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Old School--Cars at least two decades old, mostly refers to early '70s late '60s vehicles.

Evan Griffey
Aug 7, 2002

Old School--Cars at least two decades old, mostly refers to early '70s late '60s vehicles.

Old school cars have one distinct advantage over those higher up on the evolutionary chain--limitless performance possibilities thanks to their smog-exempt status. This means that, as long as you keep the original engine, the sky is the limit--bolt on that boost, wire up that stand-alone engine management computer, fog that manifold with nitrous, because you are untouchable by the smog Nazis. If you decide to swap engines, you must live by the emissions standards of that engine's year of manufacture, so swapping to an early engine would be the way to go. The rules for smog exemption were set a few years ago with 1973-and-before vehicles qualifying for a rolling 30-year exemption, beginning in 2003. The problem is this ruling is a political football and is challenged more often than a big league umpire.

Old school has its "go-to" cars like the rotary-powered R100, RX-2, RX-3 and RX-4 as well as Toyota's Corolla and Starlet. When it comes to the Nissan/Datsun badge, look no further than the original Z and the 510. Both of these cars have a cult following and both make good use of power modification therapy. It is a bit of a surprise that these two examples, which are the best examples we have seen, are owned by the same person; Tod Kaneko.

Kaneko has a reputation for eyeing the details and these super-tuned Datsuns are living proof of how deep his commitment to perfection is.

Tod Kaneko's 1972 Datsun 240 Z

The original Z has seen a revolution in the last few years with refurbished stockers going for big bucks. We think the interest is great, but going stock cuts the excitement factor exponentially. Datsun's L28 in-line six is a masterpiece featuring stout main journals, plenty of torque and plenty of room to grow in the engine bay.

Kaneko cut to the chase and had the block bored and stroked to 3098cc, fitted with a beefier diesel-spec crank, Saenz forged rods and JE pistons. The pistons, which give the L28 a boost-ready 8.5:1 compression ratio, have been thermal and friction coated by HPC. The short block runs a high-volume Datsun Competition turbo oil pump and uses ARP fasteners throughout.

The L28 is topped with an E88-spec cylinder head stuffed with the good stuff. The old school approach to cylinder head science was shaped into 21st century specifications, as both the exhaust and intake ports were groomed for high flow and the combustion chambers were reshaped and now displace 40cc each. The valve area was unshrouded to encourage optimal quench and maximum efficiency and power. Oversized Ferrea stainless-steel valves and Nissan Competition springs and retainers work in conjunction with modified rockers and a custom JG Engine Dynamics cam to unleash the power.

It is a good thing the head was prepped for high flow, because Kaneko employs a specially designed Garrett prototype HKS GT3540 ball-bearing turbo to produce the pressure. On the hot side, the turbo runs an 84-trim (68mm) wheel in a .63 A/R T-31 turbine housing while the compressor section consists of a 56-trim (82mm) wheel and a .70 A/R housing. Both housings have been ExtrudeHone processed for added flow and research indicates the turbo should support 475 to 500 hp, we can't wait to see a dyno chart on this bad boy. The turbo is secured to an ExtrudeHoned factory cast manifold and runs through custom thin-wall stainless-steel piping and a HKS front-mount intercooler with integral blow-off valve. From the intercooler, boost is introduced to the engine via a super trick carbon kevlar intake plenum and polished 42mm individual TWM throttle bodies. A Tial 40mm wastegate keeps the GT-series hairdryer spooled and ready to go.

With boost in the equation, it is a given that the '72 vintage fuel system needed a big update. Two Bosch pick-up pumps are joined by a Bosch high-pressure unit. This trio feeds a system that features balanced and blueprinted 720cc injectors.

The ignition system was dramatically updated and converted to a custom crank-fire set-up by Jon at Ziel Motorsports. The conversion that includes MSD components, was mandated by the DTA engine management system, which was also installed and programmed by Jon. The DTA system is a fully programmable unit from Europe and is relatively new here in the States. The remainder of the direct-fire ignition system was modified with Vitek plug wires and Denso Iridium plugs.

For cooling, the L28 runs a super trick thermostatically activated oil cooling system and a custom Ron Davis radiator.

Power is put to the pavement by a later-model 280ZX Turbo transmission outfitted with a 3.90:1 ratio limited-slip differential. Gear selection is initiated by a lightweight HKS flywheel and a Clutch Specialties six-puck, sprung-disk clutch. Once torque is put to the tarmac, the Z is kept in control by a heavily reworked suspension. The factory struts were shortened and fitted with Design Products coil-over collars and Tokico five-position adjustable cartridges. The coil-overs use Eibach springs (225 lb. front, 250 lb. rear) and pillow ball mounts to help straighten out the twisties. All mounts and bushings have been updated to Delrin and polyurethane to keep it real on the street. Stopping power has been addressed with a Porsche 993 Twin Turbo brake conversion executed by Ziel Motorsports. The 993 binders feature 330mm vented and drilled rotors, factory Porsche Brembo four-piston calipers and Ziel-spec aluminum hats. The Datsun's contact patch is provided by three-piece Chevlon Sport wheels special ordered from Japan by DAZZ Motorsports. The mesh-style aluminum (17x8 front, 17x9 rear) is wrapped with Dunlop SP2000 rubber.

Outside in, the Z has custom touches aplenty. The body was massaged with the addition of a front airdam and European bumpers and turn signals. The Z was then attacked with 12 coats of red/orange by Foreign Auto in Torrance, Calif. In the cabin, the 240Z retains a lot of its original stuff. Sparco Torino seats, harnesses and Sparco Flash 5 steering wheel and pedals, a stealth-installed Pioneer sound system along with HKS gauges and controllers are the only departures.

We have tried to summarize the facts here to allow for bigger photos. Pictures are worth a thousand words and in this case every word screams "perfection."

Tod Kaneko's 1973 Datsun 510

When it comes to Datsun 510s, Kaneko's orange monster is at the zenith of the species. Kaneko has taken a different tack with this one by filling the 510 with rotary power. This is an old school tradition, but the usual converts are Datsun 1200s or early Corollas. The swap was handled by Super Mario of TSR, who is a 510 expert in his own right, owning four tweaked five-and-dimes including a right-hand-drive edition.

The 510 runs an early 13B that has been street ported by Mike Porter of Redline Performance. The engine was prepped for pressurization with low compression factory rotors and custom 2mm apex seals. An ExtrudeHone processed Redline-fabricated exhaust manifold positions a trick prototype HKS GT-series turbo. The turbo runs a compressor side similar to the Z; a 56-trim BCCW-18 wheel and .70 A/R housing, but goes exotic from there. The center section utilizes a real CART/indy full ball bearing system and the turbine wheel is a Gen III Inconel 76-trim unit contained within a .84 A/R divided tangential housing. This turbo spools quickly and is able to make big boost at the high engine speeds attained by a tuned rotary powerplant. Boost is regulated by a Tial 46mm Sport LeMans wastegate, HKS manual boost controller and M's PRO fuzzy logic controller. Boost is guided through an HKS Skyline front-mount intercooler before reaching a 50mm TWM throttle body and port-matched Redline intake manifold. The stainless tubing was created by Super Mario (Mario The Toe as his friends call him). As with the Z, a carbon kevlar intake plenum is a beacon of Kaneko's high standards and is a real attention getter under the hood.

On the fuel front, four 880cc main injectors are joined by two 330cc secondaries. Go juice is supplied by twin Bosch pumps and an SX adjustable regulator. Spark is handled by a stock FD3S RX-7 direct-fire coil pack enhanced with MSD boxes, MSD wires and NGK plugs.

The 13B is governed by a MoTeC M4 Pro stand-alone system installed by Brian Sakata of Motorsports Electronics. This install is impressive and used mil-spec connectors throughout. It is nearly a certainty wherever there is a high-output 13B and MoTeC engine control, rotary racer/tuner Abel Ibarra can't be too far behind. Ibarra handled the tuning of the 13B, delivering smooth response and big power.

The driveline consists of a RX-7 Turbo II gearbox, Racing Beat flywheel and Clutch Specialties clutch assembly. The rearend runs a 300ZX limited-slip diff with a high-capacity finned cover from Datsun Competition.

The 510's bodylines were made more racy with custom sheetmetal fender flares and chassis rigidity was improved by stitch welding the unibody framework. The hood was vented by grafting in a Suzuki GSX-R side vent grille while a BRE spoiler adds further racy appeal to the Datsun. European signals, BMW 2002 stainless mirrors and new chrome and weather stripping help the 510 cheat time. The old timer was painted old school style in the garage in an orange/red hue; a bit more "orange-y" than the Z.

The 510's cockpit is adorned in carbon fiber and features an impressive six-point chrome-moly roll cage. Momo seats and a Momo tiller get the Datsun down the road, while a gaggle of Auto Meter gauges keep an eye on engine functions.

Like the Z, the 510 runs a factory-based coil-over suspension. Here, Ground Control threaded collars are joined by Koni cartridges and the Eibach springs check in at 200-lb. front and 225-lb. rear. The suspension features ball mounts and adjustable sway bars front and rear and an adjustable rear cross member. The rear control arms have been stitched, boxed and plated, illustrating how the suspension is built for road circuit duty as well as show circuit duty. Braking performance is a big factor in the success of a road racer or canyon carving street car. To this end Kaneko employs 12.75-inch rotors up front and 11.50-inch rotors out back. Wilwood Dynalite calipers put the squeeze on the vented and drilled discs. Aluminum hats, special caliper brackets, stainless lines and a proportioning valve make it all work. Like the Z, the 510 runs Chevlon mesh style (16-inch) wheels, but in this application, Toyo Proxes tires are employed.

The attention to detail unleashed on both of these cars is phenomenal. The underside of these cars are more detailed than the topsides of most show cars. Under the hood aero-spec fittings, high-tech materials and leading edge tuning technology converge to vividly illustrate the potential of the old school approach.

By Evan Griffey
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