Restomod builds, especially those based on 1970s-era Japanese icons, are currently all the rage in the custom car world. And while many builders have established a genuinely solid grasp of how to make it all work, few possess the know-how and laser focused vision that the emerging Japanese resto-heroes at Speed Forme do.
The brand's name came about only in recent years, but the actual shop where countless cars have been repaired, painted, and restored to perfection has been around for quite some time. Motors by Shape is where the painstakingly detailed process of proper restorations was done, and eventually created a spin-off of sorts known today as Speed Forme. Offering a full line of high-quality goods specifically geared toward the legendary Z-cars of yesteryear, it was only fitting the group develop their own stable of builds to use as examples of what they're capable of and just how good their parts look when in use. The result of their efforts is some of the best-looking Z-cars we've seen in years.
This particular car carries a familiar story in that it was in dire straits and on its way to the junkyard to rot for the next few decades. Speed Forme's Makoto Kawauchi saw some promise in the chassis, though admittedly his eye for potential has a far wider sweep than your average enthusiast. Regardless, the poor condition at that time wasn't enough to scare him off, so it was rescued and a systematic plan of attack that would take about a year to complete was immediately underway.
The sultry body lines of the legendary S30 (though, technically, this is an S31 chassis) get even sleeker with a fresh coat of Lotus Green paint that's been smothered over razor-straight body panels that have been cleared of any imperfections. A subtle carbon fiber rear deck wing gives the back end a slight up-kick, and just below, a uniquely colored taillight bezel breaks up the deep green color change.
Crouch down and you'll notice the chrome bumper that came from the factory is long gone; the lower half is now capped-off by Speed Forme's under panel. The new addition adds a modern touch to the back but still leaves space for the requisite stacked, dual exhaust exit that, in this case, is handled by a Fujitsubo system.
Step around to the side and the bottom level of that slick rear apron is met perfectly by the brand's side skirts, which feature a slight "pinch" to implement a new body line. The look gives the slender flanks of the Z a little more girth without going overboard.
The side extensions are tasty, but your eyes have been zeroed in on those carbon fiber flares since you first clicked into this story. Essentially a staple for these classic chassis, you've seen all sorts of flares used to bulk up the fenders and house wider wheel and tire packages. With Speed Forme's carbon fiber example, the rear portion of the flares make a sharp cut inward and flatten out against the car's body as they continue downward where they wrap all the way under the body. It's a unique look that not only elongates the fender arches but exposes more of the tire, which makes for an aggressive touch.
An increased view of the tires afforded by the additional real estate at each corner is well worth it, given the Dunlop Direzza rubber selected and wrapped around 17x9.5-inch, -15 front, 17x10, -20 rear Volk TE37V in a limited matte black finish.
From a stare down up front, the reworked bumper is joined by a low-hanging carbon fiber lip that's riveted on, and the ancient headlights have been updated to offer far more visibility than the '70s could have ever imagined. Modernization was obviously a focal point of the build, but the fender-mount mirrors are a stark reminder that although the scale tips toward full-blown custom rather than restoration, some of the classic touches are still very much a part of the car's charm, and an integral part of Speed Forme's formula.
To build a car this exceptional and not address the powerplant would be a crime, and Speed Form, being the law-abiding citizens they are, went all out under the hood, and didn't resort to oversized American muscle or a complex modern Japanese engine swap. Instead, an F54 block was bored over and stuffed with Kameari pistons before being carefully set in place, separated from its custom N42 head by a 1.0mm head gasket.
To take advantage of the stroker setup, Solex carburetors were brought into play on the intake side, and with the exhaust system mentioned previously, Fujitsubo's header completes the hot side ensemble. A 71C transmission was completely overhauled and brought up to spec as it's been tasked with transferring the grunt of the newfound power to the larger rear wheels and tires.
If you've encountered enough S30s in your time, then you're certainly familiar with faded and cracked dashes along with war-torn seats and sagging door panels. Plop down into one of the plush Recaro SR6 seats inside this cabin, however, and it's a step back in time as the replacement dash, center console, and door panels are spotless and retain the original factory switches and knobs for an unmistakably "then and now" approach that you can literally feel.
Of course, other modern extras are mixed in; like the Nardi steering wheel and a parade of gauges to aid in keeping tabs on that 3.0-liter problem child perched just beyond the firewall. Behind the front seats, separated by a Cusco shock tower bar, is a completely recovered rear interior that sports hints of yellow stitching to tie in with the Recaro material, HPI harnesses, and even the exterior's front tow strap and tire lettering.
From top to bottom, Speed Forme's military precision seems to touch on everything that should be changed while not disturbing the items that belong right where they are. It's a delicate dance, and one that the eager Japanese up-start has embraced for quite some time, only recently giving the rest of the world a closer at look at their detailed artwork.