In the 1960s, Nissan prepared to step out of its comfort zone and market by pairing with Yamaha to create the next hot sports car; the partnership provided a rather disappointing engine from Yamaha in the form of the DOHC 2.0L engine which ultimately proved not to be in keeping with Nissan's standards. The joint project was scrapped and the engine in question was eventually made into prototype and taken to another Japanese car maker - Toyota. Thus, the 2000GT was born.
With the entry of the 2000GT, Mr. Yutaka Katayama, President of Nissan USA, still saw the need for a sports car in the international market at an affordable price. Nissan's Chief of Design at that time, Mr. Yoshihiko Matsuo, was one of 10 individuals tasked with creating such a machine. Matsuo's vision was a race car in every aspect, however there were lines to be drawn in keeping with the president's US market requirements.
The collaboration created the very first Z platform car - the Nissan 240Z as it would be called in the US Domestic Market. The Japanese variant carried the now iconic Fairlady badge - so named by the president of Nissan Motors Japan, Mr Katsuji Kawamata, after his favourite musical. The Z would become Nissan's definition of cool.
Enter Chris, owner of Redline Performance Imports, and his rendition of Nissan's 280Z.
Chris has never actually driven a Z, and this makes his choice of project car somewhat peculiar. Despite not having a feel for the car, its performance and limitations as a factory production machine, he has a vision of what the Z should really be - a childhood dream come true. This project is the physical manifestation of that vision.
Building a car is an arduous task, as anyone who has undertaken a project car can attest when they had to change things up for the car to make it to the road or track. Building an ideal, however, is different. Such dedication is pure and unwavering, so instead of taking shortcuts or seeking alternatives, Chris has been steadfastly at work on this car for about 7 years now. There’s a lot of disagreement among fans about which chassis was the best; some argue the 240 was better because it was lighter, and of course it was the first Z. Being the first, there’s a pedestal on which the 240 chassis has been placed - it was flexible, which made it more nimble but alas it was unable to take high horsepower applications. Fast forward to the 280Z, the disadvantages of which were its front and rear bumpers, designed with modern pedestrian safety in mind, ultimately making them ugly. Fortunately, the bumpers can be removed for a facelifted 240Z transformation. The advantages of the 280Z come from its overall stronger chassis which made it extremely desirable in this restomod application.
The chassis was bought in the US, so it started life as a left hand drive but when it arrived in the island from California it was converted to right hand drive and work on restoring the chassis itself began. It was sandblasted, seam welded, epoxy coated, primed and painted - the new seam welds further increasing its overall rigidity and strength. Chris addressed the dated look of the stock Z with a custom upgrade to the front and rear bumpers, which flowed into custom molded extra-wide flares, increasing the aggressiveness and presence of the car. Once the bodywork was completed it was time to work on the engine.
POP THE HOOD
Pop the hood and the pearlescent engine cover really stands out but then the countless man hours poured into this engine bay are evident.
From the factory, Nissan's 280Z came with the largest displacement engine of all Z models at the time - Nissan's 2.8L L-series engine. This line of engines, while awesome in their own right, would not be destined for use in this restoration. The next logical choice? The heart of Gojira - the iconic RB26DETT. Best known for its applications in the Nissan Skyline from the late 80s to the end of the 90s, the RB-series is a direct descendant of the L-series and its spiritual successor. Should the 280Z have been built in the 90s instead of 80s, Nissan would have undoubtedly put this engine as its power plant. Chris' RB26 was imported directly from Japan, and needed some work upon arrival but looking at it now you'll find all the bells and whistles need to make it capable of reaching north of 600 HP.
There is no compromise in quality or customisation in this engine bay.
Those 600 odd horses will be transferred to the tarmac via these custom wheels from Password JDM: 3-piece forged with frosted gunmetal inserts, topped off with a ceramic coated copper stepped lip and center caps. Chris will run a 17x9 up front and 17x11.5 to the rear mounted on spacers to fill the extra-wide flares.
This two caliper set up on the rear is something special: one caliper connects to the upgraded braking system and the other to the fully independent hydraulic handbrake.
The list of modifications, albeit incomplete at the time of publication, is extensive in the best way possible. Here's what it looks like:
- OS Giken 1.5 way LSD
- Techno Toy front + rear lower adjustable control arms
- Techno Toy front tension rods
- Motorsport Auto upgrades roll bar
- Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings
- Ground Control custom springs
- Beta Motorsports coil sleeve kit
- Tokico Illumina adjustable shocks in sectioned struts
- MOMO Protipo steering wheel & hub
- MOMO N55 seats
- Arizona Z Car mustache bar & dog legs
- Arizona Z Car rear brake kit
- Arizona Z Car billet 'bump steer' adjusters
- Custom rear brake bracket
- Wilwood Dynalite handbrake calipers
- Wilwood front big brake kit
- Wilwood compact handbrake cylinder
- Wilwood brake proportioning valve
- Beta Motorsports carbon fiber bonnet - customized vents
- Beta Motorsports fiberglass back hatch
- Tomei camshafts
- Tomei head gasket
- Tomei oil pump + head restrictors
- N1 water pump
- HKS burnt Titanium muffler tips
- AEM V2 plug & play management
- AEM Wideband air/fuel gauge
- Aquamist water injection kit
- GReddy timing belt
- GReddy intake manifold
- GReddy thermostat oil cooler adapter
- GReddy style upgraded intercooler piping
- Magnaflow 3" to twin 2.5" muffler
- Vibrant 3" twin race resonators
- ARP bolts - head / conrods / flywheel / exhaust studs / wheel studs
- Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
- Aeromotive canister fuel filters
- ATL wheel well fuel cell and floater
- Kumho Ecsta intermediate tyres
- Cosworth engine bearings
- Raw Brokerage aluminum pulley kit
- Raw Brokerage complete engine bolt kit
- Tilton compact clutch master cylinder
- NISMO upgraded clutch slave cylinder
- Nitto clear cam cover
- Autopower roll bar
- NRG fender washers
- Tilton clutch cylinder
- CP pistons - 9.0 compression
- Manley conrods
- Manley valves
- Manley valve springs + keepers
- Supertech valve guides + seats
- DEI Reflect-A-GOLD firewall sheeting and tunnel cover
- Aerocatch locking hatch pins
- Mishimoto 2-core aluminum radiator
- Mishimoto radiator electric fan + shroud
- Earls Performance oil cooler kit + lines
- Fluidampr crank harmonic balancer
- Garrett GT2860R twin turbochargers
- OBX exhaust manifolds and downpipes
- Holley Performance PTFE brake + fuel hose and fittings
- Silicone coolant and vacuum hoses
- DeatschWerks 800cc injectors
- Speedhut custom gauges
- Walbro twin 255lph fuel pumps
- McKinney conversion engine mounts
- McKinney custom drive shafts
- Upgraded 300ZXT CV half-shafts
- Motorsport Auto stub axles
- SPEC lightened flywheel
- SPEC Stage 3+ clutch + pressure plate
- Upgraded 300ZXT brake booster + master cylinder
- Rockford Fosgate speakers
- Muteki neochrome lightweight wheel nuts
- Wiring Specialties custom engine harness
- Custom 'Z' rad / intercooler bracket
- Custom engine oil sump
- Custom & flocked dash and console
- Custom extra wide molded flares contoured to front + rear bumpers
- Shaved indicators / antennae / fuel door
- Carbon fiber windshield cowl
- Custom fenders / turn signals
- Custom side skirts
- Custom rear end and bumpers
- Custom rear twin out stainless exhaust
- Motorsport Auto rear spoiler
- Motorsport Auto fiberglass front bumper
- Motorsport Auto modified fiberglass air dam
- Louvered inspection lids
With almost a decade under the belt on the build, the Z is nearing completion - word from Chris is that the vehicle will finally hit the streets in the coming weeks. Though it has never been driven on the road locally, it is by no means a secret to the public. Z fans wait with baited breath until the street arrival of such an iconic Z, and Chris is sure to acquire the correct parts to lay down some serious rubber.
Until then, enjoy these images from our interview.