There's something about old school Nissan body styles that really tickles the fancy of almost every person who sees one. That might sound like a strange blanket statement, but it's true. Every single time I go out to shoot a Z car or a 510, people will stop and ask what kind of car it is, or other times they will say "I used to have one of those", "my aunt had one of those cars when I was a kid", or something along those lines. These random conversations happen literally every time I shoot a car of this vintage, but with this particular Nissan, they went a little differently.
Because the Skyline was never sold in the US, people would stop by our photo shoot for longer, stare harder, and smile bigger when proud owner Eric Auburg would reveal the origin of his beautiful 1972 "Hakosuka" Skyline 2000 GTX. And make no mistake about it, Eric is a proud owner indeed, and for good reason—he has owned this car since 2001 and has fully restored the entire body from the ground up.
Eric says that he first became interested in Skylines when he enlisted in the US Marine Corps back in 1996. Eric was stationed in Okinawa within the first year of service, and the JDM car scene immediately infatuated him. At that time, the R32 Skyline was the current generation, and Eric got his feet wet with a couple of that body style in various trims.
When his deployment was about to be up, Eric looked into the cost of shipping his R32 back to the US through a company called MotoRex (seasoned SS readers will remember this name) but sadly found out that the price tag of nearly $20,000 USD was much more than he could justify spending. At this point, Eric decided to sell his R32 and pick up an older Skyline that would be easier for him to import into the US. I should pause at this point and mention that importation laws vary state by state, so do your homework if you want to bring in a JDM car. Eric was going to be living in Alabama at the time, so he was able to bring in the car without too much trouble. After a short while, the motor popped and Eric took the opportunity to begin a ground up restoration. And we do mean "ground up" in a literal sense—this car has been stripped, torn apart and rebuilt in every way. Eric tells me that it was (not surprisingly) extremely difficult to get certain parts for his restoration, but that his family ties to Japan made it more manageable. He also made use of a very clever work around for remanufacturing some parts that he simply couldn't find at all, regardless of the family ties at the source. Eric used a local HVAC manufacturer to create new replacement parts from the old rusty pieces he brought them as "templates." To the HVAC guys, machining a new interior support bar for an old Japanese Skyline is no different than making a complex heating vent, so it was this realization that made Eric's life much easier.
The rebuild process took a total of about four years Eric recalls painfully, a process that was prolonged by a US customs technicality; a wrong phone number cost Eric about nine months of waiting time. Talk about frustrating, I can only imagine some of the correspondence that must have gone into sorting that out. The restoration process was not restricted to bodywork though, Eric also threw in a fully built 3.1-liter stroker motor. This motor is really something special too, because it has been built in a way that Eric calls "period correct." What he means here is kind of a combination of things. Eric took a lot of time to research the ways in which Japanese tuners of the 70's were able to make such potent L-series motors (JDM cars were making over 300 horses in some instances, a very uncommon thing for a USDM L-series to achieve at that same time) and he was able to come up with a very reliable and powerful motor of his own. Eric's setup is actually converted to fuel injection and runs off a custom ECU, something that makes his car unique and stand out. The fact that it's ridiculously clean inside and out also help make the car pop from the crowd, and Eric is proud of that.
Eric is returning to Japan next summer, and he plans to bring the Hakosuka with him. After all, he has put this much effort into restoring a car that many Japanese consider almost sacred, so he wants to show everyone who doubted him what a fantastic job he has done despite all the, for lack of a better word, haters. And for that, we salute you Eric. It all goes to show what hard work, dedication, lots of time, and LOTS of patience can get you.
1972 Nissan Skyline 2000 GTX
Occupation: US Marine Corps
Engine: 3.1-liter Datsun L20 inline-6; Rebello custom .520 lift camshafts; oversized NISMO competition valves; ISKY valve springs and retainers; ARP head studs; Trust MLS head gasket; Kenmeri mechanical timing components; 89mm bore 83mm stroke blueprinted and sleeved block; 10.0/1 compression Escort pistons and rings; LD28 V07 crankshaft; BHJ single groove pulleys w/trigger wheel; ported head; TWM 48mm throttle body, intake manifold, fuel rail, fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator; Redline distributorless crank fire; Optima battery; Earl's AN fittings & hoses; powdercoated valve cover
Drivetrain: 5-speed Datsun transmission; 3.90 LSD; SPEC Stage 2 clutch; lightweight flywheel; CV Axles DR30 axles
Engine Management: Redline Webber stand-alone ECU, tuned by Paul Bischoff at OSR Speed Shop
Footwork &: Chassis DR30 coilovers (f); Tokiko 8-way adjustable shocks (f); Cusco upper mounts (f); GAB struts (r); Victory 50 strut tower bar (f); full polyurethane bushing set; strengthened subframe supports and rocker panel trays
Brakes: Z32TT brake conversion w/Brembo calipers (f); S13 brake conversion (r); stainless braided lines (f/r); 15/16" Nissan master cylinder; KGC110 GT brake booster
Wheels &: Tires Work Equip 03 wheels 15x8.5" -9mm (f) 15x11" -44mm (r); Dunlop Direzza DZ101 tires 195/50R15 (f), 275/50R15 (r)
Exterior: fully restored body; G35 silver paint by Bond McKenzie of Superior Paint and Body, Birmingham AL; Works headlight covers & over fenders
Interior: custom 6-point rollcage; Omori gauge cluster, speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, battery life, oil pressure, water temperature and vacuum gauges; custom upholstery by SOS Upholstery
Thanks You: my wife and kids for their understanding, support and sacrifices, my friends and fellow Hakosuka owners Paul and Wayne for late night wrenching help, my Japanese family and friends for part support, encouragement and guidance from those who owned this type of car back in the day, Uchida-san at Victory 50 and Nagao from Happy Pizza for their help in finding rare or aftermarket parts, Bond McKenzize for paint and body magic, the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan for providing deployment opportunities that lengthened my build time (but provided necessary funds through combat pay,) the guys on HybridZ.org for all their knowledge and help with keeping L6s on the road, Super Street for this opportunity, and Koji and Terri for keeping JCCS growing and going.