The idea of building a performance street car without the handcuffs of smog laws is an intoxicating proposition. This idea has been floating around my gray matter for years. But what do you build? What are the best old school platforms (pre 1974)? Everyone has their own ideas and such, that's cool, here are some of my thoughts on the matter.
While the Datsun 5-and-dime is a legit old school offering, I'd like to take a '67 Datsun roadster and install either a SR20DET or an RB26DETT. The car is light and rear drive and a lightly tuned engine would return big dividends. Come to think of it, a Bugeye Sprite would also take nicely to the above listed engines. I have always thought an Austin Healey with a Buick Turbo 6 would be a potent combination. A 240Z with Skyline power sounds good too. I have always liked wagons; a Toyota Corona wagon, Datsun 311 wagon or a Mazda RX wagon would be trick powered up and hunkered down.
Since we are talking about pre-1974 cars, the import gene pool only consisted of Toyotas, Datsuns and Mazdas in America back in the day. Going online and seeing the below-listed "The Old School Establishment" vehicles scroll into view with $500 price tags it is easy to fast-forward to an imagined finished product. There were many times I caught myself reaching for the phone. Unfortunately, getting to the state of tune of our cover cars requires big investments of time, effort and money; but damn, what works of art they are-and they're fast, too.
The Old School Establishment
Datsun: 510, 1200, 240Z, Roadster
Mazda: R100, RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, Rotary pick-up
Toyota: Corolla, Corona, Roadster
Datsun:510 (L20, SR20DET, 13B rotary), 1200 (13B rotary), 240Z (RB26DETT, V8), Roadster (SR20DET)
Mazda: R100, RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, Rotary pick-up (13B EFI Turbo)
Toyota:Corolla, Corona, Roadster (3TC, 13B rotary)