Understeer Z Odyssey

Z Odyssey Part 1: The Realization That We All Become Our Fathers

A childhood dream is realized in the form of 1970s Japanese sheet metal, and a cross-country adventure begins.

The Dastun 240Z is one of the most iconic sports cars of the 1970s, and, I’d argue, the 20th century. It is a timeless design coupled with old fashioned Japanese quality workmanship and engineering.

I’ve tried to remember when I first fell in love with the S30, and I think I my appreciation began around 2010. At that time, I owned a 2005 WRX and was an active member of NASIOC, a popular Subaru Impreza forum. I had gotten bored one day on the site and delved into the off topic forum where I found a thread about 240Zs. I was smitten with the first image that loaded. It was metallic blue, lowered, and customized with fender flares, a shaved rear end, larger wheels, and a few other custom pieces. It was absolutely gorgeous. The modifications were simple and elegant in a period where extreme camber and two stepping at car shows was all the rage. I had never realized until that point how timeless these cars were. I vowed that day that, eventually, I would own one.

At that moment, I started keeping an eye on Craigslist. In a conversation with my father, I casually mentioned my slight obsession with them. While he isn’t a collector or a car guy in general, he spoke to me as if I was an idiot. It turned out he had owned a '70 240Z before I or any of my siblings were born. He and my mother loved that car and told me a few anecdotes about owning it. It was at that point that my desire to own one grew and I was going to buy one. Unfortunately, I was working a job that I loved, but I didn't have the disposable income to "throw away" at restoring an old car, so I had to put my obsession on hold. I remember talking to my brother about them right after discussing with my dad. "You want to restore a classic car? A 240Z? that's not really a classic though." Little did he know just how incorrect that statement was. The S30 is really starting to appreciate in value now, and some of them go for $50k or more on Bring a Trailer.

I started moving up in my company and finally became financially stable enough to seriously consider one. As time went on, I began laying the groundwork for ownership. I bought a house with a garage so I could start pursuing projects and keep my car out of the bitter cold Virginia winters. No way was I going to let mother nature reclaim through oxidation my soon to be pride and joy. My wife knew I was ready to pull the trigger on a project and was very supportive of it as I began my online search for a 240Z. In November of 2017, I finally found an example in my price range, and it was rust free. The only issue was that it was located in California.

Fortunately, I had a friend that lived within a few hours who was also a gear head. He has some cool projects as well, like a 1 of <2,000 turbo DSM Colt and a Suzuki Samurai with a VW diesel motor swap. He understood my passion and offered to make the drive to check it out.

It was a perfect project, my friend claimed. There was no rot on it: just a little surface rust in the usual spots and a “nickel” (aka a shitty Maaco) paint job. It was living outside, but the owner made sure to tell me that this was his "driver". Living outside in the arid parts of California is quite different than the east coast. Cars with exposed metal will often take years to develop surface rust, while back east you watch the chemical process take place in damn near real time. If this car had lived its life on the east coast, it would have returned back to the earth long ago. The windows were cloudy from years of sitting outside, exposed to the occasional rain storm. It had some cheap Chinese tires on it that had tread, but just looked really old. It had cheap APC seats, and the drivers side had a fairly large mouse hole in it. However, this was right up my alley; with a little bit of time and money, and this would be the perfect project car.

Read more the Z Odyssey archive.

By Unknown_Skier

I'm an avid skier, Datsun enthusiast, crappy machinist, crappier welder, really good grinder, and a big DIY'er.

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