~ Project…. Vengeance ~
Punishment inflicted or Retribution exacted for an injury or wrong.
Long Story Long: things have been going full throttle here at Datsun Parts and Needs (DPAN). The club page has been drama free longer than any other time in history, photo shoots have been booked featuring members rides via DPAN GT with The Gentleman Racer helping shoot, Pin Ups and Datsuns is getting new talent published next month with our friends from Pro Models Atlanta, Project Panama while initially suffering heart break has revealed a plethora of build options including everything from a 510, V520 Wagon, U620 Ute and a very solid Nissan Patrol under the direction of Logan Neet of Neet Perspective Photography who has been writing some excellent articles by the way. The launching of the long awaited DPAN GT website last weekend has been the latest thing amidst so much more. But in the middle of all this the point of this post; a call from our friend Steve Wishman from Datsuncrush who clued me in to a lead that his friend had HLS30-04858 for sale. A Primer Red project 240Z with 280ZX 5 Speed, L24 long block and E31 Head. In need of a lot of work with a set of Tripple Webbers needing the same.
After speaking with the owner who just wanted to see it go to good home and assuring him that it is, a deal was made, money changed hands and it’s coming home in a couple weeks to Indianapolis. While hemorrhaging money fast as it’s coming in many ask why in the world would I even attempt to buy another project car and ship it from California to Indiana while Ruby, HLS30-360104, is still sitting outside in pieces; a sad reminder of what she once was waiting to be restored? One word; Vengeance.
In April 2008 less than one year after buying my very first car, Ruby a ’77 280Z, I found HLS30-001678 in my neighborhood tow yard in Yuba City, CA where I was living at the time. The owner of the yard was an inner circle legend in the city for having a fleet of Z’s and classic cars on his property which was in fact a full mechanics facility spread out over several dozen acres. He was a true car guy, an Old G in his 60’s who still got on the ground to wrench under cars. He had over 20 something S30’s and ZX’s, a Blue Vega GT Cosworth with white rocker stripes and even a couple of old not so run down Honda N600’s on his land. Looking over his collection one day for parts to pull I came across a Brown 240Z with Shadow Louvers, Western Turbine Wheels and white rocker stripes that read “240Z” on the sides sticking nose first in to some bushes. It also had Washington State plates that haven’t been tagged since ’96. After approaching I could see the windows where down but the forward half was buried in weeds. So after manning up and ignoring the snakes which live in the area I walked up to the door and looked inside. To my amazement it had a 4 speed shifter, light brown interior with matching plaid pattern on the factory seats which I thought was unusual and the interior was all there along with a plastic gas can which I’m assuming is the reason why it was towed here. Maybe the owner ran out of gas and left it stranded on the highway. Or they had thought they ran out. After giving the inside a good once over then discovering the door was locked I peeked over the roof to see if the hood was popped and sure enough it was, which meant thankfully I didn’t have to stick my hand inside the car and risk getting bit by a Rattler.
Pulling the latch pin I raised the hood slowyl, praying a Copperhead wouldn’t leap at me, and behold before me was the entire engine; INTACT. Dual SU’s, air cleaner, radiator, brass metal fan which I found odd and never heard of or seen before. The engine bay was green inside which lead me to believe the car was repainted to brown; a fact later confirmed when a fellow DPAN club member showed up as the owner of HLS30-001680 which is factory green with a build date of 2/70. All the wiring was there, hoses and the ever fabled NISSAN 2400OHC Valve Cover. Even though I was relatively new to the Datsun Scene It was then, after seeing the 2400OHC cover, that I knew I had to take a look at the VIN. And low and behold whipping the dirt away from the windshield with my hand to my astonishment I realized I had just found #1678. I looked at the engine and looked at the VIN again to make sure I wasn’t mistaken then gave the entire car a thorough looking at. In my eagerness and fan boy like excitement I forgot to open the door and confirm the door jamb numbers before I left. But sure enough the body was solid. Fair share of minor nicks and dings but it was all there and dang near road worthy. Upon further visits to the car to get pictures I confirmed the door jamb and firewall numbers matched the VIN with build date of 1/70, engine serial number was SN 4416 and also I learned the brass metal fan was an early factory part discontinued very Very early due to balancing and cooling issues. Days later I finally got hold of the yard owner and made a deal to buy the 240Z for $500 even. After going home to get the cash “life” intervened and here’s where the anger began.
Weeks later I finally went back with cash in hand to snag the mythical 240Z and sadly it was gone; sold to an unknown. After kicking myself a few days for not being able to buy #1678 and with Ruby in the shop during all this time, I went by my friends shop to check on Ruby and by twist of fate my 1678 was in his front yard. I asked how’d he get his hands on it and he said he used to work at the tow yard where I found it at. Looking for new Z’s to use as project cars he bought 1678 along with 5 other S30’s. Realizing I just spent the $500 on parts for Ruby I made another deal with my friend to buy 1678 for yet again $500. Week later when I came back with the money the car was already sold to a “guy” in Marysville, CA in the next town a few miles over with no contact number to reach at. Then a month afterwards while searching online for Datsun stuff it turns up on Craigslist sitting in a parts yard 45 miles away in Sacramento, CA being stripped and sold for parts. The pictures in the ad were terrifying. The engine was gone, the radiator missing, front grill and lower valence assembly vanished. The Western Wheels were swapped for steallies along with the shadow louvers being yanked.
With my hand reaching for the phone, with the speed of Doc Holiday’s hand blurring for his gun, I called the ad to save it. The rep on the line said he would sale the car for $3,000 for the whole thing. I told the rep the car doesn’t even run. Even let him know it was serial number 1678 and the voice said, of course, “I know what I have”. Common sense to me or anyone else for that matter would say that if you knew what you had you wouldn’t be allowing nor purposely letting a low VIN Historical Icon be stripped to death; like so many Mustang II’s for 9 inch rears. Being way short of his “price tag”, if you can call it that, I told the man thank you and hung up the phone. Worst yet the place in the ad was asking full NOS retail for every single part on the car; with prices like $250 per dented fender and $150 for steering knuckles. I realized then this ad was a cash grab. In fact community reports later confirmed it was on Ebay with an asking price of $10,000! Also with a long list, again, of NOS prices for stock parts.
Sucking up my pride I let the matter go with little solace in telling myself that maybe it will go to someone who will restore it someday with proper funds and know how, which I was unable to give it at the time on both counts. With the hopes & dreams of owning a ’70 Z Period Modified Street Terror gone away I turned my attention to Ruby; buying parts, reading Dsport mags and drowning my sorrows in Z-point Works Rally videos on YouTube. Then while searching for a header a few months later I came across the legend one last time; Datsun 240Z HLS30-001678 Build Date 1/70 with L24 Engine #4416 was on Craigslist sitting in someone’s driveway sitting on blocks in Sacramento. This time “His” condition was HORRIFING; front clip half gone, hood gone, engine gone, left door gone, interior stripped and drivers rear quarter panel completely chopped off from the roof line down to the rear rocker dogleg panel and back. This is when my solace, like a flash of Vegeta’s self sacrifice, immediately and instantly turned…. in to Anger.
All the would’ve, should’ve and could’ves came flooding back from the moment I first laid eyes on Him in the bush to the time the “expert” said he knew what he had. On that day I vowed should I ever come to find myself in a position to save a Low VIN Z I would never let this happen again. No Early Z would be needlessly or senselessly destroyed if I can help it and I will avenge the destruction of 1678. All the meaningful history; the stories of the Men & Women who bleed, wrenched and sweated over these cars must be presereved. So with HLS30-04858 I’m going to see to it that I build the meanest, most wicked, street fighting Z to represent DPAN and to extract Vengeance for the death of 1678 on all those who would dare disrespect these classics by treating them simply as just meaningless “cars”.
~ Strafe ~
Stay tuned cause it’s gonna get real nasty. If you’re wondering where the before photos and when it was finally destoyed are, they’re locked in a photobucket album set to private with a long forgotten passward linked to an email no longer used. Buried like the Titainc; where they belong.
Thanks to Steve Wishman for making this happen at Datsuncrush. Please visit his page for some amazing Datsun Art. https://www.facebook.com/datsuncrush
For Z Carb Restoration and other parts visit New Mexico Datsun Z Preservation Society and ask for K. Traci Ruin. https://www.facebook.com/nmzpreservation