There’s a certain nostalgic appeal that surrounds classic Japanese cars. No matter where you are, people notice and appreciate an iconic car of yesteryear in passing. It seems like nearly everyone either had or knew someone who had a 240Z at some point in his or her life. The simple beauty of these cars has stood the test of time, and they still stand out in a crowd especially in today’s age of technologically complex automobiles. Take Quoc Pham’s 240Z as a perfect example. When I first saw his car at a show some time ago, I was immediately drawn to it because of its simplistic beauty. The SSR wheels and bright-yellow paint just worked so well together visually, I immediately wanted to know more. The 240Z body really is timeless, and the tasteful and effective modifications Quoc has performed (as well as how clean the car is) tickled my old school fancy straight away. Also, it has a Skyline motor in it that’s probably worth mentioning.
I had a nice chat with Quoc about his car and set up a date to take photos. I met up with Mr. Pham in the beautiful coastal town of Newport Beach, California, a few weeks later to get down to business. An interesting fact about Orange County is the very high concentration of wealth and luxury cars. Everywhere you look, it’s a crazy house or new condo, and of course, the streets look like Lexus, Bentley, Ferrari and Mercedes showroom floors. Yet even in this posh surrounding, people on the streets and boardwalks could not help but stop and admire the small Datsun coupe, a car built more than 40 years ago. I was a bit taken aback by how many people actually stopped and gawked over the car.
What year is it? Is that original paint? I used to have one just like it! These comments seemed very strange to me, considering they came from middle-aged women, sharply dressed businessmen and even the occasional transient. But Quoc wasn’t phased it was just another day in the life of a Fairlady owner, he said.
I asked Quoc how he arrived at the decision to buy into the 240Z scene. When I was younger, my dad’s friend was a Mustang collector. He told me that if I wanted something fun and relatively cheap to get into, I should look at the Z, Pham says. He found a 240Z in the newspaper for us, and we went and bought it within just a few days. In the beginning, Quoc didn’t know too much about the car. After doing some research and working on the car himself, he fell hopelessly in love and never looked back. I’m on a couple of really good forums, which helped me out a lot with providing information to get the car where it needed to be, he remembers. Now, more than seven years later, he still owns the car and doesn’t plan to sell it anytime soon.
Over the better part of the past decade, Quoc’s Z has gone through several transformations. When I first got the car, it needed paint work. It had some minor surface rust, but for the most part it was in pretty good shape. The car ran great until I blew it up, he says with a laugh. After I broke the transmission, I wanted to upgrade to a 40mm triple-carb setup and a new head as well. I drove it around like that for a while until I had a problem with the oil squirters oil wasn’t getting to the camshafts, so they basically ground down to nothing. At this point, I was tired of the trouble of old engines. I wanted something turbo, fuel injected, a straight-6 design, and it had to be Nissan. The RB was a logical choice.
With the newfound power of the turbocharged Skyline heart transplant on tap, Quoc knew he needed to address the suspension and braking departments. There aren’t a ton of direct fitment options for the 240Z in either category, so in order to get the kind of performance he needed, Quoc put on his thinking hat and hit the forums once again. Using a set of front brake calipers from the Nissan S12 (200SX) and rear units from a late-model Maxima, the Z can now slow it’s roll much quicker than on the stock setup. In order to keep the goal of a mild street car, the suspension has been kept modest. A set of Tokico Illumina shocks paired with Tokico lowering springs work together with upgraded front and rear sway bars from TMC to keep Quoc under control through the corners.
On the inside, the Z is modest and classic in form. A set of Sparco seats and harnesses keep driver and passenger planted, while Auto Meter gauges help inform Quoc of underhood happenings. A few subtle race-inspired touches, like a Sparco 345 steering wheel and a Wilwood brake bias adjuster, finish off the interior. Clean and simple. The Z’s exterior is simple as well it’s essentially just a fresh coat of paint and some JDM Fairlady touches.
After it’s all said and done, Quoc is very happy with his car. When asked about what the future may hold, he’s not itching to change anything soon. I might go with a larger turbo, or a RB26 head and ITBs, Quoc muses, but for now he holds true to the old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’m on a couple of really good forums, which helped me out a lot with providing information to get the car where it needed to be.
Specs & Details
'70 Datsun 240Z
Engine Nissan Skyline RB25DET turbocharged inline-6
Engine Modifications RB25 engine block; RB25DET twin cam head; GReddy intake manifold, Type RS blow-off valve, oil catch can; ATI Super Damper; Flex-A-Lite twin fans; HKS cast iron bottom-mount turbo manifold, 40mm external wastegate; Walbro 255-lph inline fuel pump; Griffin double-pass aluminum radiator; Nismo thermostat; Infiniti Q45 90mm throttle body; 3 intercooler; A’PEXi power intake air filter; Blitz NR spec exhaust
Engine Management Stock Skyline ECU
Drivetrain R33 Skyline GTS-T 5-speed transmission; Nismo quick shifter; ACT Xtreme Performance street clutch; S12 R180 differential w/ 4.11 gear ratio; custom CV axles; Powertrain Industries driveshaft
Suspension Tokico lowering springs, Illumina 5-way adjustable shocks; Cusco strut tower braces (f/r); TMC 1.25 front antisway bar (1 rear), upper strut adjustable camber mounts (f/r); Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings
Interior Sparco Roadster seats, 4-point racing harness, 345 steering wheel; Auto Meter tacho, speedometer, water temp, oil temp, oil pressure, boost/vac gauges; Optima Red Top battery
Exterior Xenon Urethane front air dam; JDM Fairlady Z fender mirrors; OEM Datsun 919 yellow color; ZCC JDM tow hook
Wheels, Tires & Brakes SSR Longchamps XR-4 wheels 15x7.5 -5mm (f), 15x8.5 -8mm (r); Yokohama AVS-ES100 tires 225/50R15 (f/r); 4-piston S12-8 calipers (f); Nissan Maxima rear calipers; Powerslot Rotors (f/r); Wilwood lever brake bias adjuster; Tokico 15/16 brake master cylinder
Thanks To My family & Theresa for putting up w/ all my crap while I’ve built this car, all of my Datsun friends, Flitsjourney.com & the team at Livesockets Entertainment