Located just northeast of Tokyo, Star Road sits at the corner of a sleepy intersection, tucked behind bushes and a wall of vending machines. A mere three bays wide and a little more than 2 and 1/2 car-lengths deep, it would look like just another service station if it weren't for all the vintage Japanese automobiles sitting outside.
We're not talking about a few rusted-out Sunny trucks, either, but an all-out Datsun blitz, with a carport on one side packing row after row of donor cars and covered classics alike. It's a place where Fairlady Z restomods and retro Skyline staples come to have single-overhead cam revivals, and some of the rarest Nissan parts on the planet reside. This explains why there is not one, but two Datsun Fairlady Z sports cars in contrasting colors sitting in front of you today, both of which wear some of Star Road's finest attire.
While Americans continue to stuff big-ass V-8 engines into damn near everything with four wheels on it, not to mention how high-end Japanese tuners lean toward modern incarnations, the guys at Star Road prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. Original engines, overbored blocks, zero boost, and shit-tons of widebody attitude-that's the Star Road approach to constructing a classic.
The self-proclaimed "Vintage Car Specialty Shop" is known for taking neo-vintage restoration to a whole new level. Turning rust-begotten buckets into dream machines is the Star Road calling card, and it can all be seen via the shop's blog, which is often filled with tetanus-strewn photos of half-century-old automobiles.
But we're not here today to talk about the nitty-gritty, rust-riddled side of the business. The finished products Star Road churns out are far more glamorous, illustrated here by the forest green '75 Fairlady Z. This car may not feature earth-shattering performance numbers, but where it lacks in raw power, it more than makes up for with pure class.
Taking the tried-and-true approach to making power by overboring the block and head alike is where most of this Z's 325 lb-ft of torque materialize. Oversized 89mm pistons and forged rods give the rebuilt bottom end new life, while up top, a fully ported and polished head and loaded valvetrain allow the high-revving Datsun to reach nearly 300 hp. These modifications are fed by mirror-polished Solex/Mikuni 44mm side-draft carbs and a custom Star Road fueling system. It also packs the shop's Fairlady-exclusive exhaust, which starts with an "Octopus Foot" header and concludes with an equally aquatic "Devilfish" low-clearance muffler. Some other engine notables include a Star Road triple-core radiator and updated, period-correct components, like a Bosch fuel pump and Mallory ignition system.
The Z's FS5W71C five-speed manual transmission has been outfitted with a single-disc clutch and flywheel from ORC and comes accompanied by an R200 4.1 rear differential. Slip and slop are both negated via a limited-slip differential and short-throw shifter from NISMO.
Handling is covered in part by Star Road 30-way adjustable coilovers, perhaps the most "high-tech" component on the car. The suspension additions are accompanied by a modified power steering rack and stitch-welded chassis for improved agility and rigidity. Springs are comprised of a custom 8K front, 6K rear setup, and sit next to Star Road forged four-piston calipers up front, while a disc conversion clamps things out back. Upon closer inspection, you'll see Star Road has also outfitted this dark green Z with an oversized brake booster and a beefier master cylinder for even more stopping power.
Star Road also has its own wheel line, appropriately named "Glow Star." Available exclusively in a 15-inch diameter but ranging from a 5- to 12-inch widths, these retro-inspired alloys are about as cool and old school as it gets. This particular Z comes with a two-tone black and bronze theme, measuring 15x8.5 in the front and 15x10 in the rear.
But for as badass as those alloys are, it's the classically inspired lines Star Road creates that make it such a highly revered vintage Nissan specialist. By outfitting this Fairlady with its house-made over-fenders, front lip, and rear wing, Star Road has given fresh life to a once tired chassis, while preserving the profile its creators originally intended. Naturally, there was some serious sheetmetal work and paint along the way as well, but that goes without saying, especially when plopping 10-inch-wide wheels in the back.
Cabin mods are much like the rest of this classic Japanese sportster: tasteful and minimal. Outside of the obvious Bride seat swap, the matching MOMO carbon steering wheel and shift knob are the most notable additions to this interior, followed by a line of Auto Meter gauges, and a custom shifter and e-brake boot.
As for the "Red Wine" Z with the far bigger booty, it's almost identical to its more reserved older sister in the engine aspect and aesthetically prefers to keep things clean and retro as well. Where these two "Ladies" begin to diverge from one another is when you look at their drivetrains, with the red Z favoring an OS Giken dual clutch over the ORC single-plate design, which likely has more to do with driver preference than anything else.
Another difference is the red Z received an R32 Skyline GT-R front caliper conversion, with everything else brake-related being in the same vein as its green sister. The red Z also rocks slightly wider Glow Star wheels in full bronze and a separate offset, while Star Road's nine-piece Super Wide Kit covers everything from bumpers and flares to the rear wing and grille. Interior differences include Recaro seats instead of Bride butt-huggers, but save for that, this cabin is pretty much left bone-stock and is all the more beautiful for it.
So perhaps the greatest thing about these cars isn't what's been changed but what has been retained. It is this mindset that makes Star Road so special and such a highly desirable Nissan specialist. The crew isn't trying to remake the mold or change the game. Blending classic car customization with just enough modern engineering is all it takes to bring a once virile sports car back to life.
Personally, we find this old-school approach to car building to be a refreshing break from all the mad-cap craziness sweeping the States. Nothing against extreme swaps and insane fabrication, it's just that builds like these, which are just as timeless as the automobiles themselves, deserve some recognition and respect. Don't believe us? Try calibrating a Mikuni/Solex carb setup and then tell us if you've developed a newfound respect for OGs like Star Road.