. R33 Brembo brakes front and back help to add that Skyline-flavor to the classic Z.
Non-conformity and a unique sense of style help to make this S30Z a shining star in the ever-prominent Japanese tuning world. Miyamoto and his associates have taken a timeless classic and transformed it into a complete custom race-bred automobile. It’s a fragment of ‘70’s Nissan, with a trace of '90s Mazda, and 100% Common Snapper.
1978 Nissan S30
Hometown Iga-Shi, Mie, Japan
Occupation Boss at Common Snapper/Barramundi Design
Engine 1962cc Mazda 3-Rotor 20B; GReddy T88-33D turbocharger; Common Snapper turbo manifold; HKS wastegate; Blitz custom V-mounted intercooler; Taylor spark plug wires; Dual Bosch 044 fuel pumps; SARD fuel pressure regulator
Drivetrain Mazda FD3S RX-7 manual transmission; ATS 1.5-way limited-slip differential; OS Giken clutch
Engine Management MoTeC stand-alone engine management system; Blitz Dual SBC-ID boost controller
Footwork & Chassis Custom front Bilstein shocks w/12K front springs, Bilstein rear shocks with 12K rear springs
Wheels & Tires 17x9" -10/17x9.5" -30 Barramundi Design Snook wheels
Exterior OTS front spoiler; Esprit carbon-fiber rear spoiler; one-off diffuser; FRP doors, rear gate, headlight covers; acrylic windows; ZG fender flares; custom green/black paint
Interior Bride seats; custom metal dashboard; carbon-fiber switch panel; Common Snapper custom rollcage; Auto Meter gauges