Words by Strafe with Snaps by Jhem Lopez from 9TRO at 9tro.com

This is the story of Gerald Hidalgo and his Beautiful Philippine Spec 1978 Datsun 280Z built by his shop Autowerkes in Tanauan, Philippines.


After posting our first casting call call, for cars to write DPAN GT articles on, I never imagined our very first submission would be this. Not the fact that it’s a magnificent car and a knockout build but rather the story and the owner behind it. So rather than firing a list of build specs and generic questions I’ll let you read the “interview” that ensued in response to his email and in his words, and THEN the massive build sheet we know you’re drooling for 😉


Gerald Hidalgo
“This is a long shot; my Z is thousands of miles away from you but the Z dream is very much alive here in the Philippines. I started my dream 3 years ago when I first saw my z in my uncle’s garage rotting away. 2 years ago I was lucky to purchase it and literally transformed it from trash to flash. I’m now going around the show circuit to proudly show off how beautiful our Z is. By the way, this Z is destined to be mine.
My love affair with this model started 30 plus years ago in my high school days when I rode this same car that use to belong to my uncle. I vividly remember telling him that “Someday I’ll be able to afford to buy a car like this”. And twist of fate I bought the same car and I only found out when I was fixing the documentation of the Z.”





But WoW….. 30 Years later you bought the same car?? That’s destiny for sure. If it ain’t I don’t know what is!
So I take it that the color is Gran Prix Maroon you went with? Who helped you put it together, family and friends?”


“Mostly from friends I made thru fb! (Laughs fondly), helping me get parts from Japan and the U.S.; DPAN really helped also. There was even a Japanese guy I haven’t met personally, but we just have a common friend because he worked before in the Philippines in the college I went to. He sent me parts and when I was paying his wife, who was still here in the Philippines, she told me he said “Just take the parts first and pay him when he gets back to the country”. I asked him why he is helping me and he said he wants to see the Z restored properly from parts coming from Japan.
Yes it’s Grand Prix Maroon. I have a small shop that did the repair and this was a personal project to show what we can do; a showcase with a personal attachment to it. Here’s video of the car in the biggest show in the Philippines where we won Best Sports Resto Mod Champion.“

Video of the Z click here!


“That is a MINT Resto Mod! Your shop does great work! Never knew the Philippine Scene was that huge after looking at the video, or putting out such quality cars for that matter. Truly amazing what you did in just 2 years. Also good to hear how people are helping each other out Internationally building classic Japanese Cars. From DPAN members at Datsun Parts and Needs to your friend in Japan who are just doing it for the Passion of the cars.”

“You’re right about the passion of the Japanese. Truly surprised with the gesture they did.”
“The human spirit still prevails in the hobby. Friend of mine, who passed away, was an Ex Datsun Dealership Mechanic when these cars were new. He had all the specs to all the years, most he knew by memory. One of the last cars he worked on was my ’77 280Z. Long story short he worked on it for about 2 years, did 3K worth of work and only charged $320. I said “What?” to which he replied “YUP! I’m giving you the deal of the century!!”. I couldn’t thank him enough. Bought him a case of beer and paid it forward later to a 14 year old kid who bought $1,000 worth of parts for $100. Even helped them pull the parts. That’s what it’s about.”

“Wowww!!!! Doing good stuff! Random acts of kindness is really nice. Inspiring story.”

“Just like your Fate Filled International Build.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us; never imagined the first entry would come from the Philippines! Awesome!”

“Thanks bro!! That’s part of the challenge actually to show the Z World that we also appreciate the car here in the Philippines. People that helped the build are Sal Hugo, Taka Sato, Austin White, Clyde Casenas, Migs Villa and Energyte Baldonado Orly.”


Build spec sheet and links to build threads and the shop that made it happen.

Link: Autowerkes Facebook Page

  • 1978 Datsun 280Z (Nissan Fairlady Z S30) Owner: Gerald Hidalgo (Autowerkes)
  • Engine: L28E (originally fuel injected, converted to carburetion) Displacement: 2949cc (2.9L) Bore x Stroke: 89mm x 79mm Pistons: KAMEARI Forged Pistons (89mm) Camshaft: Isky Racing Cams
  • Ignition: MSD
  • Fuel Delivery: 3x 45mm Weber DCOE
  • Intake: Cannon
  • Exhaust: PROFAB
  • Muffler: JUN
  • Cooling: Champion 3 Row Aluminum Radiator w/ Custom Aluminum Shroud (Autowerkes)
  • Drivetrain: Differential: R200 Transmission: L28E 5-speed
  • Brakes: Front: Toyota Hilux (N30/N40) Rear: Nissan 300ZX (Z31)
  • Wheels: Work Glowstar Front: 15×8.5 -34 Rear: 15×10 -28
  • Tires: Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 Front: 195/55-15 Rear: 225/50-15
  • Suspension and Steering: Techno Toy Tuning • Camber Plates • Coilovers • Lower Control Arms • Mustache Bar • Negative Camber Roll Center Adjusters • Outer Tie Rods • Roll Center Adjusters • Strut Bars w/ Tri-Bar Add-On • Sway Bars • Tension Control Rods.
  • Exterior: Front: Marugen Shoukai 5 pc. G-Nose Kit JDM S30 Hood NOS OEM. Datsun 510 (Nissan Bluebird) Fender Mirrors. NOS OEM ZG Headlight Covers. Body: Marugen Shoukai ZG Flares. Rear: Marugen Shoukai 432R Spoiler Custom JDM S30 Bumper.
  • Interior: Custom Leather Upholstery by Autowerkes.


~ Strafe ~