Not many cars I can say have come up consistently over the years in our hobby. Some get built, look flawless and become famous for the next 2 or 3 years after their completion only to fade off in to the limelight while others get sold or stripped for parts only to become the next “I’ll restore it someday”. Or worse yet they survive to become the next Honda kid’s obsession; groped and grabbed like Donald’s victims. But not this car, it’s one of those exceptions that keeps showing up time and again; getting better with time like wine. Cause a cars survival is dependent on 2 things; it’s owner and their dedication. And this owner’s dedication is a love affair. A love affair with a “Miztrezz”.
Recently this car came up again and I decided reach out for a sit down. What I found out was not only revealing about the car but the man himself who owns it. This is the convo that ensued, short simple and uncut….
Gabe Wigen “Hey Guys My name is Gabe Wigen. I have a 77 280Z. I got the Z from the 2nd owner and know the original owner, how cool is that? I have had her for about 13 years now. When I got her she was stock suspension with a MSA type 2 body kit and a 3.0 liter NA stroker. Now she is rocking a built L28ET with Mega Squirt EFI, suspension, MSA type 3 body kit, flares etc. I have done years of modifications on her and would be honored to share the story. Here is how she looked when I got her.”
(Photo album in link.) http://i801.photobucket.com/albums/yy299/77s30/my%2077%20280Z/WhenIgotit.jpg
“Here is how she looks now.”
DPAN GT “WOW THAT IS IMPRESSIVE! ! ! ! ! ! That is a very cool car you built there! You say you got the car from the 2nd owner and know the original. Describe the time you first seen the Z and what made you want to bring it home when your “time” finally came.”
GW “So the story goes… I had a 280ZX I kinda restored… Got it painted and what not… it was my daily… I met the owner of the S30, Dennis, a couple of times; older gentleman. I always liked the car and told him if he ever wanted to get rid of it to let me know. Well about a year later he said he was moving on to a Z32TT and the S30 was up for sale. He let me drive it around for a day and I just fell in love. I sold my S130 and used the money to get the S30. It had a MSA type 2 body kit and that was the first to go. I then put Tokico springs and Tokico blues struts on. It had a 3.0 liter stroker motor in it at the time and it was my daily driver. Dennis was and is still really good friends with the original owner of the car. We all meet up from time to time. Both are ole timers and really know their stuff!
DGT “How much power are you making now with the stock bore L28?”
GW “I am at 390-400 Wheel.”
DGT “WHAT!!!! DAMN!!! HOW’D I MISS THAT ACTION!”
GW “Here is a vid I made a couple of years ago; shows the transition.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyduWdISda8
DGT “Dude….. close and indeed! I saw that when it happened!!”
GW “LOL! So yeah she has been through a lot of changes through the years.”
DGT “Your line launch game is supreme but your handling game is superb. The car slides around like it’s on ice. That is an excellent driving setup for autocross. How long you been driving? You have complete control of the car.”
GW “It does ok. It really shines on the twisties. Eh, I am kind of old lol… 40. Been into cars since I was about 18; got my first Z at 21. I have had my S30 for 13 years now.”
DGT “Well experience definitely shows lol!”
GW “Thanks man. I have so much more to learn .I have never been on a road course and would like to one day.”
DGT “Carl Beck says most racers hit their prime between 35 and 45. You’re on the right “track” LOL!! What road courses are out your way? Road Atlanta one of them? I hear that course is pretty awesome.”
GW “Nola Motorsports Park and Barbers in Birmingham. Nola is about 2.5 hours from me and Barbers is about 4; so my goals with the car was to handle really well, run in the 11’s in the 1/4 and be comfy enough to drive on road trips; kind of a jack of all trades. However I did remove the AC years ago and kinda wish I still had it lol.”
DGT “AC’s overrated. Windows DOWN! But yeah Southern Sates humidity is pretty fierce. You got a perfect set up though, trackable, dragable and streetable. That’s not an easy thing to do yet alone be successful doing it. How did you beef up the rear end?
GW :Took a good while to get done, however the paint and body needs attention and hope to focus on that now. I am running the Z31 LSD diff with 280ZX turbo axles. I have adapters for the CV’s. The trans is a KA trans using a 280ZX bell housing and custom drive shaft.”
DGT “Paint looks flawless from here *1500 miles away*. Planning on another tear down I take it?”
GW “Yeah, I will need to do some rust repair and then I will go with the same color of paint.”
DGT “The ZX stuff holds up very well. Nissan was on their game in the late 80’s and 90’s. So what kinda of suspensions did you feel you need to run and why?”
GW “I am running Tokico Springs and Tokico Illumina 5 way adjustable struts. I have suspension techniques sway bars and poly bushings around. I have homemade front and rear strut tower bars.”
DGT “Nice choice. Homemade?”
GW “Yeah front strut tower bar consists of 2 1/4 inch pipes bent and welded together and bolted solid to the strut towers. The rear is a 1 inch bar bolted to the strut towers.”
DGT “No wonder it slides like a dream on the tarmac.”
GW “The handling is pretty neutral. Rear end does not step out like a S13. I picked up 350Z non power seats and made mounts. I really dig how they hold you in.”
DGT “Stephen Finnerty came by with his ’71 Z that had 350Z seats in it too, and after riding in it I agree those seats not only look factory to the old Z but feels factory too. Very comfy modern ride feel.”
GW “Yup, I really dig them.”
DGT “How difficult was learning the Mega Squirt system and how much easier was it to use once you learned it? A lot of guys see carbs and dream of those because of, well, EFI’s been known to suck; but many are scared to learn Mega Squirt for the apparent lack of knowledge or learning assumed curve involved. What would be your advice for those willing to step their toes in those waters?”
GW “Oh man; research and more research. I really dig the MS system as a DIY. You need to know a grasp on how volumetric efficiency works. I am still learning the system lol. I have a lot of help from one of my buddies who knows his stuff on turning many systems.”
DGT “That’s pretty much the going thing we’ve been hearing. Ain’t no letting someone else do your homework on that system. Got to learn the rules to play the game. Everyone who learns, as you said, digs the system.”
GW “And the L motor is pretty simple compared to new engines. We do not have variable valve timing, different timing maps per RPM and load etc. Info on the motor is as follows.”
DGT *Audience, in other words, new cars suck*
GW “I am running JE forged pistons, non turbo “A” cam, stock rods and crank, T3/T04E 50 trim turbo, 3″ turbo back exhaust., 460cc injectors, front mount Intercooler, Tial 38MM external waste gate, Champion Radiator.
Brakes are Z31 rotors, Toyota S12-W 4 piston calipers up front; rear is Z31 rotors with 240SX calipers.
Wheels are 17×9 -13 offset up front and 17×9.5 -19 offset out back. Tires front are 245-40R17s and rears are 275 – 40R17 on Rota RBR wheels.”
DGT “That is an impressive set up!”
GW “Took a pretty long time over the years to get it all lol.”
DGT “Patience. Lol! …Patience.”
DGT “Guess the only left to ask is what color did you paint it, what’s your future plans and does your Z have a name?”
GW “The color is like a British racing green. I have not done the paint and body yet but when I do I am going to go back to a very similar color. Future plans are the paint and body. I want to take the dash out and fix the cracks then recover it. Eventually want to install meth injection and do coil over suspension. Also want to install a 4pt cage in the back to help keep the chassis from flexing. Her name is the Mistress (or Miztrezz) because my wife always says she’s the other woman… She does like riding in her however.”
DGT “Thanks for sharing your passion, knowledge and experiences with us and the Z Community. It’s also been an honor getting to know you and the reason you build what you love. Many of us, including myself, have been inspired by what you shared for our own builds. Keep Z’ing and drive well my Brother.”
GW: “Thanks again man. Have a great night.”
~~~ Tha Goods You’ve Been Waiting For; Build Specs ~~~
- 1977 Datsun 280Z
- Owner Gabe Wigen
- Engine: Stock Bore L28ET, JE forged pistons with non turbo “A” cam with 460cc injectors, stock rods and crank, T3/T04E 50 trim turbo with Tial 38mm external waste gate, front mount intercooler and Champion Radiator.
- Engine Management: Mega Squirt EFI
- Trans: KA with 280ZX bell housing and custom drive shaft.
- Diff: Z31 LSD diff with 280ZX turbo axles with adapters for the CV’s.
- Exhaust: 3 inch turbo back exhaust ,
- Brakes: (Front) Toyota S12-W 4 pistons calipers, (Rear) Z31 rotors with 240SX calipers,
- Tires: (Front) 245/40/R17, (Rear) 275/40/R17.
- Wheels: Rota RBR, (Front) 17×9 -13 offset, (Rear) 17×9.5 -19 offset.
- Suspension: Tokico Springs and Tokico Illumina Struts all around with Suspension Techniques sway bars.
- Chassis Mods: Homemade strut tower bars made from 2 1/4 inch pipes bent and welded together and bolted solid to the strut towers (Front), 1 inch bar bolted to the strut towers (Rear).
- Body: MSA Type 3 body kit with flares and Rare Datsun Competition Hood.
Snaps by / courtesy Gabe Wigen
Story by ~ Citizen Z ~